1/ So, I read @adriandaub “What Tech Calls Thinking”, a book I was predisposed to like, not just because I’m interesting in the topic (a cultural critique of tech), but also it caters directly to people like me who believe in the value of higher eduction and critical thinking Image
@adriandaub 2/ And how does tech, that is Silicon Valley, think? Basically, like bumbling undergrads who grab trivialized versions of serious concepts, which they misinterpret to provide their privileged and parochial experiences with faux drama (dropping out! disruption!) and universalism.
@adriandaub 3/ Fair enough, but is that really all? Unless you read the book closely, you might miss that most tech entrepreneurs were engineering rather than humanities students. Has perhaps the culture of engineering (or economics or law) also shaped their thinking?
@adriandaub 4/ Apart from the few general remarks on cybernetics and some more on Ayn Rand, we get very little about these fields. A lot seems to be missing. OK, it’s a slim book. But what really disappointed me was that its style is very similar to the tech thinking it criticizes
@adriandaub 5/ The concepts it covers are interesting enough, but their treatment is more essayistic than theoretical (e.g. ignoring most other research in the field) and their selection seems to make a preconceived point (tech culture is shallow), rather than to explore a question.
@adriandaub 6/ So, we miss much of the interesting stuff. What kind of thinking is behind the increasingly anti-democratic orientation of tech? Or its well-documented hostility towards women? Or its visions of genetic improvements, and fantasies of immortality?
@adriandaub 7/ Overall, I learned, albeit indirectly, more about the specific silicon valley style of thinking from Kai-Fu Lee’s AI Superpowers. He at least highlights the particulars of US tech culture in terms of ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions and fantasies of frictionless remote control.
@adriandaub 8/ To end, a real recommendation for those interested in a deeper cultural history of ‘tech’: David Noble. A World Without Women: The Christian Clerical Culture of Western Science (1992). Still relevant today. Image

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More from @stalfel

16 Nov
1/ So, I read “Blockchain Chicken Farm" by @xrw . It’s one of the best books I read this year, not just because its starting point (the countryside) is counter-intuitive for a “metronormative” person like me, but also because it’s much more than simply a book about tech. Image
@xrw 2/ It’s a reflection on the transformation of social and natural life under digital capitalism, full of off-hand remarks such as: The “right to privacy is not an individualistic one of secrets and stories, but a social one that requires us to lead with trust in our daily lives.”
@xrw 3/ @xrw is sharply critical of how the drive for optimization and scale underlying the transformation of the Chinese country-side is driving a ‘race to the bottom.’ Yet, the past of back-breaking poverty offers no reason for nostalgia, they (the author is non-binary) are also ...
Read 8 tweets
11 Nov
So, ich habe das neue Buch von @Viktor_MS gelesen. In a nutshell: Nicht Rechenleistung, nicht Algorithmen, nicht Data Scientists, nicht Risikokapital sind knapp, sondern der Zugang zu Daten. Die grossen Firmen (in USA und China) haben alle Modelle entwickelt, (1/5) Image
@Viktor_MS durch die sie immer mehr Daten sammeln, so dass ihr Konkurrenzvorteil immer grösser wird und sie de-facto Monopolstatus erreichen. Europa kommt dabei immer mehr ins Hintertreffen, Innovation wird abgewürgt, eine neue Form des Kolonialmus entsteht. (2/5)
@Viktor_MS Datenschutz ist ein untaugliches Mittel dagegen. Was würde helfen: Europa muss Konzerne zwingen, ihre Daten offen zu legen, so dass alle darauf zurück greifen können. Monopole werden aufgebrochen, die Hürden für Innovation radikal gesenkt. (3/5)
Read 6 tweets
2 May
While we continue to talk about #Tracing apps, we are missing out in what happens on the level of infrastructure.

I see three things:

1) Amazon and other "just-in.time" services are becoming essential infrastructure. Thus consolidating their (near monopoly) power.
2) Social media companies are consolidating their central role shaping public discourse. How? Content moderation is expanded, and, as the lock-down keeps workers at home, and the rest is focused on Covid-19 stuff, more & more is being automated, further reducing accountability.
3) Big data companies (e.g. Palantir) are moving into public sector infrastructures, providing data-analytics services. Not only do they gain access to vast amounts of data, but their logic of differential treatment (rather than universal service) will become even more dominant.
Read 4 tweets

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