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Joined 3 years, 4 months ago

used to read a lot of books years ago, now my focus is kinda ruined but maybe this will help me a bit

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lichen's books

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Jaron Lanier: Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (2018, Holt & Company, Henry) 3 stars

Jaron Lanier, the world-famous Silicon Valley scientist-pioneer who first alerted us to the dangers of …

Disappointing and poorly defended

1 star

This was such a frustrating read because I agree with so many of the problems he identifies with social media, but I found his reasoning deeply flawed.

To the extent that this is a diatribe about how unpleasant social media is in his personal experience, I was mostly onboard, but the difference, I think, between a rant and a book is rigor.

His citations were mostly news articles and wikipedia entries, and he relies heavily on a superficial understanding of popular, flawed studies like the Stanford Prison Experiment. He makes bold, sweeping, and imprecise statements about the a number of things, particularly the nature of addiction and how addicts behave, without any backup or indication that he is speaking in any way besides entirely off the cuff.

I was disappointed as well in how stuck his reasoning is within the frame of capitalism and tech solutionism.

Kate Crawford: Atlas of AI (2021) 4 stars

The hidden costs of artificial intelligence, from natural resources and labor to privacy, equality, and …

We see how contemporary systems use labels to predict human identity, commonly using binary gender, essentialized racial categories, and problematic assessments of character and credit worthiness. A sign will stand in for a system, a proxy will stand for the real, and a toy model will be asked to substitute for the infinite complexity of human subjectivity. By looking at how classifications are made, we see how technical schemas enforce hierarchies and magnify in-equity. Machine learning presents us with a regime of normative reasoning that, when in the ascendant, takes shape as a powerful governing rationality.

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Kate Crawford: Atlas of AI (2021) 4 stars

The hidden costs of artificial intelligence, from natural resources and labor to privacy, equality, and …

[...] in this book I argue that AI is neither artificial nor intelligent. Rather, artificial intelligence is both embodied and material, made from natural resources, fuel, human labor, infrastructures, logistics, histories, and classifications. AI systems are not autonomous, rational, or able to discern anything without extensive, computationally intensive training with large datasets or predefined rules and rewards. In fact, artificial intelligence as we know it depends entirely on a much wider set of political and social structures. And due to the capital required to build AI at scale and the ways of seeing that it optimizes AI systems are ultimately designed to serve existing dominant interests. In this sense, artificial intelligence is a registry of power.

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Thomas S. Mullaney, Benjamin Peters, Mar Hicks, Kavita Philip: Your Computer Is on Fire (2021, MIT Press) 4 stars

Techno-utopianism is dead: Now is the time to pay attention to the inequality, marginalization, and …

Humankind can no longer afford to be lulled into complacency by narratives of techno-utopianism or technoneutrality, or by self-assured and oversimplified evasion. Every time we hear the call of a lullaby—soothing words such as“human error,” “virtual reality,” “the Cloud,” or others meant to coax us back to sleep, leaving the “adults” to continue driving—our response should be a warning siren, alarming us and those around us into a state of alertness and vigilance. Every established or emerging norm needs to be interrogated—whether the taken-for-granted whiteness of humanoid robots, the ostensibly“accentless” normative speech of virtual assistants, the near invisibility of the human labor that makes so many of the ostensibly “automated” systems possible, the hegemonic position enjoyed by the English language and the Latin alphabet within modern information-processing systems, the widespread deployment of algorithmic policing, the erosion of publicly governed infrastructures at the hands of private (and ultimately ephemeral) mobile platforms, the increasing flirtation with (if not implementation of) autonomous weapons systems capable of selecting and engaging targets independently, and the list goes on. The long-standing dismissal or evasion of humanistic and social scientific critiques of computing and new media is over. It has to be over,because to allow it to continue is simply too dangerous.

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Jason Hickel: Less Is More (2021, Penguin Random House) 5 stars

The world has finally awoken to the reality of climate breakdown and ecological collapse. Now …

"We have long been told that capitalism and democracy are part of the same package. But in reality the two may well be incompatible. Capital’s obsession with perpetual growth at the expense of the living world runs against the values of sustainability that most of us hold. When people are given a say in the matter,they end up choosing to manage the economy according to steady-state principles that run counter to the growth imperative. In other words, capitalism has a tendency to be anti-democratic, and democracy has a tendency to be anti-capitalist."

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Jason Hickel: Less Is More (2021, Penguin Random House) 5 stars

The world has finally awoken to the reality of climate breakdown and ecological collapse. Now …

really good so far, only thing I dislike a bit is the title, because it may sound too naive... (I don't think that the phrasing 'save the world' makes sense, the world can't be 'saved' at this point.. but degrowth is the only viable strategy for the future, at a planetary system scale). the content of the book is not naive at all, it's well-written and builds on decades of works already done in the same direction, most often by people who are not white people in the Western world