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Ayn Rand Is a Dick – Mike Monteiro – Medium
"Silicon Valley has exhibited total comfort with destroying the social fabric of humanity to make a profit.

I got mine. Fuck you."
venturecapital  siliconvalley  aynrand  technology  mikemonteiro  uber  2019  libertarianism  californianideology  economics  politics  policy  via:lukeneff  objectivism 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear
"Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism."



"Insight is precisely what Musk’s strawberry-picking AI lacks, as do all the other AIs that destroy humanity in similar doomsday scenarios. I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations. Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what “good” means with “whatever the market decides.”"



"
It’d be tempting to say that fearmongering about superintelligent AI is a deliberate ploy by tech behemoths like Google and Facebook to distract us from what they themselves are doing, which is selling their users’ data to advertisers. If you doubt that’s their goal, ask yourself, why doesn’t Facebook offer a paid version that’s ad free and collects no private information? Most of the apps on your smartphone are available in premium versions that remove the ads; if those developers can manage it, why can’t Facebook? Because Facebook doesn’t want to. Its goal as a company is not to connect you to your friends, it’s to show you ads while making you believe that it’s doing you a favor because the ads are targeted.

So it would make sense if Mark Zuckerberg were issuing the loudest warnings about AI, because pointing to a monster on the horizon would be an effective red herring. But he’s not; he’s actually pretty complacent about AI. The fears of superintelligent AI are probably genuine on the part of the doomsayers. That doesn’t mean they reflect a real threat; what they reflect is the inability of technologists to conceive of moderation as a virtue. Billionaires like Bill Gates and Elon Musk assume that a superintelligent AI will stop at nothing to achieve its goals because that’s the attitude they adopted. (Of course, they saw nothing wrong with this strategy when they were the ones engaging in it; it’s only the possibility that someone else might be better at it than they were that gives them cause for concern.)

There’s a saying, popularized by Fredric Jameson, that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley capitalists don’t want to think about capitalism ending. What’s unexpected is that the way they envision the world ending is through a form of unchecked capitalism, disguised as a superintelligent AI. They have unconsciously created a devil in their own image, a boogeyman whose excesses are precisely their own.

Which brings us back to the importance of insight. Sometimes insight arises spontaneously, but many times it doesn’t. People often get carried away in pursuit of some goal, and they may not realize it until it’s pointed out to them, either by their friends and family or by their therapists. Listening to wake-up calls of this sort is considered a sign of mental health.

We need for the machines to wake up, not in the sense of computers becoming self-aware, but in the sense of corporations recognizing the consequences of their behavior. Just as a superintelligent AI ought to realize that covering the planet in strawberry fields isn’t actually in its or anyone else’s best interests, companies in Silicon Valley need to realize that increasing market share isn’t a good reason to ignore all other considerations. Individuals often reevaluate their priorities after experiencing a personal wake-up call. What we need is for companies to do the same — not to abandon capitalism completely, just to rethink the way they practice it. We need them to behave better than the AIs they fear and demonstrate a capacity for insight."
ai  elonmusk  capitalism  siliconvalley  technology  artificialintelligence  tedchiang  2017  insight  intelligence  regulation  governance  government  johnperrybarlow  1996  autonomy  externalcontrols  corporations  corporatism  fredericjameson  excess  growth  monopolies  technosolutionism  ethics  economics  policy  civilization  libertarianism  aynrand  billgates  markzuckerberg 
december 2017 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"



"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
No one cares about your jetpack: on optimism in futurism - Dangerous to those who profit from the way things areDangerous to those who profit from the way things are
"This review [http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/tomorrowland-is-like-watching-a-jetpack-eat-itself-1706822006 ] of Disney’s Tomorrowland (and others like it that I have read) got me thinking about something I was asked at the Design In Action summit last week in Edinburgh. I was there participating in the “Once Upon a Future” event, where I read a story called “The Dreams in the Bitch House.” It’s about a tech sorority at a small New England university. And programmable matter.

After I did my keynote and read my story, I did a Q&A. After a few questions, someone in the audience asked: “Why so negative?”

I get this question a lot. I’ve been involved in a couple of “optimistic” science fiction anthologies, namely Shine (edited by Jetse de Vries) and Hieroglyph (edited by Kathryn Cramer and Ed Finn). But people don’t invite me to these because I’m an optimistic person. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Evidence:

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InDOzrtS42M ]

When I was trained as a futurist (I have a Master’s in the subject), I was taught to see the whole scope of a problem. That’s at the root of design thinking. The old joke about designers is that when someone asks how many designers you need to change a lightbulb, the designer asks “Does it need to be a lightbulb?” Because really, what the room needs is a window. When people talk about innovation, that’s what they mean. A re-framing of the issue that helps you see the whole problem and approach it from another angle.

America’s problem is not that it needs more jetpacks. Jetpacks are not innovation. Jetpacks are a fetish object for retrofuturist otaku who jerked off to Judy Jetson, or maybe Jennifer Connelly’s character in The Rocketeer. “We were promised jetpacks!” they whine. Yeah, dude, but what you got was Agent Orange. Imagine a Segway that could kill you and set your house on fire. That’s what a jetpack is.

Jetpacks solve exactly one problem: rapid transit. And you know what would help with that? Better transit. Better telepresence. Better work-life balance. Are jetpacks an innovative solution to the problem of transit? Nope. But they sure look great with your midlife crisis.

But railing against jetpacks isn’t an answer to the question. Why so negative? Three reasons:

1) We have more data than we used to, and we’re obtaining more all the time.

Why don’t we fantasize about life in space like we used to? Because we know it’s really fucking difficult and dangerous. Why don’t we research things like food pills any more? Because we know eating fibre helps prevent colon cancer. We know those things because we’ve done the science. The data is there, and for every piece of technology we use, we accumulate more. It’s hard to argue with that vast wealth of data. At least, it’s hard to do so without looking like some whackjob climate change denier.

