Digital Sovereignty

Even skeptics (such as this blog) can note the importance of the discussion initiated here:

Soviet Union had cinema, the PRC has the Internet.

I personally think that the international audience still largely underestimate the importance of what China has achieved policy-wise for the global landscape of Internet. Concepts like “digital sovereignty” that were proposed by China are now emerging from post-Snowden discussions in proposals at the highest levels in EU countries. Russia has already embraced it. Of course, the US industry still need the myth of a “global village” to push products worldwide. Still, I am curious to see how it evolves as the ad market will continue to shrink, and as foreign relationships with the US are likely to get less friendly in the next years. While EU and other countries (esp in Africa and South America) start realizing that the US-first model of the Internet is too much a disadvantage for them, the only other real-world case they can turn to is China. In many regards, China looks like the future of the Internet. …

It’s tempting for Westerners (and especially Anglos) to see Chinese government Internet policy as simply backward. That’s almost certainly an inadequate framework for making sense of the most explosive Web-growth in the world.

Among other developments, there’s this:

Chinois-shopper

Quotable (#175)

Stephen M. Walt on ‘The Collapse of the Liberal World Order’:

As you’ve probably noticed, the heady optimism of the 1990s has given way to a growing sense of pessimism — even alarm — about the existing liberal order. The New York Times’s Roger Cohen, a thoughtful and committed liberal, believes that “the forces of disintegration are on the march” and “the foundations of the postwar world … are trembling.”

(UF emphasis.)

Twitter cuts (#122)

This is what the rancorous Brexit controversy — and catabolic geopolitics in general — looks like when the option between integrative connection and disintegrative disconnection is elaborated, without reference to the diagonal line (of connective disintegration).

Zizek is worth referencing on the same conundrum.

Quotable (#174)

Why gun control (in the USA) is an insoluble problem:

On average, Democrats (that’s my team*) use guns for shooting the innocent. We call that crime. […] On average, Republicans use guns for sporting purposes and self-defense. … So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.” … If Republicans think they need guns to protect against Democrats, that’s their reality. And if Democrats believe guns make the world more dangerous for themselves, that is their reality. And they can both be right. Your risk profile is different from mine. […] So let’s stop acting as if there is something like “common sense” gun control to be had if we all act reasonably. That’s not an option in this case because we all have different risk profiles when it comes to guns. My gun probably makes me safer, but perhaps yours makes you less safe. You can’t reconcile those interests. […] Our situation in the United States is that people with different risk profiles are voting for their self-interests as they see it. There is no compromise to be had in this situation unless you brainwash one side or the other to see their self-interest differently. And I don’t see anyone with persuasion skills trying to do that on either side. …

Quotable (#173)

The integrationist protection racket:

No matter the outcome of this week’s British referendum on whether to leave the European Union, the damage is already done. The Brexit campaign has given British citizens an eyeful of the globalist agenda, and they have now witnessed the extent to which defenders of that agenda will go to keep Brits in line through fear and threats. […] The “remain” camp’s message hasn’t been that things are going too wonderfully to warrant a change. That would be a tough sell to people who feel that things are pretty lousy right now. Instead, the “pro-Europe” message is that things could potentially get even worse. It’s basic psychology: People tend to be more motivated by the fear of losing what little they have than by the prospect of gaining something they don’t have. Thus, those who have been advocating for Britain to remain in its European straitjacket have treated voters the same way parents treat a child threatening to run away from home. …

If not yet, then eventually, this kind of thing will backfire.

An Internet Reboot?

Andrea Castillo takes a look at Urbit:

Some developers are seeking to transcend our internet feudalism by minimizing the number of third parties one must patronize to participate in digital society. Open-source operating systems like Linux allow people to take more control over their own computers. Bitcoin substitutes trust in a single payment processor for trust in a cryptographically secure, peer-to-peer network. BitTorrent, similarly, allows individuals to share files using a distributed network that cannot be immediately shut down by targeting any one entity. And several new projects aim to extend this logic to personal computing more generally. There’s OpenBazaar, a distributed marketplace platform that wants to be the “Bitcoin of Amazon” — a censorship-resistant e-commerce protocol that empowers buyers and sellers to transact peacefully without a middleman. There’s the InterPlanetary File System, or IPFS, which would operate as a kind of BitTorrent for the World Wide Web. […] But there is only one project that aims to just start this whole networking thing completely from scratch. It’s an “operating function” called Urbit, and it is by far the most fascinating and bizarre of these attempts to reboot computing. …

Sensitive Interface

Swiss banking giant UBS wants to talk to you about robotic emotion simulation, for some reason. It’s not at all badly done (irrespective of what it’s selling).

Building on [Herbert A.] Simon’s achievements in the field of artificial intelligence, we take a journey to explore the latest innovations in AI and, most importantly, its human element, to ultimately answer the controversial questions: What physical human characteristics and emotions must a robot have to make people react to it? And, obversely, Can AI recognize human emotions? …

The ad (if that’s what it is) has interactive features that seek to make some of its questions performative. It begins to fold back upon itself only in the final section, when it suggests:

Breakthroughs in data processing and conversation systems are helping more and more companies to implement AI in their operations. According to some experts, well-advanced artificial intelligence could someday not only assist businesses in doing their jobs more efficiently, but also bring a more human touch back to customer service, leading consumers to prefer sophisticated and professional AI service to today’s human variety.

Puzzle resolved. We’re exploring a projection of UBS’s customer interface, from the near future.

DAO in the dust

I, for one, welcome our new species of robber baron overlords (non-ironically):

I have carefully examined the code of The DAO and decided to participate after finding the feature where splitting is rewarded with additional ether. I have made use of this feature and have rightfully claimed 3,641,694 ether, and would like to thank the DAO for this reward. It is my understanding that the DAO code contains this feature to promote decentralization and encourage the creation of “child DAOs”.

I am disappointed by those who are characterizing the use of this intentional feature as “theft”. I am making use of this explicitly coded feature as per the smart contract terms and my law firm has advised me that my action is fully compliant with United States criminal and tort law. For reference please review the terms of the DAO …

(Learning is hard.)

Bloomberg commentary.

The reddit FAQ.