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Fifty/Fifty

A bit of 50/50 today. And I think I’ll lead with the darkness so we can end in the light.

20 Minutes into the Future is a newsletter billed as “A critical look at how technology is shaping our lives today and what actions we can take for a better tomorrow.” If you’re ok with blithely ignoring the disturbing effects spreading out in the wake of of big technology’s inexorable path then this is probably not your cup of tea. The short burst is that they are impacting real people in the real world in ways that leap right from the pages of every dystopian science fiction novel written in the last hundred years. This week’s dispatch contained a couple noteable quotes:

The first is Grey’s Law which states that “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”

The second is from Aldous Huxley (of course):

“In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or the propaganda might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies — the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”

Hard to believe that guy never experienced a twitter feed.

In any case, moving on to the light.

I added Sean Carrol’s excellent Mindscape Podcast to my list. Its a long, informative, deep-dive-format and so far it’s been worth the time. The most recent episode features Ramez Naam and presents an intelligent, and optimistic vision of the renewable energy future. I suspect the profit motives for doom-saying outweigh those for positivity, so it’s always suprising when someone puts an optimistic spin on anything these days. The podcast is great, and this episode in particular is useful in that it details a lot of positive things that get overlooked by the anxiety-driven attention machine. There is encouraging data here, and reasons to be optimistic about the future, and I am increasingly drawn to this approach. I believe that intention influencees action, and that intention springs from belief in a certain outcome. If you spend all day swimming in an ocean of apocalyptic prophesy you’re certainly not going to bother with a positive outlook, and lacking that you’ll be incapable of movement towards a positive future. And that stasis coincidentally benefits the business that’s feeding you the dark warnings 24/7/365. Maybe I’m just a sucker for contrarians in general, but I am actively seeking out voices that seek solutions to the problems we all face and spending less time with those that just wring their hands and wail while collecting money like paid mourners at a funeral.

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