Doooomed

Serfs in a gleaming future; blockchain for bail relief; and more.


  • Climate watch: Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis write for The Nation that the anti-worker practices of green-tech giant Tesla will hold back the cause of environmental justice. “Climate action will never pick up the momentum this crisis demands if workers like those in the Fremont plant are treated like serfs in the gleaming future,” they write. “The Tesla case is particularly telling because it is highlights a much larger problem with trying to paper over these challenges with the shiny promise of “green jobs” for all. As Jon Barton, an SEIU deputy director, said at the Debs Park meeting: ‘We can’t ask folks to give up a unionized refinery job paying $100,000 a year for a non-union one installing solar panels paying less than half. That’s not a just transition.'”

  • Russian Twitter accounts were behind a huge push to advance theories about election fraud in the months before the 2016 election, when it was still projected to be a Clinton win, Ben Popken reports for NBC News.

  • Twitter removed the blue checkmark from a handful of white nationalist accounts, and have issued new verification guidelines that prohibit verifying accounts that promote hate or violence against other people based on their identities, Eli Rosenberg reports for The Washington Post.

  • Some activists are using a short horror film to pressure the U.N. to address the potential threat to humanity posed by killer robots, Alan Boyle reports for GeekWire.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Edward Luce writes in the Financial Times that Mark Zuckerberg is deluded about his role in the world. “There is nothing wrong with doing well, especially if you are changing the world,” he writes. “But there is a problem with presenting your prime motive as philanthropic when it is not. Mr Zuckerberg is one of the most successful monitisers of our age. Yet he talks as though he were an Episcopalian pastor.”

  • Stevan Dojcinovic, the editor of an independent, nonprofit investigative journalism organization in Serbia, writes in The New York Times that the recent change in how news stories are shared in Serbia (and four other small countries) pose an “existential threat” to his work.

  • Poynter columnist Melody Kramer interviews Pinboard and Tech Solidarity founder Maciej Ceglowski about the threat that algorithms pose to journalism. “But stop cozying up to the people destroying your profession,” is his message for journalists. “I have been to these news conferences and watched Google baldly assert that it lacks the resources to prune fake news, while prominent journalists nodded along. It was embarrassing to even watch. Focus less on the technology (where it’s easy to fall prey to bullshit) and much more on the power relationships and which way the money flows. Talk to technical experts and cultivate technical sources. Don’t let the big tech companies intimidate you.”

    “Stop looking at which of your stories ‘resonate’, based on clicks and views, and find an alternative way to evaluate your work that is not so granular,” he adds. “Otherwise you’re doomed. Doooomed.”

  • The office of the Missouri Attorney General investigating Google for violating state anti-trust and consumer protection laws declined to say whether campaign contributions from Peter Thiel, a Google critic, had anything to do with the investigation, Bryan Lowry reports for The Kansas City Star. Thiel donated $300,000 to Josh Hawley’s campaign for AG in 2015 and 2016.

  • Writing for Freedom to Tinker, Steven Englehardt explains how websites use scripts from third-party analytics companies to track your movement on websites, including entries in forms even before you press submit. Who hasn’t accidentally typed their password into a username field before? Not secure. Who searches for sensitive medical information? Not secure. Often the tools can be used to connect sensitive information with users’ real identities.

  • The New Inquiry has launched a project in partnership with the Bronx Freedom Fund that uses a network of volunteers’ spare computer processing power to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero, which is then cashed out and used to post bail for low-income detainees.