2) Less optimistic futures have the power to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

When people ask me, “Why can’t you be more positive?” what I hear is, “Why can’t you tell me a story that conforms to my narrative and comforts me?” Because discomfiting futures have real power. As Alf Rehn notes:
What we need, then, is more uncommon futurism. A futurism that cares not a whit about what’s hot right now, who remain stoically unimpressed by drones and wearable IT, and who instead take it as their job to shock and awe CEOs with visions as radical as those of the futurists of yore. We need futurism that is less interested in agreeing with contemporary futurists and their ongoing circle-jerk, and who takes pride in offending and disgusting those futurists who would like to protect the status quo.


The truth is that the horrible dystopia you’re reading about is already happening to someone else, somewhere else. What makes people nervous is the idea that it could happen to them. That’s why I have to keep sharing it.

3) The most harmful idea in this world is that change is impossible.

Octavia E. Butler said it best: “The only lasting truth / is Change.” And yet, we act like change is impossible. Whether we’re frustrated by policy gridlock, or rolling our eyes at Hollywood reboots, or taking our spouses on the same goddamn date we have for for twenty years, we act as though everything will remain the same, forever and ever, amen. But look around you. Twenty years ago, thinks were very different. Even five years ago, they were different. Look at social progress like gay marriage. Look at the rise of solar power. Look at the shrinking of the ice caps. Things do change, they are changing, and they will change. And not all of those changes will be positive. Not all of them will be negative, either. But change does occur. Rather than thinking of change as a positive or a negative, as utopian or dystopian, just recognize that it’s going to happen and prepare yourself. Futurists don’t predict the future. We see multiple outcomes and help you prepare for them.

In the end, the lacklustre performance of Tomorrowland at the box office has nothing to do with whether optimism is alive or dead. It has to do with changing demographics among moviegoers who know how to spot an Ayn Rand bedtime story when they see one. There are whole generations of moviegoers for whom jetpacks don’t mean shit, whose first memories of NASA are the Challenger disaster. And you know what? Those same generations believe in driverless cars, solar energy, smart cities, AR contacts, and vat-grown meat. They saw the election of America’s first black president, and they witnessed a wave of violence against young black men. They don’t want the depiction of an “optimistic” future. They want a future where their concerns are taken seriously and humanely, with compassion and intelligence and validation. And that’s way harder than optimism."
culture  future  futurism  discourse  madelineashby  2015  tomorrowland  alfrehn  dystopia  octaviabutler  optimism  pessimism  realism  demographics  aynrand  race  establishment  privilege  drones  wearables  power  innovation  jetpacks  telepresence  transit  transportation  work  labor  scifi  sciencefiction  systemsthinking  data  retrofuturism  climatechange  space  food  science  technology  change  truth  socialprogress  progress  solar  solarpower  validation  compassion  canon  work-lifebalance 
june 2015 by robertogreco
My libertarian vacation nightmare: How Ayn Rand, Ron Paul & their groupies were all debunked - Salon.com
"In Honduras, the police ride around in pickup trucks with machine guns, but they aren’t there to protect most people. They are scary to locals and travelers alike. For individual protection there’s an army of private, armed security guards who are found in front of not only banks, but also restaurants, ATM machines, grocery stores and at any building that holds anything of value whatsoever. Some guards have uniforms and long guns but just as many are dressed in street clothes with cheap pistols thrust into waistbands. The country has a handful of really rich people, a small group of middle-class, some security guards who seem to be getting by and a massive group of people who are starving to death and living in slums. You can see the evidence of previous decades of infrastructure investment in roads and bridges, but it’s all in slow-motion decay.

I took a van trip across the country, starting in Copan (where there are must-see Mayan ruins), across to the Caribbean Sea to a ferry that took my family to Roatan Island. The trip from Copan to the coast took a full six hours, and we had two flat tires. The word “treacherous” is inadequate—a better description is “post-apocalyptic.” We did not see one speed limit sign in hundreds of kilometers. Not one. People drive around each other on the right and left and in every manner possible. The road was clogged with horses, scooters and bicycles. People traveled in every conceivable manner along the crumbling arterial. Few cars have license plates, and one taxi driver told me that the private company responsible for making them went bankrupt. Instead of traffic stops, there are military check points every so often. The roads seemed more dangerous to me than the gang violence.

The greatest examples of libertarianism in action are the hundreds of men, women and children standing alongside the roads all over Honduras. The government won’t fix the roads, so these desperate entrepreneurs fill in potholes with shovels of dirt or debris. They then stand next to the filled-in pothole soliciting tips from grateful motorists. That is the wet dream of libertarian private sector innovation.

On the mainland there are two kinds of neighborhoods, slums that seem to go on forever and middle-class neighborhoods where every house is its own citadel. In San Pedro Sula, most houses are surrounded by high stone walls topped with either concertina wire or electric fence at the top. As I strolled past these castle-like fortifications, all I could think about was how great this city would be during a zombie apocalypse."



"One can dismiss the core of near-sociopathic libertarian ideas with one simple question: What kind of society maximizes freedom while providing the best outcomes for the greatest number of human beings? You cannot start with the assumption that a Russian novel writer from the ’50s is a genius, so therefore all ideas about government and society must fit between the pages of “Atlas Shrugged.” That concept is stupid, and sends you on the opposite course of “good outcomes for human beings.” The closer you get to totally untamed, uncontrolled privatization, the nearer you approach “Lord of the Flies.”

These questions about how best to provide a good society are not being asked in Honduras, but they are also ignored in the United States as a matter of routine. We have growing income inequality and government is being ever more controlled by a few extremely wealthy political donors. Our own infrastructure is far from admired worldwide, and the trend doesn’t look good from where I’m sitting. We have yet to stop our own political rhetoric to address the basic question about what kind of place and in what type of society we want to live.

