Elon Musk’s Flamethrowers Have Arrived

By Joe Kukura : sfweekly – excerpt

If case anyone doubts the human race (or at least the leadership) has gone maad, here is the proof you need along with a personal request. Please send us some of fictional (so far) scenarios for what could happen if you mix drones, auto-pilot cars, and flamethrowers with the criminal element on our streets. (In San Francisco we have regular mail and package thefts. Due to the lack of parking, delivery services just throw packages on the sidewalk and people comes along and grab them up. That could be the opening scene.)  Cartoons welcomed and encouraged. We promise to post if you want to share.

The first batch of Musk’s $500 flamethrowers are here, just in time for California wildfire season.

Maybe it provides some comfort to the 3,500 people just laid off at Tesla that their CEO has been engaged in a goofy flamethrower side project for the last four months. The first 1,000 of Elon Musk’s Boring Company handheld fire-shooting contraptions were distributed Saturday at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, CA. A total of 20,000 of these flamethrowers have been sold altogether, according to the product’s website

Musk claims on Twitter that regulations would not allow him to ship a product called a flamethrower, so he labeled it Not A Flamethrower. Others have labeled it a “cool toy for man-children with way too much disposable income.”… (more)

Thanks to all my talented readers and followers for inspiring me to go off on this site. It is a good respite from the political nightmares I am dealing with. To make it easy, if you have anything to share, just post it in the comments.

 

 

 

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Protesters in San Francisco dumped a huge pile of scooters in the street and blocked 11 tech buses — and then things got tense

By Rachel Sandler and Katie Canales : businessinsider – excerpt

 

Activists piled scooters in front of buses and unfurled signs that said “Techsploitation is toxic.”

  • Anti-tech demonstrators in San Francisco blocked tech buses with piles of electric scooters.
  • They told Business Insider they were protesting tech companies’ using city streets to experiment and city officials’ increasing use of sweeps to force homeless people off the streets.
  • In total, a full intersection, 11 buses, and several cars were blocked for about two hours.

Anti-tech demonstrators in San Francisco on Thursday used piles of electric scooters to block shuttles ferrying Google and other tech company employees to work. The blockade was to protest what they see as the failure of the tech industry and lawmakers to address the city’s income inequality and sizable homeless population.

“What you’re seeing here is that scooters have more rights than people,” Chirag Bhakta told Business Insider. “Our priorities shouldn’t be people first, scooters second. We’re tired of being seen as an experimental playground for the tech industry.”…(more)

Gentrification and the corporate takeover of our cities by disruptive products and services is now complete. There is no product or service too dangerous or disruptive. Wait until Tesla’s flamethrowers get into the wrong hands. This seem like a bad idea at the start of fire season, but, the gun lobby likes them. A bill to restrict them was buried in committee.

Pick your conspiracy theory, but, you can’t ignore the takeover of our streets by Uber and Lyft. The day of the Tech v Tech bus protest, that received international coverage, we got news that Lyft is buying GoBikes. They are going head to head with Uber who just bought out another bikeshare Jump.

Tossing the tech scooters under tech buses was a brilliant statement about tech vs. tech. If you haven’t see this video yet you might want to watch this anti-gentrification direct action film, that covers SF and Oakland, among other cities around the globe, and share it with your friends and associates. https://sub.media/video/trouble-13-defend-the-block

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Protesters toss scooters into street to block tech buses in SF

 

Resistance and feminism: what to expect from this year’s Armory Show

By Nadja Sayej : theguardian – excerpt

The much-anticipated contemporary art fair hits New York with a range of provocative pieces, taking aim at Trump and highlighting the work of female artists.

It’s that time of year again, when black-clad art enthusiasts descend upon New York’s Armory Show, the labyrinth-like contemporary art fair at Piers 92 and 94 in midtown Manhattan. Kicking off 8 March, over 200 international art galleries will set up their booths in the white wall jungle to dazzle, sell and sizzle on Instagram. Let’s hope they have free wifi.

On top of your painting and photo fare, there will be tech-inspired artworks in the new Focus section, where 34 artists imagine a post-human world. From 3D-printed sculptures to digital spiritualism, it’s curated by Gabriel Ritter, who is fascinated by our online personas… (more)

The new direction of art in a world of tech and the internet shares the stage with traditional media in a show of international moods and modes. Art as always leads the way into our future. This is a good show to catch if you can.

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.