BITES // 11.01.18

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.

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1. CG-INFLUENCERS ARE COMING FOR YOUR JOB

Lil Miquela, a computer-generated fashion influencer, is now a contributing editor at Dazed. She was nominally chosen for being “a musician and activist on the side of her modeling work.” Aside from the obvious, her appointment raises questions about what happens when technology obscures not just the human behind the tech, but the other humans that it replaces.

2. MICROCHIPPING THE MASSES

The Swedes are doing it! They’re going full Black Mirror! It was always going to happen; chips that scan as credit cards, key fobs, and IDs were always going to make the jump from our phones to human flesh. And it’s finally getting traction in Sweden, where thousands have made the choice to implant microchips into their hands. Who’s next?

3. THUMBS DOWN FOR DEPRESSION 

Would you use an app that can tell when you’re depressed, even when you can’t? Three app developers are attempting to turn your phone into a 24/7 psych eval by tracking not what you look at on your phone, but how you look at it. If it succeeds, the nature of mobile data collection and analysis could change completely, and so could healthcare.

4. YOU’LL LIVE FOREVER 

Everyone knows to watch what they put online, because who knows when your aunt is going to suddenly get savvy and find your Twitter account? But as machine learning gets more and more sophisticated, some people are seeing our online data as a blueprint for reconstructing people’s consciousnesses way, way after the fact. Is who you are online the chatbot you want to be after death?

5. DEUS EX BANANA 

This is what happens when one crop becomes a staple—any bug or drought becomes an existential threat to the food itself. This is how we’ve arrived at the present moment, staring down the barrel at the end of the beloved banana. But there may be hope. By using gene editing, we can save not just the banana, but all kinds of endangered species. That is, if we get comfortable playing God.

6. ANYTHING YOU CAN DO, AI CAN DO BETTER

Christie’s isn’t just an institution in the world of art dealing, it’s the institution. The greatest artists of all time have passed through its halls, as have some of the biggest single sales in art history. And now it’s selling its first painting done by an AI, raising questions about what an artist is—a person with a paintbrush? A group of coders? Or a bundle of code? And what kind of precedent is Christie’s starting by selling the question in their auction house?

7. THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE INTERNET AGE

Gizmodo is a publication about the internet and fashioned entirely of it; its writers are aficionados and digital natives. That’s what makes this list of the top 100 sites that shaped the internet so good. It’s not just a list of the most famous, or successful sites, but a real user’s take on what left an impact.

8. DON’T DO IT FOR THE ‘GRAM

This great little piece of anthropology unspools the complicated effect that Gym Selfies—a very particular strain of selfie featuring a floor length mirror, your fanciest workout clothes, and its own lexicon—is having on American fitness and health ideals. And it’s not quite the optimistic, can-do outlook its practitioners might be hoping for.


TAKEAWAY: This month we’re thinking about the impressions that we leave behind. Not the footprints, or the yearbooks, or the friendships, but the online data. What legacy are we building when we post or scroll? And what consequences do those posts have when they’re found by someone else, whether it’s tomorrow, next year, or decades down the line? Better start planning now.

MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM

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BITES // 09.06.18