Society should not exist to make a few people fabulously wealthy while others starve. Almost all humanity used to live this way, and we called it feudalism. Many people want to go back to that sort of system, this time under the label of libertarian or “the untrammeled free market.” The name is irrelevant because the results are the same. In Honduras, I did not meet one person who had nice things to say about the government or how the country is run. My takeaway from the trip is that living in a libertarian paradise satisfies only a few of the wealthiest citizens, while everyone else thinks it sucks.

Honduras has problems but people should go visit anyway and soon. The dangers are fleeting, and there are coffee plantations to tour, ruins to see, cigars to smoke and fish to catch. The people need your tourism dollars. As a bonus, it’s important for Americans to see the outcome when the bad ideas of teenage boys and a bad Russian writer are put into practice. Everyone believes in freedom, but it’s an idea both fetishized and unrecognizable when spouted by libertarians. There can be no such thing as freedom, safety or progress of any kind, when an entire society is run for the benefit of a handful of rich assholes and global conglomerates. If you think I’m overstating it, just go to Honduras and see it for yourself."
inequality  libertarianism  libertarians  2015  edwinlyngar  honduras  economics  privatization  infrastructure  us  aynrand  ronpaul  government  capitalism  sanpedrosula 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Ed-Tech's Monsters #ALTC
[video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kiotl4G6fMw ]

"No doubt, we have witnessed in the last few years an explosion in the ed-tech industry and a growing, a renewed interest in ed-tech. Those here at ALT-C know that ed-tech is not new by any means; but there is this sense from many of its newest proponents (particularly in the States) that ed-tech has no history; there is only now and the future.

Ed-tech now, particularly that which is intertwined with venture capital, is boosted by a powerful forms of storytelling: a disruptive innovation mythology, entrepreneurs' hagiography, design fiction, fantasy.

A fantasy that wants to extend its reach into the material world.

Society has been handed a map, if you will, by the technology industry in which we are shown how these brave ed-tech explorers have and will conquer and carve up virtual and physical space.

Fantasy.

We are warned of the dragons in dangerous places, the unexplored places, the over explored places, the stagnant, the lands of outmoded ideas — all the places where we should no longer venture. 

Hic Sunt Dracones. There be dragons.

Instead, I’d argue, we need to face our dragons. We need to face our monsters. We need to face the giants. They aren’t simply on the margins; they are, in many ways, central to the narrative."



"I’m in the middle of writing a book called Teaching Machines, a cultural history of the science and politics of ed-tech. An anthropology of ed-tech even, a book that looks at knowledge and power and practices, learning and politics and pedagogy. My book explores the push for efficiency and automation in education: “intelligent tutoring systems,” “artificially intelligent textbooks,” “robo-graders,” and “robo-readers.”

This involves, of course, a nod to “the father of computer science” Alan Turing, who worked at Bletchley Park of course, and his profoundly significant question “Can a machine think?”

I want to ask in turn, “Can a machine teach?”

Then too: What will happen to humans when (if) machines do “think"? What will happen to humans when (if) machines “teach”? What will happen to labor and what happens to learning?

And, what exactly do we mean by those verbs, “think” and “teach”? When we see signs of thinking or teaching in machines, what does that really signal? Is it that our machines are becoming more “intelligent,” more human? Or is it that humans are becoming more mechanical?

Rather than speculate about the future, I want to talk a bit about the past."



"To oppose technology or to fear automation, some like The Economist or venture capitalist Marc Andreessen argue, is to misunderstand how the economy works. (I’d suggest perhaps Luddites understand how the economy works quite well, thank you very much, particularly when it comes to questions of “who owns the machinery” we now must work on. And yes, the economy works well for Marc Andreessen, that’s for sure.)"



"But even without machines, Frankenstein is still read as a cautionary tale about science and about technology; and Shelley’s story has left an indelible impression on us. Its references are scattered throughout popular culture and popular discourse. We frequently use part of the title — “Franken” — to invoke a frightening image of scientific experimentation gone wrong. Frankenfood. Frankenfish. The monster, a monstrosity — a technological crime against nature.

It is telling, very telling, that we often confuse the scientist, Victor Frankenstein, with his creation. We often call the monster Frankenstein.

As the sociologist Bruno Latour has argued, we don’t merely mistake the identity of Frankenstein; we also mistake his crime. It "was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology,” writes Latour, "but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself.”

The creature — again, a giant — insists in the novel that he was not born a monster, but he became monstrous after Frankenstein fled the laboratory in horror when the creature opened his “dull yellow eye,” breathed hard, and convulsed to life.

"Remember that I am thy creature,” he says when he confronts Frankenstein, "I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good— misery made me a fiend.”

As Latour observes, "Written at the dawn of the great technological revolutions that would define the 19th and 20th centuries, Frankenstein foresees that the gigantic sins that were to be committed would hide a much greater sin. It is not the case that we have failed to care for Creation, but that we have failed to care for our technological creations. We confuse the monster for its creator and blame our sins against Nature upon our creations. But our sin is not that we created technologies but that we failed to love and care for them. It is as if we decided that we were unable to follow through with the education of our children.”

Our “gigantic sin”: we failed to love and care for our technological creations. We must love and educate our children. We must love and care for our machines, lest they become monsters.

Indeed, Frankenstein is also a novel about education. The novel is structured as a series of narratives — Captain Watson’s story — a letter he sends to his sister as he explores the Arctic— which then tells Victor Frankenstein’s story through which we hear the creature tell his own story, along with that of the De Lacey family and the arrival of Safie, “the lovely Arabian." All of these are stories about education: some self-directed learning, some through formal schooling.

