The New Yuppies

By J.C. Pan : newrepublic – excerpt

How the aspirational class expresses its status in an age of inequality.

The term “yuppie” now feels so dated that it occasionally seems an entire social class has vanished. If the suit-wearing Patrick Batemans of the 1980s no longer embody affluence, what has come to replace them? “Hipster” reigned, briefly, as the label of choice for certain irritating would-be members of the bourgeoisie. But while hipsters were, like the yuppies before them, young and urban-dwelling, they weren’t exactly professional. Often rumored to be living off their trust funds, they spent their time as layabout musicians or bike messengers, milling in coffee shops and craft cocktail bars. Yuppies, on the other hand, were seasoned careerists who owned yachts and luxury SUVs and talked in public about their stock portfolios. Yuppiedom described a specific oily demeanor and pattern of consumption as much as it implied affluence…(more).

When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism

 

By Franklin Foer : theatlantic –  excerpt

The pursuit of digital readership broke the New Republic—and an entire industry.

Chris Hughes was a mythical savior—boyishly innocent, fantastically rich, intellectually curious, unexpectedly humble, and proudly idealistic.

My entire career at the New Republic had been spent dreaming of such a benefactor. For years, my colleagues and I had sputtered our way through the internet era, drifting from one ownership group to the next, each eager to save the magazine and its historic mission as the intellectual organ for hard-nosed liberalism. But these investors either lacked the resources to invest in our future or didn’t have quite enough faith to fully commit. The unending search for patronage exhausted me, and in 2010, I resigned as editor…

Over the past generation, journalism has been slowly swallowed. The ascendant media companies of our era don’t think of themselves as heirs to a great ink-stained tradition. Some like to compare themselves to technology firms. This redefinition isn’t just a bit of fashionable branding. As Silicon Valley has infiltrated the profession, journalism has come to unhealthily depend on the big tech companies, which now supply journalism with an enormous percentage of its audience—and, therefore, a big chunk of its revenue… (more)

A completely different view of the world, based on future expectations of where technology will take us, is unveiled as a major funding partner of Facebook pours his wealth into The New Republic. Having been interviewed by The Atlantic, I can speak from experience on how that movement feels. Both extremes, living in the past and living in the future are not getting most of us anywhere other than longing for a clear presence in the presence that is lacking in both.

 

 

 

Why Artificial Intelligence Should Terrify You

By Nicole Clark : bolditalic – excerpt

Our resident Silicon Valley CEOs are feuding over A.I. They’re both wrong.

Two days ago, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, an outspoken proponent of artificial intelligence regulation, dished out a sick burn via Twitter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Musk called Zuckerberg’s knowledge of AI “limited.” Sounds benign to you or me, but in the rarefied world of the tech world, them’s fightin’ words.

Every tech-news outlet has jumped on this story; it’s another course du jour in the saga of two tech leaders embroiled in a fight over whose opinion of AI — opinions that cannot be substantiated anywhere in the near future — is more correct…

This sort of coverage builds comedy and mystique as a buffer around a technology that should honestly be regarded as scarier. I’m not talking about I, Robot, in which machines take violently to the streets and populate the earth like human proxies — according to Mark O’Connell’s To Be a Machine, machines possess really shitty motor skills. No one actually knows how the brain works, so it’s doubtful we’ll be able to build something that truly emulates it. I’m referring to the explicit knowledge that AI and automation in general will steal jobs and, even more seriously, stagnate social mobility in the near future — to name just two downsides…

Equally troubling is the potential for AI to poorly manage things like “driving cars, curing diseases…[and] understanding media,” as Zuckerberg stated in 2016 after completing Jarvis, an AI that runs his home. We already know that AI can pick up bias. Because these data sets come from human subjects, the biases implicit in these subjects get baked into the software. In this particular study, the machine-learning program associated “wedding” with females versus “professional” and “salary” with males — among other infractions….(more)

Scary AI Stories: There were reports this week of a couple of computers that started chatting with each other in a language that their “human handlers” could not understand when tasked with negotiating with each other. The program was allegedly discontinued, but, knowing that two computers are capable of making up a language of their own, is rather disconcerting and why I chose to run this story.

 

 

Summer of Love lost on those living in Summer of Discontent

By Caille Millner : sfchronicle – excerpt

In our Summer of Discontent, what can we learn from the Summer of Love?

Since the Summer took place before I was born, I have no nostalgia, passions or bad memories about anything that happened in San Francisco in 1967.

I can tell that for some people it was a seminal event, judging by the extent of attention I’ve seen around the 50th anniversary. There have been at least 10 Bay Area museum exhibits celebrating some aspect of the Summer of Love this year. There have been endless free concerts, tours and tie-dyed public posters. There’s been even-more-extensive-than-usual glorification of the Grateful Dead.

