The Not So Fast Digest
Note: This digest is brand new and a work in progress. I will be refining its format and improving its appearance in coming weeks. The ideas here reflect the perspective of my book, Not So Fast: Thinking Twice About Technology, forthcoming this fall from the University of Georgia Press.*
Week of July 25-31, 2016
Headline of the Week
Hillary Clinton Believes in Science
"It’s just amazing that in this, the year 2016, a presidential candidate has to explicitly say that they believe in science."
Other not-very-surprising headlines of the week
Citing cyber 'revolution,' Obama issues attack response plan (Associated Press)
"To put it bluntly, we are in the midst of a revolution of the cyber threat—one that is growing more persistent, more diverse, more frequent and more dangerous every day."
Flirtey drone delivers 7-Eleven slurpies and donuts in first commercial drone delivery to a residence (KurzweilAI)
The two companies plan to expand drone delivery tests in Reno and expect drone packages to include “everyday essentials” such as batteries and sunscreen.
Amazon delivery drones in UK test: the first step to a highway in the sky (Physorg)
If successful, the British experiment will essentially create a high-altitude floating highway between 200 and 400 feet above the ground. Are we ready for this transformation of air space?
Olympic Drug Cops Will Scan for Genetically Modified Athletes (Wired)
Next month at the Rio Olympics, officials will roll out a test for a doping method that athletes might not even be using yet—genetic manipulation of the body’s own cellular machinery, or gene doping.
Welcome to Zuckerworld: Facebook’s Really Big Plans for Virtual Reality (BusinessWeek)
"I mean, it’s like this indefinite continuum of getting closer and closer to being able to capture what a person’s natural experience and thought is, and just being able to immediately capture that and design it however you want and share it with whomever you want.”
The secret to Silicon Valley’s success is mass delusion, says ‘Chaos Monkeys’ author (RecodeDaily)
“The Silicon Valley vibe is like democracy, or religion: If everyone believes in it, it sort of becomes true.”
After-hours email expectations negatively impact employee well-being (Science Daily)
A new study finds a link between organizational after-hours email expectations and emotional exhaustion, which hinders work-family balance.
U.S. Public Wary of Biomedical Technologies to ‘Enhance’ Human Abilities (Pew Research)
Americans are more worried than enthusiastic about using gene editing, brain chip implants and synthetic blood to change human capabilities
EPA Determines that Aircraft Emissions Contribute to Climate Change Endangering Public Health and the Environment (EnvironmentalProtection Agency)
Aircraft are the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. transportation sector, and these emissions are expected to increase in the future.”
Warnings of imminent extinction crisis for largest wild animal species (Science News)
Among the threats cited as drivers of this mass extinction are illegal hunting, deforestation and habitat loss, the expansion of agriculture and livestock into wildlife areas, and the growth of human populations.
As hazard warnings increase, experts urge better decisions on who and when to warn (ScienceDaily)
Effective warnings are a growing need as expanding global populations confront a wide range of hazards.
Think piece of the week
Werner Herzog on the future of film school, critical connectivity, and Pokémon Go
"The question — is this technology good or bad? — is an incompetent question."
*Disclaimer 1: When I say The Not So Fast Digest is "a digest of the week's news," I mean news that has come to my attention during the week in question, or that is relevant to issues that arose during the week in question. Most of what is posted here will, in fact, be news of that week, but some items will have appeared earlier; I always have a lot of catching up to do. Posts of news that has not yet occurred will be rare.
Disclaimer 2: Note that the purpose of this blog (and my book) is to provide a counterpoint to the climate of technological utopianism that prevails in the culture today. This should not be construed as a blanket rejection of the value of all technologies. Rather it should be seen as an effort to encourage an attitude of reasoned skepticism toward the claims of the enthusiasts.