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You searched for "Agon". Your search returned 54 results.

What a calamity!

Calamity, cataclysm, catastrophe, crisis, catalysis and cacophony bear no common etymology as far as I can see, though they sound as though they should. A calamity derives from the idea of a corn harvest gone bad. A cataclysm is a deluge. A catastrophe is an overturning. A crisis is a moment of decision. A catalysis … Continue reading

China’s oceans of everyday data

A book by Kai-Fu Lee called AI-Superpowers outlines what’s needed for the current generation of artificial intelligence (AI) to succeed, and why China has the necessary ingredients to lead in the area. Lee is CEO of Sinovation Ventures, a firm that finances Chinese high-tech startups. Prior to that he was president of Google China, and … Continue reading

The future of prediction

Google and other digital masters have the capability to capture, store and process the content and meta-data of our communications, movements and interactions. At least, that’s according to Shoshana Zuboff’s argument about life and power in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Aided by algorithms that sort, categorise, and make inferences, Google can predict our desires … Continue reading

Sociable encryption: The secret of the five keys

Will encryption save us? Social psychologist Shoshana Zuboff explains in detail the methods employed by Google and other digital giants to track our clicks, sell our data, and auction targeted advertising slots to monetise our private on-screen experiences. Our online behaviour is the resource. We are the product, not the consumer. Google’s clients are advertisers … Continue reading

The smart of the deal

I’m interested in the technologies, claims and challenges of the smart city: its structures, platforms, processes, security and surveillance systems, involving big data flows and encryption, as well as the city’s opportunists, underworlds, hacks and how cities get interfered with. While futurists, urbanists, academics and cultural commentators probe the city’s covert and overt sign systems, … Continue reading

Getting what he deserves

Gamification draws on a narrow understanding of game play: keeping score, leaderboards, rewards, competition, incentives of various kinds. In fact, stripped of ludic graphics and quirky interactions, gamification typically follows processes derived mostly from accounting: the technology of the ledger, or bookkeeping, more specifically double-entry bookkeeping. Gamification through the ages By most historical accounts this … Continue reading

Too much information

Someone (perhaps Slavoj Žižek) said that Trump’s greatest offence is not that he breaks the law, but that he breaks unwritten norms and conventions. There’s no law that says you have to be polite to everyone, say kind things, always be truthful, apologise when you make a mistake, or give credit where it’s due. Stick … Continue reading

City on a hill

The maze serves as a metaphor for the city. People get lost in the streets, corridors and communication systems of the city. Cities give the appearance of regularity, symmetry, and order, at least on a map. In his description of cities and places, the writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) affirmed that a maze is a … Continue reading

The twist

“Now … every story ever told can be broken down into three distinct parts: the beginning, the middle … and the twist.” That’s a line spoken by the actor Jack Black in the kid-friendly horror film Goosebumps (2015). He’s actually playing R.L. Stine, the author of the popular book series on which the film is … Continue reading

Escapology 101

Biologists and animal behaviourists refer to their study of escape responses as escapology. Fish, cockroaches and higher animals move at speed in a direction away from an immediate threat from a predator, but not always, and not directly. The direction of the escape travel depends on the lay of the land, the position of likely … Continue reading

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