BITES // 05.02.19

Every month we collect eight of the best pieces of content published on the web and share them with you, because we believe that the most extraordinary thinking is inspired by looking to unexpected places. BITES is a reading list for those who want to bring a little of the outside, in.

Want to get BITES in your inbox? Subscribe here.

1. FACEBOOK OWES YOU MONEY

We’re all digital laborers and our bosses aren’t paying us. Today, a small number of tech giants have grown exceedingly powerful and control most of our media. And like exploitative companies before them, they’ve garnered much of their power through cheap, or entirely free, labor. In our case, each time we post, comment, like, search, or review, we’re helping Big Tech make a profit. A rising movement believes it’s time for us to unionize and demand that we start getting paid for our online activity.

2. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RESISTANCE

A growing number of us, particularly those working in tech, have fervently (or inadvertently) assimilated into the “cult of Singularity,” the idea that AI will (and should) surpass human intelligence in order to solve the world’s most inconceivably complex problems. But the belief that AI will save the world reinforces the demand for exponential growth, which, in turn, fuels our most existential threats, like climate change. The goals of AI and unlimited growth are contrary to our evolutionary goals, “where flourishing is a measure of vigour and health rather than scale, money or power.” Rather than relinquishing our hopes, and, ultimately, our power to the artificial intelligence gods, this author believes it’s due time we awake from our singularity dream and embrace the notion of extended intelligence instead.

3. YOUR EMPLOYER OWNS YOU

If you’re reading this, you probably work for a whimsically progressive company that offers sweet perks like full-time baristas, free gym memberships, and office rock-climbing walls. While these benefits may seem great on the surface, your employer has likely factored in these costs as the price for your captivity. “It turns out there is a rich history of employer experimentation with benefits as a behavior-modification device.” Don’t get me wrong, nap pods sound amazing! But they seem less exciting when you remember that you have your own bed at home.

4. PLAYBACK CHANGES OUR MEMORIES

Think back to your fondest childhood memories–maybe your first theatrical performance, little league game, or just an amazing family get-together. The memory may be hazy, but you remember it as you experienced it: from a first-person point of view. That is, unless, there’s video. With today’s devices, we can playback footage of ourselves and gain an entirely new point of view: one from the observer’s perspective. But particularly in children, the immediacy of this playback has incredible powers of reshaping the actual memories of the event. As this author explains, “the immediate playback of a moment, a milestone or even our dinner plates has the potential to rob our moments of their ephemeral power.

5. THE PARANOIA ECONOMY

Influencers have existed long before Instagram. They can even be found in much of Shakespeare’s work, where, even back then, the role of influence was often met with a healthy dose of skepticism. Ultimately, influence is a challenge to our personal beliefs, which can sometimes be positive and inspiring. But as this author argues, today’s influence economy is making us increasingly suspicious about ideas that are not our own.

6. EVOLUTIONARY SPIRITUALITY

What, if anything, sets humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom? Is it our religious beliefs, our rituals, or our capacity for complex emotions like empathy? Religion offers insight into many of the ways that humans think we’re different since it developed with no obvious evolutionary purpose. In this in-depth exploration of the relationship between evolution and religion, the author postulates that “evolution didn’t ‘aim’ at religion; religion just emerged as evolution ‘aimed’ at other things.

7. THE JOY OF DOING SOMETHING AGAIN

Scouring Netflix trying to find a movie to watch? You will almost certainly skip over anything you’ve already seen (or you’ll just end up watching The Office for the millionth time). Searching for a captivating book to read? No point in reading one you’ve already read, right? What about booking your next vacation spot? Last year’s spot probably not even in your consideration set (been there, done that). It’s no surprise that we tend to place a higher value on, and therefore, prioritize new experiences; but new research finds that “revisiting the familiar can offer unexpected pleasures.

8. TAKING ON THE TECH TITANS

For the last year, investigative journalist, Carole Cadwalladr has been “probing a darkness at the heart of Silicon Valley.” In this implicative Ted Talk, she calls out the seemingly untouchable tech gods on their own turf. Infiltrating theTed format (arguably the mecca of Big Tech), Cadwalladr names names and dishes out candid criticism of the world these leaders are building (or destroying).


TAKEAWAY:

Corporations, tech companies, and influencers have more power than ever in this digital age; but we, the people, have significantly more power than we realize. Our challenge is to consider the role that power and influence play in our own lives. Who and what do you allow to occupy your individual sovereignty?

MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM

BITES // 04.04.19

BITES // 04.04.19

BITES // 03.07.19

BITES // 03.07.19