While typically Frankenstein is interpreted as a condemnation of science gone awry, the novel can also be read as a condemnation of education gone awry. The novel highlights the dangerous consequences of scientific knowledge, sure, but it also explores how knowledge — gained inadvertently, perhaps, gained surreptitiously, gained without guidance — might be disastrous. Victor Frankenstein, stumbling across the alchemists and then having their work dismissed outright by his father, stoking his curiosity. The creature, learning to speak by watching the De Lacey family, learning to read by watching Safie do the same, his finding and reading Volney's Ruins of Empires and Milton’s Paradise Lost."



"To be clear, my nod to the Luddites or to Frankenstein isn’t about rejecting technology; but it is about rejecting exploitation. It is about rejecting an uncritical and unexamined belief in progress. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it's that we have pretended like it is truth and divorced from responsibility, from love, from politics, from care. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it’s that it does not, despite its insistence, give us “the answer."

And that is problem with ed-tech’s monsters. That is the problem with teaching machines.

In order to automate education, must we see knowledge in a certain way, as certain: atomistic, programmable, deliverable, hierarchical, fixed, measurable, non-negotiable? In order to automate that knowledge, what happens to care?"



"I’ll leave you with one final quotation, from Hannah Arendt who wrote,
"Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from that ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.”

Our task, I believe, is to tell the stories and build the society that would place education technology in that same light: “renewing a common world.”

We in ed-tech must face the monsters we have created, I think. These are the monsters in the technologies of war and surveillance a la Bletchley Park. These are the monsters in the technologies of mass production and standardization. These are the monsters in the technologies of behavior modification a la BF Skinner.

These are the monsters ed-tech must face. And we must all consider what we need to do so that we do not create more of them."
audreywatters  edtech  technology  education  schools  data  monsters  dragons  frankenstein  luddites  luddism  neoluddism  alanturing  thomaspynchon  society  bfskinner  standardization  surveillance  massproduction  labor  hannaharendt  brunolatour  work  kevinkelly  technosolutionism  erikbrynjolfsson  lordbyron  maryshelley  ethics  hierarchy  children  responsibility  love  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  learning  politics  policy  democracy  exploitation  hierarchies  progress  science  scientism  markets  aynrand  liberarianism  projectpigeon  teachingmachines  personalization  individualization  behavior  behaviorism  economics  capitalism  siliconvalley 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Libertarian enclaves: Bitcoin paradise | The Economist
"A GROUP of self-described anarchists, libertarians and Ron Paul supporters fleeing the crumbling world economic system have founded Galt's Gulch, a community in Chile inspired by Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged”—and with an economy based entirely on Bitcoin. Or that's the goal, anyway.

"Our farm workers and suppliers still want to get paid in pesos,” Ken Johnson, the project’s founder and managing partner, explains. "But Bitcoin as the John Galt coin? Why shouldn't it be?”

If the world economic system "goes sideways," as Mr Johnson puts it, residents will retreat to their self-sufficient gated community, where they will enjoy a shooting range, equestrian facilities, and spa and fitness center. The 6,874-hectare site (pictured) also includes a 100-hectare farm, although it is not clear who will pick the lettuce when the world ends.

Galt's Gulch Chile—a name impossible for local Spanish-speakers to pronounce—will also boast an innovation centre, where expatriate libertarian dentists and chiropractors may ply their trade. In exchange for Bitcoin, of course.

In the event the world economic system fails to collapse on schedule, however, Mr Johnson has a plan B—his new trademark, Galt's Gulch Organics. "The farm came with 65 hectares of lemons," he says. "The US and Japanese markets pay a premium for organic, non-GMO produce." Plans are in the works to plant herbs, spices, fruit, nuts, and vineyards, and organic certification is not far off.

A quirk of Chilean law makes land, mining and water rights independent of each other. Mr Johnson made sure to acquire all three, particularly the water rights. "In the future, wars will be fought over water," he says. Two rivers border the land, and the community sits atop 56 known water wells. Galt's Gulch bottled mineral water may soon be in the offing. Mr Johnson is also building guest haciendas to house not only prospective buyers, but also, he hopes, tourists.

Set in a secluded valley 17 kilometres from Curacavi, Chile, on the road between Santiago and the luxurious beach resort of Viña del Mar, Galt's Gulch is a mere forty-five minutes by car from the Santiago airport, but, as Mr Johnson says, "it feels like you're at the end of the Earth." Yet his goal is not isolationist, he adds. "We're not trying to hide from the world. In fact we want people to find us.”

Indeed, of the 430 lots for sale, only 12% have sold so far, and Mr Johnson is marketing vigorously to the libertarian and Bitcoin communities. Lots are priced in both dollars and Bitcoin, with big discounts for buyers who pay in that crypto-currency. Many early adopters of Bitcoin find themselves sitting on small fortunes, and Mr Johnson hopes to tempt them to diversify into real estate. So far nine clients have paid in Bitcoin, totaling around $1.5m in revenue.

Mr Johnson, a former California real estate agent and evangelist of water ionizers (devices supposed to slow aging and prevent disease, but derided as snake oil by many scientists) has become something of a celebrity in libertarian circles. Authors such as Ben Swann, Josh Tolley, Luke Rudkowski, Bob Murphy, Angela Keaton, Tatiana Moroz and Wendy McElroy have visited the site of his future utopia, and a television production company is pitching a documentary series on the community.

Most buyers so far, he says, are expats or second-home buyers. For Mr Johnson, the appeal is easy to explain. "It's like California, only forty or fifty years ago. Feels like you've stepped back in time.” Mr Johnson plans to break ground in 2014, and estimates five years to fulfill his vision of a place where he can "live and let live, thrive and let thrive.”

Why does he think his project will succeed where similar schemes have failed? "We're a freedom-minded community, but we're not trying to create a sovereign state," he explains. "We pay our taxes, we obey the law. Our goal is to lessen the effect of the rest of the world without telling the world to go take a flying leap."

