"Brian Merchant"

Stop saying "robots are coming for your job"; start saying "Your boss wants to replace you with a robot"

Tech reporter and sf writer Brian Merchant (previously) calls our attention to the peculiar construction of the problem statement in articles about automation and obsolescence, in which "robots are coming to steal your job." Read the rest

PWC recommended that corporations should ask science fiction writers about the future

In 2017, Pricewaterhousecooper published Using science fiction to explore business innovation, a guide for corporations that wanted to work with sf writers to think about the future of their businesses; it was part of a wave of corporate interest in the insights of sf writers, which also coincides with a parallel trend in academia (see, for example, ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination and UCSD's Clark Center for Human Imagination, both of which I have some involvement with). Read the rest

Your inbox is full of spyware-riddled emails that are both potentially very harmful to you and also very easy to disable

It is routine for companies -- and even individuals -- to send emails with "beacons," transparent, tiny images that have to be fetched from a server. Through these beacons, companies can tell whether you've opened an email, whom you've forwarded it to, and even your location from moment to moment. Read the rest

Imagining life “After the Big One” hits a major U.S. city

Vice today published a 5-part, deeply reported and researched science fiction series about what happens after the a massive earthquake hits an American city. Read the rest

Robert Silverberg's government-funded guide to the psychoactive drugs of sf

In 1974, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse commissioned sf giant Robert Silverberg to research and write Drug Themes in Science Fiction," a survey of 75 sf stories and novels that included fictional psychoactive drugs. Read the rest

Magic cards generated by neural networks

@RoboRosewater is a twitter account that posts, once a day, a Magic: The Gathering card generated by a recurrent neural network. [via Ditto]

This is an implementation of the science described by Vice's Brian Merchant in this article.

Reed Morgan Milewicz, a programmer and computer science researcher, may be the first person to teach an AI to do Magic, literally. Milewicz wowed a popular online MTG forum—as well as hacker forums like Y Combinator’s Hacker News and Reddit—when he posted the results of an experiment to “teach” a weak AI to auto-generate Magic cards. He shared a number of the bizarre “cards” his program had come up with, replete with their properly fantastical names (“Shring the Artist,” “Mided Hied Parira's Scepter”) and freshly invented abilities (“fuseback”). Players devoured the results.

Here's the code, and here's a simple text-only generator.

Magic: The Gathering is Turing-complete. Read the rest

Leaked docs detail Big Oil and Big PR's plans for a opinion-manipulation platform

The leaked slides were prepared by Edelman, the largest PR company in the world, at the behest of Transcanada, and they constitute a blueprint for tracking and influencing platform that spies on its participants in order to psychologically profile them and nudge them into becoming advocates for the oil industry. Read the rest

Ukraine government sends text to protesters: "Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance"

Ukraine's dictatorship is revelling in its new, self-appointed dictatorial powers. The million-plus participants in the latest round of protests received a text-message from the government reading Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance. Read the rest

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