Underlinings (#38)

This near-future sleep addiction tale has been getting around:

The technique that instantly dumped the brain into REM sleep was developed with an eye to military application. … […] It saved the nascent lucid-dreaming device business, then suffering slews of returns and one-star reviews from people who spent real money on headbands that they had to wear all night in the hope of reaching REM sleep. A class spread across generations that didn’t get enough sleep anyway, whose brains were blitzed by blue light and believed eight uninterrupted hours in bed was either a historical artifact or the first sign of a brain tumour.

Some background speculative socio-political concern. (The capitalist war on sleep is advancing into a frontier zone where all manner of strange thing can be expected to turn up.)

Hail Amazon (#3)

In the NYT:

The company’s winners dream up innovations that they roll out to a quarter-billion customers and accrue small fortunes in soaring stock. Losers leave or are fired in annual cullings of the staff — “purposeful Darwinism,” one former Amazon human resources director said.

Vice comments:

Matt Yglesias argues at Vox that Amazon’s work culture is so relentless because it’s a “startup that never grew up,” but Silicon Valley is exporting that startup culture to companies desperate for modernization, everywhere. So 24/7 digital communications, big data, and a veneer of world-changingness — the implements of torture for Amazon employees — are increasingly commonplace. Amazon, in other words, is not some dystopian outlier. It’s the new normal. It’s just a little more frank about its goals and intentions.

Touchy-feely PR statements are no doubt on the way.

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Underlinings (#19)

Ted Kaczynski (the ‘Unabomber’, interviewed in the John Jay Sentinel):

… an antitechnological movement that focused on the elimination of capitalism would expend vast energy in return for ve[r]y little gain. What is worse, by focusing on capitalism the movement would distract its own and other people’s attention from the real objective, which is to get rid of modern technology itself. […] Furthermore, people would obstinately resist the loss of economic efficiency entailed by the replacement of capitalism with socialism. And even if you could somehow replace capitalism with socialism, capitalism would soon reappear and become dominant because it is economically and technologically more vigorous than socialism. This again is guaranteed by the principle of natural selection (Technological Slavery, pages 280-85) and is confirmed by experience: When the socialist countries of eastern Europe couldn’t keep up with the West economically or technologically, they reverted to capitalism. Sweden once was ideologically socialist, but in practical terms socialism never actually got very far in that country, and Sweden today is still capitalist. While remaining nominally socialist, China for the sake of economic growth now allows a good deal of private enterprise (i.e., capitalism) in its economy. Venezuela’s dictator, Hugo Chavez, talks about socialism, but in practice he leaves most of the country’s economy in the hands of private enterprise because he doesn’t want the drastic decline in economic efficiency that would result from the elimination of capitalism. I know of only two countries left in the world that are left of capitalism: Cuba and North Korea. No one wants to imitate Cuba and North Korea, because they are (from a materialistic point of view) economic failures. […] So, as long as we live in a technological world, there’s no way we will get rid of capitalism unless and until it is superseded by some system that is economically and technologically more efficient. …

Underlinings (#2)

Natasha Dow Schüll in the Casino (p.217):

The gambling industry invests a great deal of resources and creative energy into the project of helping gamblers to ‘lose’ themselves — experientially and financially. Slot designers’ goal is to build machines that can extract maximum ‘revenue per available customer’, or revpac, and of this all-consuming objective they talk freely and explicitly among themselves — on conference panels, in journals, and in the aisles and meeting lounges of exposition floors. How to get people to gamble longer, faster, and more intensively? How to turn casual players into repeat players? How, in other words, to design the zone?