Tuesday, June 28, 2022
They want to wake us in the morning, have their artificial intelligence software guide us through the day, and never quite leave our sides. They aspire to become the repository for precious and private items, our calendar and contacts, our photos and documents. They intend for us to unthinkingly turn to them for information and entertainment, while they build unabridged catalogs of our intentions and aversions. Google Glass and the Apple Watch prefigure the day when these companies implant their artificial intelligence within our bodies.
- From World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer
[Photo by ev at Unsplash]
A spectre is haunting eastern Europe: the spectre of what in the West is called 'dissent'. This spectre has not appeared out of thin air. It is a natural and inevitable consequence of the present historical phase of the system it is haunting. It was born at a time when this system, for a thousand reasons, can no longer base itself on the unadulterated, brutal, and arbitrary application of power, eliminating all expressions of nonconformity. What is more, the system has become so ossified politically that there is practically no way for such nonconformity to be implemented within its official structures.
- From The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel
Visiting the offices of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute a few years ago, I spotted a photograph on the wall showing a remarkable scene in progress. The black-and-white picture, dated November 14, 1962, is a wide-angle view - a very wide view, because of what the camera has to frame. What you see is the interior of a full-scale basketball arena, the lens managing to cover nearly the whole space. We are a ways up in the stands, well above the court, where the basketball hoops have been set aside and rows of chairs are lined up to face a platform and a podium. All of the seats on the floor and well up into the bleachers are occupied - more than ten thousand people, I would guess. At the podium stands a white-haired man alone. The image is sharp enough that you can identify the closer faces in the corwd, all of them staring at the old man down below. The members of the audience appear young, bright, alert, and joyous: girls in sweaters and skirts, guys in sports coats and button-down shirts. We are at the University of Detroit sixty years ago watching Robert Frost read his poems.
- From The Dumbest Generation Grows Up: From Stupified Youth to Dangerous Adults by Mark Bauerlein
Monday, June 27, 2022
Polluted social media. Addictive smartphones. Vicious Twitter. Cancel culture. Alienation. Loneliness. Lockdowns. Declining institutions. Passivity. 24-hour news cycle. Big Tech. Mediocre leadership. Fading moral courage. Squishy ethics. "When in Rome" rationalizations. Gross politicization of even the most nonpolitical. Cults. Broken families. Rushes to judgment. Quotas. Porous borders. Viruses. Emboldened enemies.
The list continues.
We swim in dangerous waters.
Horatio did so, his voice growing clearer and more confident; and Stephen's attention wandered. Remotely he heard the boy tell the nature of a secant, a cosecant, a tangent and cotangent, a sine and its fellow; and when next he took notice they were talking with real animation about such astronomy as Horatio and his grandfather's curate, Mr. Walker, had managed to accomplish with a home-made refracting instrument just powerful enough for the moons of Jupiter, the delightful moons of Jupiter, on a clear and moonless night. Stephen let his eyelids droop.
- A midshipman interview in Blue at the Mizzen by Patrick O'Brian