ISSUE 2.17

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Knowing Technology

Hiding from the news, robot demon wolves, startups designed to kill you, trees with email addresses, and more.

Hi! Have this incredibly lovely acoustic track which will soothe your heart even as my newsletter makes it more annoyed: Richard Houghten - Millions of Birds. It even has some surprise synths and electronic elements toward the end.

OK, on to the articles!


The Man Who Knew Too Little

This well-dressed man unplugged from all of society the moment Trump was elected and has spent the rest of his life living completely apart from news entirely, coasting on the results of past investments and listening to white noise when he orders coffee in the nearest town 30 minutes away (seriously). Part of me admires the completely self-imposed ludditism of it all, fantasizing about living in a world where nothing happens, barring the day that I eventually die from the radiation poison that has sunk into my creekwater unbeknownst to me due to my news blockade. The other, much larger part of me hates this guy for being such a wimp. There's some attempted redemption in the article along the lines of community projects that give back, but, you know, whatever.


A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is “100 percent fatal”

Hey, while we're talking about ways to avoid the internet, why don't we just upload our minds to it? Only trick is that it literally has to kill you first. This is because they take your literal brain and deep freeze it for optimum storage, which has to happen ideally while you're alive (until you're not). Of course, Silicon Valley is ready with the spin--that little part of the equation is why "we are uniquely situated among the Y Combinator companies." Regardless of the bizarreness of it all, they're doing some interesting stuff with the science, such as "preserving a pig's brain so well that every synapse inside it could be seen with an electron microscope." I hope that pig gets some sweet digital afterlife perks.


This Robot Wolf Is a Demon From Hell

Ignoring the ridiculously overworked title and terminology like "shitbeast", this is a robot that's designed to replace the wolves that were originally asked by the Japanese in the 1870s to ward off wild animals from their fields. Truly, technology can fix nature's problems! Snark aside, just hearing the phrase "reintroduce wolves" makes me feel cooler.


YouTube, the Great Radicalizer

You ever go onto YouTube, watch one dumb video with a little more cleavage (or conspiracy theory) than you'd like to admit to, and next thing you know your YouTube homepage is haunted by it for weeks? Yeah, that's what this article is about, roughly--the weirdly, increasingly bubbled, volatile, enticing, extremist channels into YouTube that watching it will send you down. Not just the weird, though--the particularly untrue, such as searching for flu vaccination info leading to anti-vax conspiracy theories.


People Are Reportedly Attacking Driverless Cars in California

In 2018, self-driving cars were in 6 accidents in Cali--two of which had pissed off humans shouting at and slapping the cars. Both of the cars actually had human assistant drivers, too! All this because, I don't know, some people are stupid and angry about things?


When You Give a Tree an Email Address

OK, this one is like 3 years old (sorry) but a goodie. Melbourne gave trees email addresses so people could report tree problems (um... too sappy? loose leaves? bad attitudes?), and instead people sent love letters to their favorite trees. I love it. I wonder if the city read the emails aloud to the trees? (Now I want to go to a forest and do slam poetry for nature.)