The robots aren’t the problem, the bosses are

In every single one of these cases what has occurred is that those in control of a company have made an active choice to pick the machine over the human – and such machines were largely created to provide these owners with just this choice. The robots did not voice any opinion in the matter. To put it more plainly: the burger flipping robot does not want to replace any human workers (nor for that matter does it want to not replace human workers) because the burger flipping robot does not want anything. The robots aren’t the problem, the bosses are – Librarian Shipwreck

Going For A Song: ‘Blackbird’

The Beatles – Blackbird

I heard the last side of Abbey Road yesterday after a long time thanks to Guy Garvey playing it on his show. Listening to Paul McCartney sing ‘Golden Slumbers’ I decided to this week tip my hat to the man.

Due to (or in spite of) the amount that has been written about him and The Beatles it’s easy to forget to sometimes acknowledge how many great songs he’s written and what he’s achieved. We tend to leave these things generally until after the person we’re praising is not around to hear it. Not this time.

So Paul, if you’re reading, ‘Blackbird’ is one of my favourite songs of yours. And you were always my Nan’s favourite Beatle.

 

Reading: I Hate The Internet, Jarett Kobek

Going For A Song: ‘Carrion’

British Sea Power – Carrion

Reading of a new album released earlier this year by British Sea Power (it made the Quietus’s Best Albums of 2017 Thus Far) I was reminded how very excited about the band I was when they released their debut album, The Decline of British Sea Power, in 2003. At the time I thought it warranted inclusion on the list of great debut albums. It was one of the best I had heard. But the Quietus review also reminded me how somehow they fell off my radar just around the time of their third album, Do You Like Rock Music?.

So this week I’ve been re-listening to The Decline of British Sea Power. And I’m pleased to say it’s everything I remember. Would I still claim it as one of the great debut albums? Yes. That more people don’t think the same I can only attribute to the album inhabiting a space of its own when it was released; it never defined a moment like The Stone Roses, to pick one example, did. It deserves to be thought of as such though.

Their new album is their eighth I read. I’m going to catch up.

6 reasons to be (technologically) cheerful

No.1

In my experience – and occasionally to my slight disappointment – free e-books available online are of a poor quality. Standard Ebooks, a volunteer not-for-profit effort, are doing something about this.

No.2

Solid is a project, led by Tim Berners-Lee, which aims “to radically change the way Web applications work today, resulting in true data ownership as well as improved privacy.”

One of the issues it looks to negate is ‘vendor lock-in’; or what Jaron Lanier in his book Who Owns The Future calls less diplomatically ‘punishing lock-in’; this is where a user puts data valuable to them into a server but then cannot leave that server as access to their data will be lost.

No.3

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t track you; Ecosia is a search engine which uses the ad revenue it produces from search ads to plant tress. Both seem a good idea because if you can’t (as yet – see no.2) own the data you create you might as well assert some control over the data you put out there, or put the data you do generate to some use.

No.4

OpenStreetCab is an app which lets you compare prices between black cabs, Lyft and Uber (London and New York only currently). While not able to address some fundamental issues with the sector, this app seems at the very least to (re)introduce some competition between the platforms.

No.5

The continuation of RSS readers. I use NewsBlur, but have used Feedly.

No.6

That you are able to own your digital presence:

It’s not yet been a year on from deciding to migrate (most of) my digital presence to WordPress, so I hope I’m not speaking prematurely, but overall I think my decision has been a good one. There have been drawbacks. And when I think of a particular drawback such as the loss of ease at which I can stay in touch with friends, I try to bear the following in mind from the writer Warren Ellis:

My social media are either deleted or shut off in some way, but it’s not hermitage, because friends and comrades know how to reach me. I’ve just turned the volume control down on the world, and I focus on other things, in other ways. It brings me peace, and peace brings me clarity, and clarity brings me energy. Good to go.

 

Reading: Delayed Gratification, Issue 27