'Corporations are Robots': David Runciman on AI, states, robots and the first singularity
The Anti-Dystopians is back from our break with a very exciting guest, David Runciman! David is a professor of politics at the University of Cambridge, the host of the critically acclaimed podcast Talking Politics—and he also happens to be my PhD supervisor… We talked about why corporations are a kind of robot, how singularity might have already come about and why we should think seriously about the political philosophy of Silicon Valley.
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Further reading from the episode:
Silicon Valley’s Vampire: David Runciman on Peter Thiel
‘I read Dominic Cummings blog so you don’t have to’: David Runciman on Dominic Cummings
Elon Musk and sea turtles
The dangerous ideas of longtermism
A long-read in the FT about how the US shut down Facebook’s crypto-currency
The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 by David Edgerton
Tweet(s) of the week
What I’ve been reading
Elon Musk has become Twitter’s largest shareholder (and, as the good people of Twitter pointed out, thus the largest shareholder of the network that drives Tesla’s stock prices . . .). Can companies ban their largest shareholder from their platform, I wonder? 🤔
Speaking of which, does anyone have an updated figure on how much money Elon Musk’s companies have gotten from government subsidies/grants/tax breaks? Last I have is 4.9 billion in 2015…
On how big tech infrastructure can be used during war, Google disables Maps traffic data in Ukraine
A really excellent long-read on Putin’s anti-gay war in Ukraine in the Boston Review (and a good complement to Judith Butler’s article on the anti-trans discourse and the relationship between the far-right and fascism in the West)
The incomparable Abbas Milani on the “new international of authoritarianism” and why "you can't pick the human rights you suddenly care about” (featuring thoughts on McKinsey’s involvement in Saudi Arabia)
A REALLY excellent long read on how Google billionaire Eric Schmidt’s fingers are all over the Biden administration . . .
Interesting story about an Airbnb suit by a couple whose host recorded them without their knowledge, and how Airbnb’s terms essentially require the dispute to be settled by an arbitrator
Incredible long-read in The New Yorker about how an Ivy League school (and the Rhodes Scholarship) turned against a student. Very important for those connected to elite institutions and scholarships, and how they profit from and police the “suffering” of their applicants.
After the notebooks of Charles Darwin went missing (worth millions of pounds !!) and a worldwide appeal, someone left them in a pink gift bag outside the Cambridge University Library. Someone, please—the historian in me is begging for the tv adaptation of this story to be made!
PS - PSA
If you’re an academic heading to PSA, please do give me a shout!