Page 2 – News Debris For The Week of August 27th
Tech, AI, Irrelevance and Tyranny

This article deserves special attention. That’s because it brings new, considered insights into how advanced technology is affecting our lives. It’s from The Atlantic, but it’s actually adapted from Yuval Noah Harari’s book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

On the surface, the Atlantic article excerpts passages that describe how artificial intelligence could undermine democracy and turn free citizens into servants to a tyranical society, governed by machine decisions. We’ve seen that before.

But his article is full of insights and explanations that, fot now, have been just beneath the surface, unspoken.

In the second decade of the 21st century, liberalism has begun to lose credibility. Questions about the ability of liberal democracy to provide for the middle class have grown louder; politics have grown more tribal; and in more and more countries, leaders are showing a penchant for demagoguery and autocracy. The causes of this political shift are complex, but they appear to be intertwined with current technological developments. The technology that favored democracy is changing, and as artificial intelligence develops, it might change further.

In other words, the growing fear of irrelevance as machines supplant human dignity and importance is seen to lead to a hunger for a rise in authoritarianism. As a Linus blanket.

This is a long and complex exploration of what seems to be an important book for our times. Be patient. Let your inner AI digest it.

More Debris

• You’ve no doubt heard of Dolby Vision. The Apple TV 4K supports this excellent HDR format. But there’s a mild competitor that seeks to, in my view, muddy the waters. That’s HDR10+. This article explains what it is and why it exists. Just so you know. “HDR10+ is coming to new Samsung and Panasonic TVs, but good luck finding content.

iPad with e-Book

Dreams of digital textbooks replacing paper: dashed.

• There as a time right after the first iPad shipped in 2010 when we fantasized about a future of digital textbooks in abundance. One iPad could replace bulky, heavy paper textbooks and those books would be cheaper as well. It didn’t happen. Bradley Chambers at 9to5Mac tell us why. “Making The Grade: Digital textbooks for iPad never took off, and here’s why.

• Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Apple 3.0 has some searing criticism of what Apple is and is not doing with the MacBook Air. It’s worth a read despite the dramatic title. “I fear for the MacBook Air. I fear for Apple.” Bottom line:

Here’s what I wish for: Someone with the authority of a Steve Jobs to tell the Mac team that the last three years of MacBook design—making laptops that resemble iPhones—were a failure. Those design decisions should be repudiated. What the market is asking for—what Phil and Ben and everybody else seems to want—is an updated MacBook Air with modern specs and a Retina screen priced at $899.

• If you think social media in the hands of teenagers (and misused) is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, then this next article is something to ponder. “Posting Instagram Sponsored Content Is the New Summer Job.” You have a following. You’re an influencer of other youths. You need some cash. What’s not to like?

• I bumped into this next item quite by accident. Here’s the deal. I thought the days of HP neglecting Mac user were over. I guess not. From the Intego Mac Security Blog: HP Leaves Mac Users Vulnerable to Fax Hacks.

• Finally, I offer a glimmer of hope. “California Is Now Inches Away From Restoring Net Neutrality.” California has a country-class economy, the world’s 6th largest, and its actions will be influential in this arena. Root for them.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

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aardman

So many things to say in response to Yuval Harari’s referenced article. I’ll just ramble around about in a somewhat haphazard hit-or-miss rumination… 1. Other than attention-grabbing pronouncements of Ray Kurzweil and his brethren, no one has really proved the inevitability of the Singularity, capital S –the day when machine intelligence supplants human intelligence, rendering the latter redundant, sub-optimal, and dispensable. Most of the writing and commentary I’ve read about AI falls into two categories. One that says AI can never achieve human-like intelligence for a host of reasons of which the one I think is most critical is that… Read more »

Old UNIX Guy

I don’t think the leaks were intentional at all. An intentional leak from Apple is a “yep” or a “nope” from Jim Dalyrmple. The leaked photos of the new iPhones and Apple Watch smack of a tired, overworked Apple employee screwing up.

Old UNIX Guy

Lee Dronick
wab95

John: Where to begin? Yes, I’m talking about Yuval Harari’s piece in The Atlantic. While I disagree with Harari’s analysis of humankind, whether in ‘Sapiens’, ‘Homo Deus’ or ’21 Lessons’, one virtue of his writings is his intellectual honesty in pointing out both speculation on his part, as well as examples from history that contradict his generally dire predictions. For example, in his Atlantic piece, he writes, “Fears of machines pushing people out of the job market are, of course, nothing new, and in the past such fears proved to be unfounded”. However, he goes on to opine, “But artificial… Read more »

Ned

Didn’t Ebenezer/Tim release a policy recently about leaking information suggesting legal action? But it’s okay if he wants to drive the Hype Engine. Reminds me of revised rule Number 7: “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”

palmac

liberalism has begun to lose credibility. Questions about the ability of liberal democracy to provide for the middle class have grown louder;

Before making a statement like this, it would be prudent for the author to look into this little thing we have called “History.” When liberal democracy is strong the middle class thrives.

geoduck

Agreed, however when the middle class isn’t thriving for other reasons, they turn away from liberal democracy. It’s a weird conundrum, people turn away from their best hope and embracing the worst option, but it’s happened before in a lot of countries. Some self destructive twist in human nature somehow.