I’ve seen Epstein described elsewhere as a “stool pigeon,” tasked with ratting out other billionaire pedophiles as part of a deal he struck (or hopes to strike) with the government. It seems to me there are several stool pigeons here among his science cronies too, especially those who set out some decoy version of “intelligence” — dare I say “artificial intelligence” — hoping we don’t sense the danger or notice that their eyes and minds and hearts are sewn shut.
Engineering is a social production not merely a scientific or technological one. And educational engineering is not just a profession; it is an explicitly commercial endeavor. For engineers, as historian David Noble has pointed out, are not only “the foremost agents of modern technology,” but also “the agents of corporate capital.”
“Learning engineers,” largely untethered from history and purposefully severed from the kind of commitment to democratic practices urged by Dewey, are now poised to be the agents of surveillance capital.
Technologists suck at predicting the future. They suck because they don’t understand the past; they’re blind to much of the present. They’re terrible at predicting the future because they fail to grasp the systems and practices surrounding their products, firm in their faith instead that their own genius (and their investors’ continued support) will be enough to muddle forward.
Ed-tech relies on amnesia.
Ed-tech is a confidence game. That’s why it’s so full of marketers and grifters and thugs.
“Those who ignore the past are destined to be in Wired Magazine” — George Santayana probably
Remember: the lack of communication does not just mean a failure to speak; it is also a failure to listen, to not give our attention to (and to distract others’ attention from) the things that we really must.
I am so fed up with Twitter. I have been for years now, no doubt. But it’s hard, as a self-employed writer, to ditch the site altogether. I use it to promote my work. (I’ll post a link to this newsletter there as soon as I hit “publish.”) And I find news and other writers’ stories there too – things that I wouldn’t necessarily stumble upon, thanks in no small part to the demise of RSS. Nevertheless, due to changes this week to Twitter’s API – changes that mean my desktop Twitter client of choice, Tweetbot, no longer really works – it is unlikely I’ll be on the site much for the foreseeable future.
The coverage of Elon Musk’s companies is almost always coverage of Elon Musk. That’s how he wants it, of course. Journalists, as mythmakers, seem happy to oblige.
The problems of technology – and the problems of the storytelling about the computing industry today, which seems to regularly turn to the worst science fiction for inspiration – is bound up in all this. There’s a strong desire to create, crown, and laud the Hero – a tendency that’s going to end pretty badly if we don’t start thinking about care and community (and carrier bags) and dial back this wretched fascination with weapons, destruction, and disruption.