Tentacle Surge


It’s happening:

… since the 1960s, cephalopods numbers have been increasing. […] There had been anecdotal murmurs about such an upward trend before, but [Zoe] Doubleday’s data threw it into stark relief. The rise was obvious when the team analyzed data from both fisheries and other sources. It was there in both northern and southern hemispheres. It applied to species that stick to the same patch of ocean ocean floor, those that swim in the water layer just above the bottom, and those that patrol large stretches of open ocean. And it applied to every major group of cephalopod: For the most part, cuttlefish are doing well, squid are on the up, and octopuses are ascendant. […] “You wouldn’t have expected to see the same trend across these different groups,” says [Bronwyn] Gillanders. “It does potentially suggest that a large-scale, global phenomenon is affecting all of them.”

Underlinings (#50)

On the evanescence of Cyberpunk prophecy:

One notable departure from previous blockbuster dystopias like Logan’s Run (1976) was the fact that this [Blade Runner] future had a very visible past and had not been built from scratch. Existing buildings of Los Angeles were incorporated; the police headquarters is Union Station, the eerie stairwell courtyard is inside the Bradbury Building, Deckard’s apartment is in Frank Lloyd Wright’s neo-Mayan Ennis Brown House. It was all contained in a city that Ridley Scott revealed was indebted to contemporary Hong Kong. The colossal, recurring geisha girl on the electronic billboard is significant not for what she is advertising (the pill, as it happens) or even the echo of the decadent “Floating World” of Tokyo legend but for the implication that the future is both otherworldly and compromised. We can speculate on whether an orientalized U.S. West Coast represents the subconscious fear of the end of American exceptionalism, latent memories of having once been a colony, or fears that the Greater Japanese Empire was not entirely buried in 1945. In fact, the dread of being usurped by the Eastern nations was well-placed — a prescient indication that the world’s axis was shifting from mid-Atlantic to mid-Pacific. Asia was the future, and this is what it would look like. For a while, perhaps even still, it held true. The question is: which Asia? South Korean Smart City futurism? Colossal Chinese ghost cities? Drowning the sorrows of a 20-year deflationary recession in Tokyo’s Shinjuku? …


Expect more of this:

The man police say shot and killed six people in Kalamazoo, Mich., last month told officers that he was being controlled by the Uber app on his phone at the time of the rampage, according to authorities. […] … Dalton told detectives that he believed the Uber app controlled him, and said he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination earlier in the interview to avoid coming across as a crazy person, Moorian wrote. The accused gunman went on to tell police that a symbol appeared — a devil-like image with horns — and said it would give him an assignment that he would follow while seeing himself from outside of his body, Moorian wrote. […] He went on to tell detectives “about the Masons and the Eastern Star symbol” that he said popped up on the phone, but what he said “didn’t make any sense,” Moorian added. In an interview with another detective, Dalton said when he saw the Uber app shift from a red color to black, that is when he would get taken over “like a puppet.”

Asymmetric War

I guess there has to be a lot of this kind of thing going on (and more all the time):

She was researching viruses, hoping to identify a fatal one that would attack males only. She said that once males were eradicated, she planned to introduce chemical reproduction without sperm. Furthermore, women would no longer carry the fetus; rather, the process would take place in the laboratory. She chatted about this idea as if she were discussing the weather.

(Given that a Y-chromosome targeting system would select only males, while an X-chromosome version would be sex indiscriminate, there’s a definite implicit genius to the idea. Waiting for the aftermath of the androcide before getting down to serious work on a post-sexual reproduction system is seriously hardcore.)

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Smarm Singularity

Its contour already visible:

Lately Facebook is getting a little too intimate with me. “Good morning, Leigh,” it coos. “Thanks for being here. We hope you enjoy Facebook today.” Then, like a slice of dystopian cafeteria lunch, it serves one of its abysmal “memories” into my feed, some forgotten years-old share, and when I tell it I don’t want to see that, Facebook scrapes apologetically: “We know we don’t always get it right.” […] No, Facebook, of course you don’t. Remember how you started serving me wedding ads when I’d only just told one or two people I was engaged? That was creepy. Facebook is absolutely, indisputably creepy, a fungal colony of privacy violations fused helplessly to our human infrastructure. It spies on its employees and it demands pictures of our ID so it can regulate our names. […] Everybody knows Facebook is creepy. Nonetheless, all this time it never occurred to me to delete my account until it began doing this: Trying to act like a person. Pretending we are on a first-name basis. […] We often imagine the inevitable future tech dystopia will be cold, populations marching under the eye of sterile robot overlords, our speech monitored and scrubbed of sentiment and intonation. Increasingly, though, it seems like we’re hurtling toward the opposite: A singularity of smarm, where performative — maybe even excessive — intimacy is the order of the day. […] Of course we don’t want creeper spy colony Facebook to be our friend. But creating the impression of intimacy is becoming increasingly crucial to the content economy today, and it’s happening everywhere. …

(Coldness be my God.)