As for Ayn Rand, just how much have her ideas influenced the community's design? Mr Johnson admits he never finished “Atlas Shrugged”. "I'm not actually much of a reader," he says. "Watched the movie and skimmed the Cliff's Notes, though. Good stuff.""

[Shiver at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJyafOxDOeE ]

[See also: http://galtsgulchchile.com/
http://dollarvigilante.com/blog/2013/5/27/ayn-rands-vision-of-galts-gulch-has-become-reality-as-of-tod.html
http://dollarvigilante.com/blog/2013/9/3/galt%E2%80%99s-gulch-chile-%E2%80%93-where-the-world-is-coming-to.html ]

[Update: http://www.thedailybell.com/editorials/35591/Wendy-McElroy-The-Fate-of-Galts-Gulch-Chile/

"Unbeknown to most purchasers, dramatic changes had occurred behind the scenes. Through maze-like transfers of cash and authority, Jeff Berwick was shoved out of the project and Ken Johnson was in control. I have sorted out most of the obfuscating tangle and I may soon be writing a history of the labyrinthine matter. For the moment, suffice it to say there is basis for various lawsuits; some are being pursued.

There will be no zoning for the 1.25-acre lots or other arrangements of less than 10 acres. Lots over 10 acres are beyond my ken. GGC is an environmentally protected area and it would take the political movement of heaven and earth to allow a community based on small lots to be officially approved. I had the opportunity to ask a question of the salesman who showed my husband and me "our property." I claimed it because I fell head over heels for the most beautiful tree I've ever seen. I felt an instant connection as though the two of us were old souls who had found each other. I could believe it, I could see it... waking up each morning and having coffee under that tree, telling it about my plans for the day. Months later, in a Skype conference, I asked the then-GGC-alienated salesman, "When you 'sold' us the property, when you printed out a photo from your phone that read 'Wendy's tree,' did you know you could not legally sell us the lot you were offering?" He said, "That is correct."

I suppose there is some comfort in being fleeced in good company, in being in the company of some of the smartest businessmen in the movement. I am not reassured. Perhaps it is because I am an Irish peasant and what reassures me is owning the land under my feet.

But something reassuring is happening. For a few months now, what I call "the founding fathers" have been trying to purchase all rights to GGC and to reboot. It is not just a financial investment to them. They want to live in a community with like-minded people; they want the promise of freedom. I don't know if they can succeed but I support them.

There are genuine problems that should discourage all and any from currently investing in GGC. For example – and just one of many, many examples – GGC owes immense debts to vendors in the closest town of Curacavi. Brad and I spent two weeks there and fell in love with the people, the town, the experience. But GGC owes hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to hardware stores, service providers... ordinary Chileans who are acutely harmed by the project's malfeasance. They will be and should be first in line for repayment from any legal actions. GGC is heavily encumbered with no good outcome in the near future.

I remain a friend of Jeff Berwick. I continue to admire the founding fathers of GGC and I do nothing but wish them success. I hope to be part of the resolution. But no one, no one should invest their hard-earned money in this venture before a resolution is clear. I don't want to have you on my conscience."]

[Update II: http://dollarvigilante.com/blog/2014/8/27/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-on-galts-gulch-chile.html ]
aynrand  chile  libertarianism  libertarians  bitcoin  objectivism  galt'sgultch  kenjohnson  curacavi  benswann  joshtolley  lukerudkowski  bobmurphy  angelakeaton  tatianamoroz  wendymcelroy  utopianism  utopia 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Paris Review – Document: The Symbolism Survey, Sarah Funke Butler
"In 1963, a sixteen-year-old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. Did they consciously plant symbols in their work? he asked. Who noticed symbols appearing from their subconscious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbidden, created in the minds of their readers? When this happened, did the authors mind?

McAllister had just published his first story, “The Faces Outside,” in both IF magazine and Simon and Schuster’s 1964 roundup of the best science fiction of the year. Confident, if not downright cocky, he thought the surveys could settle a conflict with his English teacher by proving that symbols weren’t lying beneath the texts they read like buried treasure awaiting discovery.

His project involved substantial labor—this before the Internet, before e-mail—but was not impossible: many authors and their representatives were listed in the Twentieth-Century American Literature series found in the local library. More impressive is that seventy-five writers replied—most of them, in earnest. Sixty-five of those responses survive (McAllister lost ten to “a kleptomaniacal friend”). Answers ranged from the secretarial blow off to a thick packet of single-spaced typescript in reply.

The pages here feature a number of the surveys in facsimile: Jack Kerouac, Ayn Rand, Ralph Ellison, Ray Bradbury, John Updike, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer. Each responder offers a unique take on the issue itself—symbolism in literature—as well as on handling a sixteen-year-old aspirant approaching writers as masters of their craft.

Even if he approached them en masse, with a form letter.

And failed to follow up with a thank-you note."

[via http://mentalfloss.com/article/30937/famous-novelists-symbolism-their-work-and-whether-it-was-intentional
via http://thoughts.russgoerend.com/post/68892626778/on-symbolism-and-digging-for-deeper-meaning
via https://pinboard.in/u:lukeneff/b:0a007ce18bed ]
art  literature  symbolism  surveys  brucemcallister  writing  fiction  1963  jackkerouac  aynrand  ralphellison  raybradbury  johnupdike  saulbellow  normanmailer 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Tom Friedman: A New Ayn Rand for A Dark Digital Future
"There are alternatives we can pursue collectively: An aggressive government program of job creation. A return to the days of social mobility. An end to the gross concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. And, above all, affordable education for all so that we can restore the American dream of self-advancement.

Instead Friedman glorifies globalization and the destruction of good jobs. He’s indifferent to the loss of social mobility and infatuated with mediocre or at best mildly clever web enterprises. Friedman is the praise singer of Palo Alto, the griot of Los Gatos, and he’s never met a Internet billionaire he didn’t like.

