Category Archives: dystopia

Future romance: how science fiction is predicting our relationships

The contemplative indie Marjorie Prime is the latest in a long line of sci-fi films and TV shows that explore how we might date and love in the future

AI is the perfect sounding board for these modern anxieties about human connection, and 20th- and 21st-century films are filled with dystopian landscapes that showcase the loneliness of a world where intimacy is something you can buy. Read more (The Guardian)

Climate crisis: our children face wars over food and water, EU deputy warns

Older people will have to make sacrifices in the fight against climate change or today’s children will face a future of fighting wars for water and food, the EU’s deputy chief has warned.

Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the EU commission, said that if social policy and climate policy are not combined, to share fairly the costs and benefits of creating a low-carbon economy, the world will face a backlash from people who fear losing jobs or income, stoked by populist politicians and fossil fuel interests. Read more (Guardian)

Pandemic got you down? Psychologists suggest time travel — sort of.

Right now, you may find many things upsetting: You might be Zoomed out, missing your friends or mourning lost loved ones. “You’re really in the moment,” says Anne Wilson, a psychology professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario. “You’re living whatever’s negative and distressing.”

Temporal distancing is a way to “step outside of the unpleasant, immersed moment,” she says. To do this, imagine yourself in a later moment in time. A year from now, for example, we probably won’t still be living through the pandemic. By then, it will be mostly behind us, though much about society will have changed, and you’ll have a different perspective about it than you do now. “Thinking about ways things can get better — and that things will change, you will grow, you will learn from something that’s even unpleasant — can often give you a sense of optimism and hope,” Wilson says. Read more (Washington Post)

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

We rushed to the internet expecting empowerment, the democratization of knowledge, and help with real problems, but surveillance capitalism really was just too lucrative to resist. This economic logic has now spread beyond the tech companies to new surveillance–based ecosystems in virtually every economic sector, from insurance to automobiles to health, education, finance, to every product described as “smart” and every service described as “personalized.” Read more (Harvard Gazette)

Protopia Futures

Protopia disputes the dystopian and utopian visions of the future which currently form unproductive and finite binaries that distract us from acting now. Instead, Protopia Futures is a continuous proactive prototyping of possible futures, as Monika Bielskyte puts it, and one that pushes back on restrictive narratives of futures imagined by a privileged group of people.  Read more (Medium)

The Rise of the Private City-State: In Nevada desert, a technology firm aims to be a government

He wants Nevada to change its laws to allow “innovation zones,” where companies would have powers like those of a county government, including creating court systems, imposing taxes and building infrastructure while making land and water management decisions. The prospect has been met with intrigue and skepticism from Nevada lawmakers, though the legislation has yet to be formally filed or discussed in public hearings. Most in the Democratic-controlled Legislature are eager to diversify Nevada’s tourism-dependent economy, but many fear backlash against business incentives as they struggle to fund health care and education. Read more (Las Vegas Sun)

China is home to a growing market for dubious “emotion recognition” technology

Emotion recognition technology is based upon a fundamentally flawed idea: that an algorithm can analyze a person’s facial expressions and accurately infer their inner state or mood. In reality, when a person experiences emotions like joy, worry, or disgust, studies have found that they don’t necessarily respond by reacting in consistent, universal ways. While many people may frown if they feel sad, that reaction is also dependent on factors such as culture and the situation and moment. Read more (restofworld.org)

The Secret History of Facial Recognition

Today, facial recognition has become a security feature of choice for phones, laptops, passports, and payment apps. It promises to revolutionize the business of targeted advertising and speed the diagnosis of certain illnesses. It makes tagging friends on Instagram a breeze. Yet it is also, increasingly, a tool of state oppression and corporate surveillance.  Read more (Wired)