Hope you had a happy new year, and welcome to 2022! (No, it’s not a dystopic novel about our tech future, that really is the date . . .)
There’s quite a number of new subscribers after a little viral tweet about Amazon Alexa being creepy, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce myself again.
I’m Alina Utrata, a PhD candidate at Cambridge University where I study historic and contemporary technology corporations and their relationship to the state. The Anti-Dystopians is a podcast and newsletter hosted and produced by me about the politics of technology, featuring discussions of tech billionaires’ plans to colonize outer space, Biden’s relationship with Big Tech, whether we should nationalize Gmail, and more!
If you want a guide to getting started, be sure to check out the Welcome page for a list of all our episodes and topics. And, of course, don’t forget to follow the Anti-Dystopians on Twitter @AntiDystopians or me @AlinaUtrata.
To kick off the new year, I spoke with Stefanie Felsberger and Muskan Shafat in our most recent episode about gender, technology and systems of oppression. We discuss the myth of “neutral” tech, how technology is embedded within systems of oppression, why using a dishwasher isn’t considered technological innovation, and AI for eugenics. Be sure to take a listen!
If you want to subscribe to the Anti-Dystopians podcast directly, you can do so here or here (Spotify) or here (Apple Podcasts). Please rate, review and share the Anti-Dystopians to help us get new listeners. If you want to support the production of the show, you can visit here.
Further reading from the episode
Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin
Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Noble
Programmed Inequality by Mar Hicks
Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neill
What Tech Calls Thinking by Adrian Daub
What I’ve been doing
Xiaowei Wang, the author of one of the best books on tech Blockchain Chicken Farm, came to Cambridge’s Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, and I got to ask them all about tech in China’s countryside. Be sure to check it out!
What I’ve been reading
The four tech giants increasingly dominate the internet’s critical cable infrastructure. Good article to pair with this one by Ingrid Burrington about The Infrastructural Power Beneath the Internet as We Know It—or the Anti-Dystopians episode with Dr. Corinne Cath-Speth about Human Rights and Internet Infrastructure (podcast).
When China banned crypto mining, many miners went to states with cheap electricity grids and syphoned off their energy for their own profit. Wired reports “As Kazakhstan Descends Into Chaos, Crypto Miners Are at a Loss”. By the way, did you know:Some statistics to start the year: During 2021 Bitcoin consumed 134 TWh in total, which is comparable to the electrical energy consumed by a country like Argentina. Related CO2 emissions were ~64 Mt; enough to negate the entire global net savings from deploying EVs.
Is any kind of blockchain feasible if we want to avoid climate catastrophe?
Long read about the Peter Thiel network at Cambridge University, and how it ended up inviting Jordan Peterson to campus. And don’t forget to take a listen to our episode with Andrew Granato about Peter Thiel (podcast).
Many of you may be here because of a tweet about Amazon Alexa’s data practices . . . Well, Wired magazine had the original scoop with the article Amazon's Dark Secret: It Has Failed to Protect Your Data, along with the Reuters long read “Amazon wages secret war on Americans' privacy, documents show.” Or you can download all the data Amazon has on you yourself here.
Next week’s episode will be all about Amazon, so be sure to keep an eye out!