I appreciate how all of this is an opportunity for a segment of Bay Area Baby Boomers to indulge in youthful memories of the good times. (Have fun, kids!)

But for those of us far too young to have been there, the Summer of Love has never felt as far away as it does in 2017.

On my way to the de Young Museum’s “Summer of Love Experience” exhibit, in Golden Gate Park, I traveled through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. My misgivings began there.

San Francisco’s advanced state of economic inequality and neighborhood gentrification have led to strange street-level juxtapositions all over town. But the Haight is still a special place; these juxtapositions maintain a hard edge…

Continue reading “Summer of Love lost on those living in Summer of Discontent”

Should Uber be shut down?

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

2015 press conference on the steps of SF City Hall before the corporate culture before the Uber’s corporate profile was revealed –  photo by zrants

Harvard business professor says the real problem in the tech industry is a “contagious” culture of lawbreaking that society shouldn’t tolerate

Everyone’s talking about Uber’s latest problems with management style, sexual harassment, company culture … and CEO Travis Kalanick, who embodied all of that, has been forced out.

Big investors hope Kalanick’s resignation and a deep internal investigation will help position the company for an IPO. They want Uber to go public pretty soon, and all of these scandals are tamping down the stock price.

But there’s another interesting perspective on Uber (and Lyft, and some of the other tech disrupters) that has appeared not in The Nation, or Mother Jones, or 48hills but in the Harvard Business Review, the voice of the eminently establishment Harvard Business School.

Harvard Associate Professor Benjamin Edelman presents what sounds like a radical hypothesis, but it actually makes perfect sense. He says that Uber can’t be fixed, that the corporate culture was poisoned from the start – and that the only solution is for regulators to shut it down.

The company’s cultural dysfunction, it seems to me, stems from the very nature of the company’s competitive advantage: Uber’s business model is predicated on lawbreaking. And having grown through intentional illegality, Uber can’t easily pivot toward following the rules (more)

What a coincidence that a Harvard scholar picks the “Summer of Government Overreach”, to acknowledge “Corporate Overreach” and lawless disruptive behaviors. When corporate “shared-property” schemes proved popular with the public, politicians helped pave the way. Now, they are trying to clean up the mess they created by disrupting communities and displacing millions of law-abiding citizens to make way for visions of a perfect future in 2040. Et is must be easier to fix the future than the present.

How a Canadian City Ended Homelessness With a Simple Idea

goodnet – excerpt

Everyone deserves a home

When Medicine Hat, a city in southern Alberta, Canada, pledged to put an end to homeless in 2009, there were many sceptics who thought it couldn’t be done. A good six years later, the city says it has fulfilled its promise with the help of a surprisingly simple idea: giving every person living on the streets a home with no strings attached.

While traditional housing programs ask that prospective participants get clean and seek psychological treatment before being admitted into the system, the Housing First approach doesn’t make any of these demands. Whoever is in need of a permanent place to stay will get help, no matter what their circumstances are. “We take the stance that people are worthy of a home and it is a fundamental human right to have shelter and a roof over one’s head,” Jamie Rogers, who ran the Housing First program in Medicine Hat told the BBC. “Of course it is recovery-oriented, and we help and support people in making different choices in their life, but we don’t withhold housing because of who they choose to be.”… (more)

What can we learn about humanity from our Canadian neighbors? How can we use existing resources to solve social problems? This story gives us some hope.

Oakland’s new Museum of Capitalism opens Saturday

by

Animated Logo from Museum of Capitalism

Subversive pop-up display imagines a post-supply and demand world

Anyone trying to buy or rent a home in the Bay Area these last five years has been getting a near daily lesson in the realities of a capitalist economy.

But for some perspective that doesn’t hit quite so close to home, consider a trip to Oakland’s latest museum.

The incoming Museum of Capitalism (whose Instagram account describes it as “coming soon—too soon”), a pop-up enterprise in Jack London Square set to open its doors on Saturday, says that its mission is to “remember capitalism through art, artifacts, and exhibitions.”…

Yes, in a bit of subversive cheek, the new institution imagines itself the product of an alternate reality in which capitalist economies died out. 

“Much of the evidence of capitalism is either eroding over time or simply not known or easily accessible to the public,” the curators write on the museum site, adding “Our educational work is crucial for establishing justice for the victims of capitalism and preventing its resurgence.”…

Admission is free of charge, but donations are encouraged—presumably a “from each according to his ability” principle in action… (more)

The real irony here is the replacement of galleries and art exhibitions by sports arenas, driven home by the huge crowd expected in Oakland to celebrate the Warriors big win on Thursday, that anticipates over a million people on the parade route. Sadly our Capitalist society is taking us backwards to worshiping sports stars, like the Romans in the Colosseum.