Thomas Friedman is the perfect mirror for the undeserved self-infatuation which has infected our corporate, media, and political class. He’s the chief fabulist of the detached elite, the unfettered Id of the global aristocracy, the Horatio Alger of self-deluded, self-serving, self-promoting techno-hucksterism."
disruption  economics  punditry  2013  thomasfriedman  corporatism  class  politics  policy  globalization  aristocracy  technosolutionism  neoliberalism  aynrand  us 
july 2013 by robertogreco
At Sears, Eddie Lampert's Warring Divisions Model Adds to the Troubles - Businessweek
"Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem: Lampert. Many of its troubles can be traced to an organizational model the chairman implemented five years ago, an idea he has said will save the company. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.

Instead, the divisions turned against each other—and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered. Interviews with more than 40 former executives, many of whom sat at the highest levels of the company, paint a picture of a business that’s ravaged by infighting as its divisions battle over fewer resources. (Many declined to go on the record for a variety of reasons, including fear of angering Lampert.) Shaunak Dave, a former executive who left in 2012 and is now at sports marketing agency Revolution, says the model created a “warring tribes” culture. “If you were in a different business unit, we were in two competing companies,” he says. “Cooperation and collaboration aren’t there.”"
competition  collaboration  aynrand  eddielampert  sears  2013  freemarket  economics  motivation  cooperation  business 
july 2013 by robertogreco
George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year - NYTimes.com
"You could call this desire — to really have that awareness, to be as open as possible, all the time, to beauty and cruelty and stupid human fallibility and unexpected grace — the George Saunders Experiment."

“He’s such a generous spirit, you’d be embarrassed to behave in a small way around him.”

“There’s no one who has a better eye for the absurd and dehumanizing parameters of our current culture of capital. But then the other side is how the cool rigor of his fiction is counterbalanced by this enormous compassion. Just how capacious his moral vision is sometimes gets lost, because few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does.”

"the process of trying to say something, of working through craft issues and the worldview issues and the ego issues—all of this is character-building, and, God forbid, everything we do should have concrete career results. I’ve seen time and time again the way that the process of trying to say something dignifies and improves a person."

""...I don’t really think the humanist verities are quite enough. Because that would be crazy if they were. It would be so weird if we knew just as much as we needed to know to answer all the questions of the universe. Wouldn’t that be freaky? Whereas the probability is high that there is a vast reality that we have no way to perceive, that’s actually bearing down on us now and influencing everything. The idea of saying, ‘Well, we can’t see it, therefore we don’t need to see it,’ seems really weird to me.”"
struggle  progress  suicide  davidfosterwallace  canon  understanding  kindness  living  life  thinking  open  openminded  dignity  character  integrity  ideals  morality  humans  human  fallibility  aynrand  capitalism  careerism  compassion  junotdíaz  humanism  writing  economics  empathy  georgesaunders  2012  wisdom  storytelling 
january 2013 by robertogreco
The ARPANET Dialogues
"an archive of rare conversations within the contemporary social, political and cultural milieu"

Vol. I
Published on 9 October 2010
ARPANET Test 1975 with Marcel Broodthaers, Jane Fonda, Ronald Reagan & Edward Said…

Vol. II
Published on 14 March 2011
ARPANET Test June 1976 with Samir Amin, Steve Biko, Francis Fukuyama & Minoru Yamasaki…

Vol. III
Published on 1 November 2011
ARPANET Test March 1976 with Joseph Beuys, Juan Downey, Rosalind Krauss & Henry Moore…

Vol. IV
Published on 4 March 2012
ARPANET Test April 1976 with Jim Henson, Ayn Rand, Sidney Nolan & Yoko Ono…"

[See also: http://meaning.boxwith.com/projects/the-arpanet-dialogues and http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2011/04/so-reagan-signs-into-this-chatroom.html ]
satire  humor  internet  darpa  donaldlupton  artdubai2011  manifesta8  1975  1976  yokoono  sidneynolan  aynrand  jimhenson  henrymoore  rosalindkrauss  juandowney  josephbeuys  minoruyamasaki  francisfukuyama  stevebiko  samiramin  edwardsaid  ronaldreagan  janefonda  marcelbroodthaers  conversations  culture  philosophy  politics  netart  history  arpanet 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Why Arabic is Terrific [Bookmarking this twice, this time for the footnote.]
"There's something about intelligence agencies - maybe the familiar comfort of a three-letter acronym on the wall, maybe the late-night spanking parties - that draws fraternity boys like ants to a picnic, and right now the road to bro advancement leads through an Arabic classroom. Their complete lack of a sense of irony allows these students to combine sincere appreciation for The Fountainhead with a desire for a lifelong career in government service, and the hardest part of studying Arabic is having to listen to their asinine opinions after they have gained enough proficiency to try to express them."
maciejceglowski  irony  aynrand  thefountainhead  libertarianism  objectivism  government  2011  maciejcegłowski 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Billionaire King of Techtopia: Critical Eye : Details
"It’s a vivid, wild-eyed dream—think Burning Man as reimagined by Ayn Rand’s John Galt and steered out to sea by Captain Nemo—but Friedman and Thiel, aware of the long and tragicomic history of failed libertarian utopias, believe that entrepreneurial zeal sets this scheme apart. One potential model is something Friedman calls Appletopia: A corporation, such as Apple, “starts a country as a business. The more desirable the country, the more valuable the real estate,” Friedman says. When I ask if this wouldn’t amount to a shareholder dictatorship, he doesn’t flinch. “The way most dictatorships work now, they’re enforced on people who aren’t allowed to leave.” Appletopia, or any seasteading colony, would entail a more benevolent variety of dictatorship, similar to your cell-phone contract: You don’t like it, you leave. Citizenship as free agency, you might say."<br />
<br />
[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/9251562982/it-goes-like-this-friedman-wants-to-establish-new ]
peterthiel  libertarianism  aynrand  objectivism  patrifriedman  seasteading  2011  capitalism  appletopia  corporatism  antisocial 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Atlas Shrugged: Silicon Valley billionaire reveals plan to launch floating 'start up country' off coast of San Francisco | Mail Online
"PayPal-founder Peter Thiel was so inspired by Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand's novel about free-market capitalism - that he's trying to make its title a reality.

