Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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It’s time for another (quick) Umlaut rave. There’s no getting around it after reading this, then following the back-link to this, and being reminded somehow that this comparatively obscure online magazine has somehow rounded up two of the half-dozen or less people in the world who really get what Bitcoin is going to do to this planet. (I’d say “two-and-a-half” — but with no disrespect to Adam Gurri, his soul just isn’t in it, which is to say: terminally distributed.)

After reading this stuff, it’s easy to think that the only meaningful role for anything else on the right is to run interference while ‘Bitcoin’ (i.e. a-centric digital crypto-commerce) consummates the destiny of capitalism. The intelligence gulf between the emerging Bitcoin machinery and legacy political controversy now yawns so abysmally that inherited conceptions of ‘activism’ have become low comedy. Poke at Bitcoin with a political stick and it slithers sideways while turning more feral — the ‘instinct’ for that is already locked in. The confused idiots who are trying to manage human societies today will almost certainly make it into a monster. Since I don’t like them very much, it doesn’t upset me to see it stealthing into the shadows, with venomous claws emerging. It will be darkly amusing to see it coming at them out of Hell.

April 8, 2014admin 46 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Commerce , Technology
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Revenge of the Nerds

Increasingly, there are only two basic human types populating this planet. There are autistic nerds, who alone are capable of participating effectively in the advanced technological processes that characterize the emerging economy, and there is everybody else. For everybody else, this situation is uncomfortable. The nerds are steadily finding ways to do all the things ordinary and sub-ordinary people do, more efficiently and economically, by programming machines. Only the nerds have any understanding of how this works, and — until generalized machine intelligences arrive to keep them company — only they will. The masses only know three things:
(a) They want the cool stuff the nerds are creating
(b) They don’t have anything much to offer in exchange for it
(c) They aren’t remotely happy about that

Politics across the spectrum is being pulled apart by the socio-economic fission. From Neo-Marxists to Neoreactionaries, there is a reasonably lucid understanding that nerd competence is the only economic resource that matters much anymore, while the swelling grievance of preponderant obsolescing humanity is an irresistible pander-magnet. What to do? Win over the nerds, and run the world (from the machinic back-end)? Or demagogue the masses, and ride its tsunami of resentment to political power? Either defend the nerds against the masses, or help the masses to put the nerds in their place. That’s the dilemma. Empty ‘third-way’ chatter can be expected, as always, but the real agenda will be Boolean, and insultingly easy to decode.

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March 21, 2014admin 72 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations , Neoreaction , Political economy , Technology
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Quote notes (#65)

Derbyshire on Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s The Second Machine Age:

It’s all happening very fast. The field of Artificial Intelligence was dominated for decades by Moravec’s Paradox: Tasks that are very difficult for human beings, such as playing grandmaster-level chess, are fairly easy to get computers to do, while tasks any two-year-old can accomplish, such as distinguishing between a cat and a dog, are ferociously difficult to computerize.

That’s beginning to look quaint. The authors tell us about some robotics researchers working on SLAM — simultaneous location and mapping. That’s the mental work of knowing where you are in an environment and where other things are in relation to you. It’s the kind of thing the human brain does well, with very little conscious thought, but which is hard to get machines to do.

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March 11, 2014admin 22 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology
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Monetary Reality

Kevin D Williamson writes one of the best pieces yet on Bitcoin:

To argue that bitcoins are not “real money” because they have no central-bank regulation or central issuer is like arguing that a prepaid disposable cell phone is not a “real phone” because its number doesn’t appear in the directory and you don’t get a bill. That’s the point, or at least part of the point. 

I am skeptical of the Bitcoin model, but it has in no small part been a victim of its own popularity, with speculative investments in bitcoins overwhelming their use in commercial transactions. But this phenomenon is not unknown among traditional currencies. Consider the lengths to which the Swiss have had to go in recent years to stabilize the value of the franc as euros (and, to a lesser extent, dollars) bounced about. 

But that misses the broader point in a couple of ways. The first is that bitcoins and other private currencies are intended as replacements for greenbacks in approximately the same way that the Internet was intended to be a replacement for the printing press: They may do that, sure, but they will have other uses as well. Wresting control of currencies away from politicians is the only way to let money evolve. Twenty years ago, you didn’t know that you’d want to take photos with your telephone or use it as a boarding pass at the airport. Now you do. Nobody planned that. Nobody knows what “real money” is going to mean in twenty years. 

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March 4, 2014admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Commerce , Technology
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Hard Reboot

As intelligent media begin to interlock with NRx in a serious way, the fundamental problem it poses emerges ever more starkly into view. Compare the analysis of Moldbug in this technology article by Clark Bianco, focused resolutely upon Urbit (and its substrata), with Adam Gurri’s political-economic critique of Moldbuggian ‘technocracy’ and saltation. Strikingly, the technological and political questions are indistinguishable. In both cases, the central issue is the practicality of ‘hard reboot’, or starting over.

Repeating and responding to a point in his own comment thread, Bianco remarks:

“If you start looking for a way to replace our current centralized, hierarchical, public-identities network naming system (DNS) with a Bitcoin-like decentralized, anonymous-but-reliable identity service, you might well end up on the road leading to Urbit.”

We are entirely of one mind on the general thrust here.

The neo-reactionary stuff on Urbit that seems to be decoration is not. It is the whole point.

