William Gibsons Technopolitics

William Gibsons Technopolitics

Amazon's new series Peripherals premieres this weekend , a stylish sci-fi thriller based on the HBO hit Westworld but with a little more resilience for those serious about the future.

Peripheral is an adaptation of the 2014 best-selling novel of the same name by William Gibson, the author best known for coining the term "cyberspace" in 1982. . Like a seer

In the big tech world right now, sci-fi isn't just a distraction, it can be a living force. Mark Zuckerberg renamed his entire company after a word coined by writer Neil Stephenson . Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos' sci-fi obsession is well documented.

Gibson is a little different from other speculative writers. In an interview with The New Yorker in 2019, he described his creative process as a kind of cutting-edge technique: observing the trends of the present and consciously looking to the future. He once told PC Magazine , "He was never very interested in computers. I don't watch them, I watch how people behave around them. It becomes harder to do because everyone is around them.”

This method appears in both the book and the Peripherals series. As in this newsletter, Gibson's work intersects with technology and management, creating the rules that govern our daily lives.

But Gibson came from the other side of tech journalism or even entrepreneurship. Politicians and business leaders think they write the rules. Gibson's Future clearly shows that technology also writes its own rules that everyone else lives by.

Without going into any plot or spoilers, suffice it to say that The Peripheral offers a rather unsettling glimpse into how various trends - virtual reality, immersive gaming, quantum computing and growing social stratification - will shape the future construct that nobody really asked. .

It's not exactly dystopian. It's lonelier...empty.

Many political observers took a keen interest in Gibson after The Peripheral , and not just because his agitated and liberal policies suited theirs so well. (Her very active Twitter feed is full of agitprop, and she places her next novel in an alternate timeline where Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election.)

The world inhabited by the series' characters is very similar to "Trump Country," which Gibson rendered with amazing accuracy before it became a political concept. This gives the series an interesting non-sci-fi appeal: its heroes include professional Appalachian gamers, while its villains are the world's cosmopolitan elite. The future portrayed in Periphery, in which the whole of mainstream society (and pretty much nature) is simply wiped out because technology is turning the wheels anyway, is a disturbing and not entirely unknown social and political vision. layering

Gibson's vision of a slow apocalypse brought on by climate change, political unrest, and a pandemic (brought about in 2014) may sound uncomfortably familiar, but it won't be as jarring. However, given his experience and the dogged tenacity with which science fiction inspires and reflects real-life technological advances, it's worth pondering what he says about where technology is actually taking us.

Try the cryptocurrency lobby

Crypto has spent big bucks in Washington in recent years , hiring several high-profile individuals as part of the industry's push for kinder regulation.

Now some prominent Democrats are flagging it as a potential new revolving door in the capital.

A group of senators, including Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), asked key regulators to explain what they are doing to eliminate . Such is the case in a group letter sent out yesterday, citing a report by the Tech Transparency Project and warning that “crypto firms have hired hundreds of former government officials” to advocate for them, which could lead to a similar regulatory takeover. defined risk guidelines. The advocacy of "powerful Wall Street interests" in the pharmaceutical industry has drawn criticism from the industry.

Of course, this largely ties cryptocurrencies to other established American industries and not quite the image that revolutionaries in the field are trying to cultivate.

Bite off an apple

On Monday , Apple announced that it will begin allowing purchases of NFTs through apps sold on the App Store. That's an absolute win for cryptocurrencies, right?

It's a little harder. By distributing it through the App Store, Apple introduces a whole layer of fully non-cryptographic functionality to NFT sales. It's true that now, like any transaction that takes place under the auspices of the App Store, they are subject to a ridiculous fee. Also, you cannot use cryptocurrencies to pay For them, since Apple doesn't support crypto payments.

Our sister site's log suggests that the biggest impact of the rule change is actually pushing NFT developers away from the Apple platform: "While NFTs are becoming more common in iOS apps, some developers may choose to keep them in web browsers." said Tomio Geron TODAY. wrote, "Or they could restrict their iOS apps to avoid app store fees, which account for 30% of transactions." This is another example of the unpredictable and sometimes unfortunate impact of already veteran tech giant Apple trying to integrate with rebellious technologies like Web3.

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Yasmine Williams: Tiny Desk Concert (at home).

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