#4 – The Humans are Dead Pt 2 – Culture


#4 – The Humans are Dead Pt 2 – Culture

Automation has changed our culture. In this weeks episode we talk about music distribution and discovery, the removal of time from the consumption of content, how albums have evolved for our listening habits, algorithms that write music, the death of the record label, movie distribution, the removal of staggered release dates, the efficiency of Netflix and Amazon, The Netflix algorithm that decides what movies to make, The tv show Lost, the death of the cinema industry as we know it, Video game distribution and promotion, the indie game renaissance, e-sports, air travel, Micheal O’Leary’s contribution to a united Europe, security theatre, the economics of car ownership, the high-street shopping experienced and a society of access.

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Links and Resources

  • How Will Automation Affect Society (article)- Jill Wong
    • “One interesting question the study has raised so far is whether some professions might face “broken career ladders”, where entry-level workers no longer have a clear path for career progression because the tasks they would traditionally perform in order to progress have been automated.”
    • “..governments need to work with stakeholders to rethink the kind of pre-employment and post-employment training institutions should offer to enable professionals to keep pace with these developments.”
    • “How a government approaches the ethical and legal implications of technologies like autonomous vehicles (AVs) would also influence how widespread the adoption of technology and automation will be and the pace of its adoption.”
  • The Future of Employment (pdf) – Frey and Osbourne
  • Strategic Foresight: Perspectives on Global Shifts (collection)
  • Where Will AI Come From (article) – Sebastian Nowozin
  • Delivery Drones Will Mean the End of Ownership – Astro Teller (Google X)
    • Moving from a society of ownership to one of access
  • Machines That Think
  • That Dragon Cancer
    • A game based on the idea of raising a child with Cancer
  • Low Cast Air Carriers
  • Airtravel in the 1980’s
    • No automated check-in It’s amazing how now we push seven buttons, and we’re checked into our flight; we even get a boarding pass and baggage tag. In the ’80s, it took the airline desk agent 14,000 VERY loud key strokes on an IBM the size of an anvil just to find your reservation.
    • More than any other piece of technology or automated innovation the improvements brought from computers have allowed more and more low-cost airlines to succeed and compete.
    • This is speculation on my part but this ties into a global trend of the internet ignoring boundaries, with low cost travel you are seeing more and more people visit other countries and develop cultural connections. This process of regional unification is probably most advanced in Europe. In 1900 France was a distant and foreign country, that took enormous effort to visit. Even in 1987 a flight to England from Ireland amounted to almost 50% of the monthly wage of an average working class worker now its a neighbour that can be visited in most cases cheaper than a train ticket or less than 2 hours work at mini wage
  • Potholes and Big Data
    • Project that used Phone accelerometer to discover the locations of potholes
    • The use of massive data collection and its effect on government
  • Hidden Bias in Big Data
    • This is a counter point to the supposed success of the Boston Potholes Project
    • While certainly a clever approach, StreetBump has a signal problem. People in lower income groups in the US are less likely to have smartphones, and this is particularly true of older residents, where smartphone penetration can be as low as 16%. For cities like Boston, this means that smartphone data sets are missing inputs from significant parts of the population — often those who have the fewest resources.
    • Big data’s signal problems won’t disappear as the use of smartphones and other digital technologies increases. As the geographers Michael Crutcher and Matthew Zook noted after Hurricane Katrina, technologies are always differentially adopted, and “any divide in accessing digital technology is not a one-time event but a constantly moving target as new devices, software and cultural practices emerge.” As we move into an era in which personal devices are seen as proxies for public needs, we run the risk that already existing inequities will be further entrenched. Thus, with every big data set, we need to ask which people are excluded. Which places are less visible? What happens if you live in the shadow of big data sets?
  • Netflix war on mass culture
    • If modern American popular culture was built on a central pillar of mainstream entertainment flanked by smaller subcultures, what stands to replace it is a very different infrastructure, one comprising islands of fandom. With no standard daily cultural diet, we’ll tilt even more from a country united by shows like “I Love Lucy” or “Friends” toward one where people claim more personalized allegiances, such as to the particular bunch of viewers who are obsessed with “Game of Thrones” or who somehow find Ricky Gervais unfailingly hysterical, as opposed to painfully offensive.
    • The baby-boomer intellectuals who lament the erosion of shared values are right: Something will be lost in the transition. At the water cooler or wedding reception or cocktail party or kid’s soccer game, conversations that were once a venue for mutual experiences will become even more strained as chatter about last night’s overtime thriller or “Seinfeld” shenanigans is replaced by grasping for common ground. (“Have you heard of ‘The Defenders’? Yeah? What episode are you on?”) At a deeper level, a country already polarized by the echo chambers of ideologically driven journalism and social media will find itself with even less to agree on.
    • But it’s not all cause for dismay. Community lost can be community gained, and as mass culture weakens, it creates openings for the cohorts that can otherwise get crowded out. When you meet someone with the same particular passions and sensibility, the sense of connection can be profound. Smaller communities of fans, forged from shared perspectives, offer a more genuine sense of belonging than a national identity born of geographical happenstance.
    • Whether a future based fundamentally on fandom is superior in any objective sense is impossible to say. But it’s worth keeping in mind that the whole idea of one great entertainment medium that unites the country isn’t really that old a tradition, particularly American, nor necessarily noble. We may come to remember it as a twentieth-century quirk, born of particular business models and an obsession with national unity indelibly tied to darker projects. The whole ideal of “forging one people” is not entirely benevolent and has always been at odds with a country meant to be the home of the free.

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