You only know someone when you fight them

The critics all agree — ‘Fight’, episode 3 of the second season of ‘Masters of Sex‘ was a master-class of what television is capable of achieving in the art of storytelling.

Exquisitely paced, delicately told, and played with a tough vulnerability by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplain, it was a dance around the ring between their characters, while telling a bigger story about masculinity, respect and gender relations. Playing out in a single hotel room over an hour, the episode was riveting, symbolic and heart-rending for any watcher of the show.

The teaser below doesn’t begin to show what it was about.

Food Trawling in Old Delhi

The only way to end a food trip to Old Delhi is with a trip to Mogambo’s personal coffee shop – the overly dramatic Starbucks in CP.

Exponential Replacement

Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don’t Fire Us? — Mother Jones
This is probably the best summary of the state of AI (exponential growth is not as slow as we think) and its future impact (the Luddites were 200 years too early).
A must-read article. A lot of this replacing-humans-with-machines is already happening, and jobs are disappearing. The Challenge is how we can re-organise society and money, in a new age when few people need to actually work, and machines can do everything better.

Another, more serious, piece at Technology Review Magazine.

Game/Life

(Keep in mind the video shows the actual game in action, during play.)

This is quite possibly the most astonishing entertainment product ever achieved. What started in 1997 as a naughty game about stealing cars and driving badly, has become in 2013 an open-ended, free flowing, satirical interactive game about…well, life.

For many people, looking for alternate realities more comfortable than the offline life, this could be the future of entertainment. Start making money IN the game, and you have a closed loop – the future of an entire lifestyle.

This is You on Smiles

Dave Pell discusses whats happening with instant digital photos, and our attention during events.

During a presentation on happiness at the Ted Conference, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman makes a distinction between the experiencing self and the remembering self.

Digital photography gives additional dominance to the remembering self. At his birthday party on the beach, my son almost leapfrogged over his realtime experience. He was no longer imagining what he looked like on that surf board. He was looking at what he looked like. The wave of emotions, senses and reactions that made up his initial experience were swept away by the undertow of a single sense: what his eyes saw on a two inch viewfinder.

— This is You on Smiles —  Dave Pell at Medium.

India, Know your Misalignments

That’s the core and urgent message of Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s brilliant op-ed in the Indian Express on the unacknowledged root of our present-day ills. It’s not lack of governance, development per se, or even corruption. Its a poverty of self knowledge.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s must-read essay is available here. The FirstPost overview of the essay is here.

“Indian society, with all its changes, is fast becoming a tale of misalignment: its self-understanding and its realities pulling in different directions. The social self-knowledge, the process by which society acquires an insight into its own workings and acts on it, lags behind its material capabilities,” writes Pratap Bhanu Mehta.

We are unable to speak or think about our nation, our politics or our problems in constructive, creative and imaginative ways. And nowhere is this more apparent, according to Mehta, than in the debate over the tradeoff between development and the environment.

Technology: Its ‘doing’ something to us.

Really interesting quote from a Vanity Fair write-up of the ‘New Aesthetic’ – a British  ‘Art Movement-but-its-ridiculous-to-call-anything-that-these-days’. The idea is quite pertinent given the headlines these days. Its core artistic symbol is the unmanned robotic Drone.

“We always think that, as Orwell said, Fascism cannot succeed in Britain because it would be laughed at. I think that what terrifies us about some of the technological implications is that a machine can’t be laughed at. You can’t satirize Google. That’s what spawns new expressions like some of James’s work. It is a very particularly British reaction to the new American century of technology”: technology is something Americans do to us.

Drone Shadow 002 photographed in Istanbul, by James Bridle / BOOKTWO.ORG.
Drone Shadow 002 photographed in Istanbul, by James Bridle / BOOKTWO.ORG.

What the New Aesthetic is —

“It’s just me, looking at this stuff, and going, ‘Have you seen this [the new networked society and technologies]? Have you actually seen it? Have you really paid attention and thought this stuff through? Because I’m trying to, and it’s amazing!’” — James Bridle

The importance of thinking two steps ahead

A short rant on the importance of thinking two steps ahead…and the dilemma of ‘national security’ for citizens in todays world.

Many people think its ok for the govt to monitor *everyones* email, tap *everyones* phones without warrants – to protect us from ‘terrorists’ – because YOU have nothing to hide, you’re a law-abiding citizen.

But what do you do when the govt calls you an ‘enemy of the state’ for protesting a local park from being made into a mall, like in Turkey? or calls journalists a threat to security for reporting govt violations of the law, like in the US?

By watching emails, and listening to phones – something getting easier and automatic due to computers – they can watch you organise a protest, know where you’re going to be, and stop you. This has happened.

The ‘terrorist’ can be *anyone* the govt agency wants it to be. Whats to stop them from planting information in your email inbox?

For those already in power, a good citizen is one who keeps shut.

Heres an Iranian citizen talking about what happened in 2008:

The post-election Iranian uprising in 2008 did not succeed mostly because it was impossible for the people to organize. All communication was being monitored. Phone calls, texts messages, facebook, twitter, everything. All signs of dissent were immediately dealt with harshly. The state crushed the movement, even though there were literally millions of people out on the streets protesting. They just couldn’t get organized. People would agree to assemble the next day at a certain city square, and immediately riot police and pro-government militia would be deployed to exactly that spot, waiting for the crowds. The government had bought a sophisticated surveillance system from Nokia-Siemens that let them collect and mine an immense amount of personal data. I imagine PRISM is infinitely more powerful.
Stop this before it’s too late. You may think your country is immune to the kind of savage insanity that rules the Middle East now, but so did the Iranians in the 1970s.

A much more detailed description here…