The Silicon Valley billionaire has funnelled $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, an organization that aspires to launch a floating colony into international waters, freeing them and like-minded thinkers to live by Libertarian ideals.

Mr Thiel recently told Details magazine that: 'The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn't do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?'"
libertarianism  peterthiel  seasteading  seasteadinginstitute  2011  atlasshrugged  aynrand  capitalism 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Favorite Books of the Secretly Jerky | The Hairpin
"Secretly Planning to Cheat on You: On the Road, Jack Kerouac.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This book is straight up terrible. It's a bunch of rambling about eating some sandwiches and driving around while eating sandwiches, and driving around, and then making some more sandwiches, which you will then eat while driving around. It is the universal favorite book of commitment-phobes. And please don't quote me that paragraph about how the only people for you are the mad ones who pop like roman candles. You know what’s better than a dude who pops like a roman candle? A dude who can keep it in his pants, rent his own apartment, and cook you something other than a sandwich once in a while."
books  humor  reviews  classics  catcherintherye  ontheroad  jackkerouac  jdsalinger  atlasshrugged  aynrand  huntersthompson  fearandloathinginlasvegas  americanpsycho  breteastonellis  literature  via:timcarmody 
july 2011 by robertogreco
All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace Episode 1 | varnelis.net
"But I had high hopes for this series. It had been some time since he had made a new one and I thought that by now he would have reworked his style and produced something of striking originality. I had hoped for a fresh take on network culture. After all, I will be the first with my hand in the air to accuse network culture of promoting elitism and individualism. Its influence on our society, particularly on the academy and the creative fields, has been pervasive and pernicious.

All Watched Over, alas, almost descends into self-parody. The first episode seems to loosely take Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron's fifteen year old Californian Ideology article as a reference point (although he fails to mention that they coined the term in a critical essay and misses the point about the critical influence of the counterculture in forging Silicon Valley's libertarian mindset) but he veers off into a protracted discussion of Ayn Rand."
aynrand  kazysvarnelis  allwathedoverbymachinesoflovinggrace  adamcurtis  networkculture  networks  californianideology  andycameron  richardbarbrook  alangreenspan  wallstreet  chicagoschool  billclinton  geoffwaite  davidharvey  cyberculture  fredturner  thecenturyoftheself  2011 
june 2011 by robertogreco
KNOTS: the architecture of problems « LEBBEUS WOODS
"we should not let the lack of a ready answer be a reason to avoid asking a question. Indeed, the only questions worth asking are those for which we do not already have an answer. In this seminar we will not shy away from looking at the most daunting problems.

The approach we will take is based on a way of breaking down—analyzing—problems in terms of three components of every problem we as architects confront: the spatial, the social, and the philosophical. Certainly there are other possible categories we could employ, but I have chosen these based on my experiences and also to work well within the structure of our seminar and its time-frame. The following presentation is an example of how the three chosen categories work in attempting to formulate a particularly intractable ‘knot’ confronting us today: the problem of slums:"
architecture  problemsolving  slums  lebbeuswoods  philosophy  theory  infrastructure  knots  mcescher  stanleykubrick  theshining  cities  poverty  riodejaneiro  sãopaulo  social  society  mumbai  nyc  singapore  manila  design  community  gatedcommunities  wealth  disparity  thomashobbes  human  johnlocke  magnacarta  history  declarationofindependence  capitalism  socialism  adamsmith  socialmobility  communism  karlmarx  marxism  friedrichengels  aynrand  objectivism 
october 2010 by robertogreco
What I Think About Atlas Shrugged « Whatever
"it’s a totally ridiculous book which can be summed up as Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs. (This is, incidentally, where you can start your popcorn munching.) Indeed, the enduring popularity of Atlas Shrugged lies in the fact that it is nerd revenge porn — if you’re an nerd of an engineering-ish stripe who remembers all too well being slammed into your locker by a bunch of football dickheads, then the idea that people like you could make all those dickheads suffer by “going Galt” has a direct line to the pleasure centers of your brain. I’ll show you! the nerds imagine themselves crying. I’ll show you all! And then they disappear into a crevasse that Google Maps will not show because the Google people are our kind of people, and a year later they come out and everyone who was ever mean to them will have starved. …"
aynrand  books  philosophy  humor  johnscalzi  atlasshrugged  objectivism 
october 2010 by robertogreco
The School of Life : On Mutuality
"Mutuality rather than independence is the chief characteristic of human life, whatever we'd like to believe. Many prefer to see human life as one long competitive struggle for dominance. Philosopher Edmund Burke, Darwin's champion Herbert Spencer (who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest") and Ayn Rand (high priestess of the American idea of rugged individualism) are among those who characterise human life in terms of the struggle between individuals for the spoils of humanity. Science is increasingly contradicting this view: rather than being a species of arch individualists, we are the social ape. We live in larger, more complex groups than our closest cousins, collaborating with friends and strangers thanks to our nuanced social brain. Indeed, we use other people's brains to navigate the world: to acquire skills and practices, and to access knowledge systems of long-dead strangers. We call this "culture"."

