The Road to Nowhere
Paris Marx on the automobile, Silicon Valley and the future of transportation
I am so excited for the latest episode of the Anti-Dystopians because I finally get to talk to Paris Marx, the host of the excellent podcast Tech Won’t Save Us, about their new book, “Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation.”
We discuss the history of the automobile industry in North America, why Tesla is not a “green company,” whether Silicon Valley is lying to you about the self-driving car (spoiler alert: they are), and their vision for the future of public transport.
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You can follow Paris on Twitter @parismarx and the Tech Won't Save Us podcast at @techwontsaveus.
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Further reading from the episode:
Pre-order Paris’s book “Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation”
“Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars” by James Wilt
“Inside Elon Musk's underground loop tunnels in Las Vegas” with the incredible line “oh right, it’s like a subway”
And the infamous photo of an effigy of a woman on a bike at a protest in 1897 by Cambridge men about the preposterous idea that women might be granted degrees by the university
What I’ve been reading
There have been a plethora of articles pointing out that the data tech companies store can and will be used in abortion prosecutions in the US (and not just period-tracking apps, but primarily search history and texts), so here is just a smattering of them: Online Abortion Pill Provider Hey Jane Used Tracking Tools That Sent Visitor Data to Meta, Google, and Others. The #1 Period Tracker on the App Store Will Hand Over Data Without a Warrant (it also uses astrology to “sync your cycle with the universe” and also the carceral state, apparently.). Are You Ready to Be Surveilled Like a Sex Worker?
Also, journalists have found that Instagram and Facebook are already banning posts about mailing abortion pills (but not, interestingly, taking down ads for guns with anything near the speed or rigor. Curious.)
Speaking of censorship . . .
If you’ve been bombarded with images from the the AI image generator DALL-E online, then this article from Rest of World may be extremely interesting: DALL·E mini blank searches produce images of women in saris
“Marés, a veteran hacktivist, began using DALL·E mini in early June. But instead of inputting text for a specific request, he tried something different: he left the field blank. Fascinated by the seemingly random results, Marés ran the blank search over and over. That’s when Marés noticed something odd: almost every time he ran a blank request, DALL·E mini generated portraits of brown-skinned women wearing saris, a type of attire common in South Asia.”
In more tech companies up to their usual tricks, Amazon will mimic people’s voices through Alexa’s speakers — and are specifically marketing this as a way that dead grandparents’ voices can still read bedtime stories to their grandkids . . . you know what George Orwell famously said, “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command… wait, Grandma? Is that really you???”
Also, Google Allowed a Sanctioned Russian Ad Company to Harvest User Data for Months.
And in more campus news, Gonville & Caius College slavery researcher quits after fellows try to silence damning report about the college’s involvement with slavery and university staff who can’t afford to eat ask for campus food banks
Tweet(s) of the week
If you haven’t seen Mick Lynch, secretary-general of the RMT (rail workers union striking in the UK), on tv yet, I can assure you it is glorious
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