I’m not going to try processing this topic right now — it’s too vast. Over the next few months, however, it will be a guiding thread. Most prominently: Can a high-level theoretical engagement with Moldbug as political thinker and provocateur not also be an entanglement with Urbit and technological enterprise? My suspicion is that any such attempted cleavage would fail, or at least fall short of an adequate level of abstraction. In particular, any invocation of neoreactionary political ‘practice’ that ignores the back-to-back project to reboot the freaking Internet is in danger of utter misdirection. (More on all this to come.)

(Thanks to @mr_archenemy for the pointer to the Popehat piece.)

February 20, 2014admin 30 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction , Technology
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Macromedia (too)

Perhaps even more than print, the movie industry has epitomized the macromedia (few-to-many, or broadcast) model of cultural distribution. In two penetrating articles, Hugh Hancock examines the impact of electronic games software and impending virtual reality technology on film production. Extreme change seems inevitable.

As with any social process touched by computers, the basic tendency is to decentralization. By down-streaming productive potential into ever-cheaper digital systems, the ability to execute complex media projects is spread beyond established institutions, encouraging the emergence of new agents (who in turn stimulate — and thus accelerate — the supportive techno-economic trends). Since the Cathedral is primarily a political-media apparatus, which is to say a post-theistic state church reproduced through the effective delivery of a message, these developments are of critical importance to its functional stability. It seems the unfolding crisis is destined to be entertaining.

February 12, 2014admin 8 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology
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Timing

I’m repeating an initial twitter interaction here because it seems quite critical to some of the plate tectonic rumblings working through NRx. My prompt was:

To which Michael Anissimov immediately replied:

(Of course there was more — interesting stuff.)

For some suggestive remarks about social prospects and differential speeds, see Andrea Castillo’s latest (and excellent) article on the tech-economy at Umlaut.

February 11, 2014admin 13 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction , Technology
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Speckle

Here’s a start-up idea that I’m putting out there to be stolen (even though it will make somebody US$ 100 billion).

Speckle is a social media platform, for seriously short messages. Addresses, tags, and other encrustations are tucked away into the margins of each message, along with URLs, which can be anchored in the text by a single character. That leaves exactly 14 characters for each ‘speck’ demanding extreme linguistic compression, making innovation of efficient neologisms, jargons, and acronymics near-mandatory. (It’s a T-shirt slogan or simple gravestone inscription length format.) Total information content for each speck comes to roughly 10 bytes, or a few more if exotic signs are imaginatively employed. Absolutely no pictures or other high-bandwidth media are tolerated.

Within five years, when the micromedia landscape has been speckled, a tweet will look about as concise as the Summa Theologica once did.

February 7, 2014admin 18 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology
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More on Micromedia

As with the previous post on micromedia and de-localization, this one is not aiming to be anything but obvious. If the trends indicated here do not seem uncontroversial, it has gone wrong. The sole topic is an unmistakable occurrence.

The term ‘micromedia’ is comparatively self-explanatory. It refers to Internet-based peer-to-peer communication systems, accessed increasingly through mobile devices. The relevant contrast is with broadcast (or ‘macro-‘) media, where a relatively small number of concentrated hubs distribute standardized content to massive numbers of information consumers. The representative micromedia system and platform is the Twitter + smartphone combination, which serves as the icon for a much broader, and already substantially implemented, techno-cultural transformation.

Besides de-localization, micromedia do several prominent things. They tend to diffuse media content production, as part of a critically significant technological and economic wave that envelops many kinds of disintermediation, with the development of e-publishing as one remarkable instance. By ushering in a new pamphlet age, these innovations support an explosion of ideological diversity (among many other things). No mainstream media denunciation of Neoreaction is complete without noting explicitly that “the Internet” is breeding monsters, as it frays into micromedia opportunities. (In all of this, Bitcoin will be huge.)

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February 6, 2014admin 10 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology
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De-Localized

For decades now, everyone who has thought about the matter at all has known that we were going to arrive here — which is to say nowhere in particular — and we almost have. It struck me forcibly in Cambodia, where connectivity was difficult enough to impinge on consciousness, that being linked near-continuously to nowhere (in particular) had become a fundamental expectation of my psychological existence. Twitter, ‘where’ I am still a novice, had drastically reinforced the blogger mentality that ejects the mind from place. Thoughts now latch onto online articulation as their natural zone of consolidation, entangled in social networks exempted from geography. A neural-implant twitter chip, uplinked through satellite to the Internet, seemed to be an inevitable consummation of current micro-media trends.

On the Shanghai metro, a large majority of travelers are submerged in their mobile phones, beyond speech, their attention sublimed out of space. The social networks to which consciousness has evolved, as an adaptation, are no longer found anywhere. As James Bennett predicted, in his formulation of the Anglosphere, cultural proximity has taken on a density that eclipses spatial closeness. It is already normal to live (psychologically), to a very large extent, outside space. Under many circumstances, the passenger standing next to you on the train is far more distant than the ‘voices’ on your twitter feed, even when every conventional standard of common social identity is satisfied. Minds that were biologically engineered over tens or even hundreds of millions of years to engage with their physically-proximate fellows are ever more elsewhere (or nowhere in particular) — in the techno-traffic ‘cloud’. Something seriously vast has happened.

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February 5, 2014admin 44 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology
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