[via: http://twitter.com/cervus/statuses/17735266663 ]
human  relationships  sociology  social  culture  tcsnmy  conversation  connectivism  connectedness  interdependency  knowledgesystems  systems  humanity  mutuality  brain  collaboration  lcproject  strangers  internet  web  online  technium  darwin  edmundburke  herbertspencer  aynrand  individualism  toshare  competition  cooperation  independence  theschooloflife  charlesdarwin 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Trouble With Teens | China Power
"Having skipped tumultuous teenage years, Chinese are forever doomed to live as teenagers all their lives. Whereas Americans may be stubborn, moody, quick to anger, insecure, impetuous, condescending, extreme, & paranoid in teenage years, Chinese may suffer from these psychological issues all their lives. The psychologists who wrote Reviving Ophelia, Raising Cain, & Real Boys may not be happy w/ how American families & schools are distorting emotional development of children, but if they came to China they’d faint in horror & despair."

[via http://twitter.com/janchip/status/15102206749 "wobbly sociology+sterotypes and/but interesting" ]
china  education  opinion  social  teens  youth  empathy  independence  self  identity  parenting  schools  tcsnmy  chinese  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  adolescence  management  business  cooperation  collaboration  aynrand  narcissism  well-being  socialemotionallearning  culture  students  us  socialemotional 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Ayn Rand: The Boring Bitch is Back | The Big Picture
"I imagine that Freud would bluntly use Randian logic to note they inhabit a guise of superiority in part to compensate for vast and deeply felt inferiorities and insecurities. ... The takeaway in his book Outliers The Story of Success is quite unRandian — it is that luck plays an enormous factor in out-sized success. That is a factor the Randians prefer to ignore. ... Worst of all, Rand’s Objectivism has become the rationale for all manner of morally repugnant behaviour. However, I did take one personal lesson from Atlas Shrugged to heart: Anytime I see a parked car with a John Galt bumper sticker, I like to knock off one of the sideview mirrors, and leave it on the hood. I include a note stating my selfish, random act made me feel good, and therefore should be a perfectly fine act in their world.
politics  philosophy  aynrand  objectivism  crisis  2009  economics  policy  society  snark  books  criticism  elitism 
november 2009 by robertogreco
The Bitch is Back: Books: GQ
"2009’s most influential author is a mirthless Russian-American who loves money, hates God, and swings a gigantic dick. She died in 1982, but her spawn soldier on. And the Great Recession is all their fault. ... Feeling fisted by the Invisible Hand of the Market lo these past fifteen months? Lost a job lately? Or half the value of your 401(k)? Or a home? All three? Been wondering whence the too-long-ascendant political and economic ideas and forces behind Greenspanism, John Thainism, blind Wall Street plunder, bankruptcy, credit-default swaps, Bernie Madoff, and the ensuing Cannibalism in the Streets? Then you, sir, need to give thanks to Ayn Rand Assholes everywhere—as well as the steely loins from which they sprang.”
society  aynrand  objectivism  snark  books  criticism  2009  crisis  policy  politics  elitism  economics 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Book Review - 'Ayn Rand and the World She Made,' by Anne C.­Heller - Review - NYTimes.com
"Rand’s particular intellectual contribution, the thing that makes her so popular and so American, is the way she managed to mass market elitism — to convince so many people, especially young people, that they could be geniuses without being in any concrete way distinguished. Or, rather, that they could distinguish themselves by the ardor of their commitment to Rand’s teaching. The very form of her novels makes the same point: they are as cartoonish and sexed-up as any best seller, yet they are constantly suggesting that the reader who appreciates them is one of the elect. ... Branden fell in love with a young actress and was expelled from Rand’s circle forever. That he went on to write several best-­selling books of popular psychology “and earned the appellation ‘father of the self-esteem movement’ ” is the kind of finishing touch that makes truth stranger than fiction. For if there is one thing Rand’s life shows, it is the power, and peril, of unjustified self-esteem."
aynrand  objectivism  atlasshrugged  politics  economics  history  psychology  literature  capitalism  books  society  us  elitism  conservatives 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Kung Fu Monkey: Ephemera 2009 (7)
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
books  youth  reading  aynrand  atlasshrugged  lordoftherings  libertarianism  fantasy  influence 
march 2009 by robertogreco
LRB · John Lanchester: Is it Art?
"The only thing which isn’t ridiculous about Rand & her ‘objectivism’ is the number of people who take her seriously. It would be a good time for someone to publish a work of fiction or make a movie going into Rand’s ideas and duffing them up a bit – for instance, imagining what it would look like if a society with no laws were turned over to the free will of self-denominated geniuses. Well, someone has done that, except it isn’t a book or movie, it’s a video game. BioShock" "The other way in which games might converge on art is through the beauty and detail of their imagined worlds, combined with the freedom they give the player to wander around in them. Already quite a few games offer what’s known as ‘sandbox’ potential, to allow the player to ignore specific missions and tasks and just to roam around."
via:preoccupations  videogames  art  culture  games  gaming  writing  bioshock  aynrand  objectivism  miyamoto  mario  gta  littlebigplanet  willwright  spore  thesims  grandtheftauto 
december 2008 by robertogreco
McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Atlas Shrugged Updated for the Current Financial Crisis.
""I heard the thugs in Washington were trying to take your Rearden metal at the point of a gun," she said. "Don't let them, Hank. With your advanced alloy and my high-tech railroad, we'll revitalize our country's failing infrastructure and make big, virtuous profits."
politics  economics  bailout  crisis  2008  aynrand  libertarianism  objectivism  atlasshrugged  mcsweeneys  humor  finance  capitalism  satire 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Half an Hour: Individualism and Classism
"My epistemology is based, not on atomism, but rather, on a sense of connectedness between interacting individuals, each of which prings its own uniqueness, its own perspective, to the mix."
stephendownes  kant  individual  self  identity  learning  libertarianism  society  egoism  aynrand  connectivism 
july 2008 by robertogreco

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