Week 41

October 2022


Both the TwitchCon convention and Paris fashion week had an unexpected crossover into the world of wrestling last week. At the heart of wrestling is the notion of ‘Kayfabe’ which is, to oversimplify it, a shared suspension of disbelief. Creator economy Kayfabe then, is the belief that the twitch personalities on screens, or the outrageous gowns on the runway, are ‘real.’ The Twitch case is particularly interesting in this regard. A streamer broke her back at a promotional stand where numerous other streamers were also injured. It appeared from recordings of the fall that support staff and viewers initially thought the injury were Kayfabe, that the woman was actually fine. LINK


What would a decentralised internet look like in a real world, practical scenario? The ingenuity of Iranian protesters offers a glimpse. Ostensibly, all of Iran’s online infrastructure is in the hands of the oppressive regime, something the regime has often used to stifle dissent via rolling internet blackouts. Yet they can’t seem to fully cut the savvy protesters off this time. The protesters are using novel techniques such as setting up special Tor network nodes and coordinating with allies outside of Iran to open new holes whenever the regime closes old ones. LINK


Google just released a smartwatch alongside its new Pixel phone. This is interesting because of the circumstances that both Google and the wider smartphone market find themselves in. Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone market, yet I believe both have shifted focus to smartwatches. I believe they have done this because smartwatches are already useful when coupled with phones, but they can also be coupled with new tech such as Augmented Reality (AR) glasses. Aside from the highly popular and lucrative health and safety features of smartwatches, further utility remains to be unlocked, such as potential integration with the newly released smart home standard I discuss later in the newsletter. LINK


Tipping has traditionally been sold to customers as a way to show appreciation for the quality of service provided by personnel in the hospitality sector. Yet post-pandemic we’ve all gotten more used to cashless, contactless payments, more often than not via touchscreens without another human being in sight. Dubbed ‘tipflation’ the gradual increase in the number, and costs, of products and services trying to get customers to tip them is raising many complex questions. For example, if tips are an expression of gratitude for quality service by a human, what about self-service? Another example would be if companies should be allowed to goad or force customers into tipping. LINK


One of the biggest things that’s been holding back the Internet of Things (IoT) is that the various developers of so called ‘smart home’ devices refused to open up their ecosystems to one another. IoT, simply put, is connecting devices and appliances to the internet so you can control them remotely. For customers this lack of cooperation between manufacturers meant squinting at the specifications of each and every prospective purchase in the hopes that it would play nice with the rest of the smart home. Last week a new smart home standard called ‘matter’ was released, which has the backing of just about all the major players in the IoT space. This could drastically improve IoT adoption and utility if each manufacturer adheres to it properly.


The question of who is to blame when Artificial Intelligence (AI) causes harm continues to occupy the thoughts of developers and regulators alike. New Regulations that will come into effect in roughly two years will put the onus on the developers of AI systems to guarantee the safety and ethical boundaries of their creations. Since the regulations are still in the draft stage at present, large tech companies are trying to have them amended for fear of the impact on their algorithmically powered services, one example being full legal liability for harm done to minors LINK


Two of the highest profile games to be released this year by embattled publisher Activision Blizzard are releasing with a controversial new entry requirement, SMS verification. SMS verification itself isn’t new, but its implementation for both Overwatch 2, and the upcoming Call of Duty is the first encounter many players have had with ‘phone poverty.’ Phone poverty is when someone either can’t afford a smart phone or a conventional smartphone contract, thereby locking them out of vital services that can only be accessed via said smartphone. In this case new players with certain low-income friendly prepaid numbers won’t be able to play these games, a dangerous new precedent. LINK


A new experimental car appears to be doing Co2 emission in reverse. The car absorbs carbon dioxide (Co2) from the air as it drives. It reminds me of how plants draw and purify Co2 from the air, which would radically recontextualise what a ‘car plant’ could refer to. This present prototype is roughly the equivalent of 1/10th of a tree in terms of air purifying effectiveness. But imagine more efficient production ready models, or even just a large number of these cars out on the roads instead of conventionally polluting cars. LINK

Bird Law LINK
Floating Farms LINK
AI Upscaling LINK
Synthetic Silk LINK
AI Newsroom LINK
Parrot Piracy LINK
BBC Archive LINK
Tickle Tickle LINK
Blazing Fast! LINK


Did you notice that I spelt ‘TikTok’ as ‘TicToc’ in last week’s “Lights, AI, Action” item? I thought it’d be funny considering the joke was about paying attention. I really enjoy meta humour like that, what about you? I’d love to hear about the kinds of humour you enjoy. You’ll also notice that this week, I decided to change the layout of the newsletter. I had to change the aspect ratio for the images for this new format, so rather than making a new image to match each individual item, I opted to have one image per category instead. I’m interested in seeing what this change in imagery does with the overall flow of the newsletter.
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