jm + dystopia   20

What China's Surveillance Means for the Rest of the World | Time
Bakitali Nur, 47, a fruit and vegetable exporter in the Xinjiang town of Khorgos, was arrested after authorities became suspicious of his frequent business trips abroad. The father of three says he spent a year in a single room with seven other inmates, all clad in blue jumpsuits, forced to sit still on plastic stools for 17 hours straight as four HikVision cameras recorded every move. “Anyone caught talking or moving was forced into stress positions for hours at a time,” he says.

Bakitali was released only after he developed a chronic illness. But his surveillance hell continued over five months of virtual house arrest, which is common for former detainees. He was forbidden from traveling outside his village without permission, and a CCTV camera was installed opposite his home. Every time he approached the front door, a policeman would call to ask where he was going. He had to report to the local government office every day to undergo “political education” and write a self-criticism detailing his previous day’s activities. Unable to travel for work, former detainees like Bakitali are often obliged to toil at government factories for wages as miserly as 35¢ per day, according to former workers interviewed by TIME. “The entire system is designed to suppress us,” Bakitali says in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he escaped in May.

The result is dystopian. When every aspect of life is under constant scrutiny, it’s not just “bad” behavior that must be avoided. Muslims in Xinjiang are under constant pressure to act in a manner that the CCP would approve. While posting controversial material online is clearly reckless, not using social media at all could also be considered suspicious, so Muslims share glowing news about the country and party as a means of defense.
uighurs  china  dystopia  surveillance  xinjiang  authoritarianism  grim 
10 weeks ago by jm
China’s Operating Manuals for Mass Internment and Arrest by Algorithm - ICIJ
“The Chinese have bought into a model of policing where they believe that through the collection of large-scale data run through artificial intelligence and machine learning that they can, in fact, predict ahead of time where possible incidents might take place, as well as identify possible populations that have the propensity to engage in anti-state anti-regime action,” said Mulvenon, the SOS International document expert and director of intelligence integration. “And then they are preemptively going after those people using that data.”

Mulvenon said IJOP is more than a “pre-crime” platform, but a “machine-learning, artificial intelligence, command and control” platform that substitutes artificial intelligence for human judgment. He described it as a “cybernetic brain” central to China’s most advanced police and military strategies. Such a system “infantilizes” those tasked with implementing it, said Mulvenon, creating the conditions for policies that could spin out of control with catastrophic results.

The program collects and interprets data without regard to privacy, and flags ordinary people for investigation based on seemingly innocuous criteria, such as daily prayer, travel abroad, or frequently using the back door of their home.

Perhaps even more significant than the actual data collected are the grinding psychological effects of living under such a system.  With batteries of facial-recognition cameras on street corners, endless checkpoints and webs of informants, IJOP generates a sense of an omniscient, omnipresent state that can peer into the most intimate aspects of daily life.  As neighbors disappear based on the workings of unknown algorithms, Xinjiang lives in a perpetual state of terror.

The seeming randomness of investigations resulting from IJOP isn’t a bug but a feature, said Samantha Hoffman, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute whose research focuses on China’s use of data collection for social control. “That’s how state terror works,” Hoffman said. “Part of the fear that this instills is that you don’t know when you’re not OK.”
terror  dystopia  china  algorithms  ijop  future  policing  grim-meathook-future  privacy  data-privacy  uighurs 
12 weeks ago by jm
Computer says no: the people trapped in universal credit's 'black hole'
This is some horrifically dystopian shit from the UK:
Tears filled the eyes of Danny Brice, 47, in London when he showed the Guardian how difficult he has found negotiating the UC programme with learning disabilities and dyslexia.

“I call it the black hole,” he said. “I feel shaky. I get stressed about it. This is the worst system in my lifetime. They assess you as a number not a person. Talking is the way forward, not a bloody computer. I feel like the computer is controlling me instead of a person. It’s terrifying.”

Nine million people in the UK are functionally illiterate and 5 million adults have either never used the internet or last used it more than three months ago. And yet many of these people rely on a “digital by default” welfare system.
poverty  ai  algorithms  uk  politics  universal-credit  dystopia  bureaucracy  dwp  benefits  grim-meathook-future 
october 2019 by jm
The Plan to Use Fitbit Data to Stop Mass Shootings Is One of the Scariest Proposals Yet
“The proposed data collection goes beyond absurdity when they mention the desire to collect FitBit data,” Annas told Gizmodo. “I am unaware of any study linking walking too much and committing mass murder. As for the other technologies, what are these people expecting? ‘Alexa, tell me the best way to kill a lot of people really quickly’? Really?” [....]

Fridel said that “literally any risk factor identified for mass shooters will result in millions of false positives,” adding that the most reliable risk factor is gender, and that most mass murderers are male. “Should we create a list of all men in the United States and keep tabs on them?” she said. “Although it would be absurd and highly unethical, doing so would be more effective than keeping a list of persons with mental illness.”
dystopia  technology  grim-meathook-future  data-protection  data-privacy  fitbit  harpa 
september 2019 by jm
'Bees, not refugees': the environmentalist roots of anti-immigrant bigotry | Environment | The Guardian
proclamations of looming dystopia in the form of a mass climate-caused global refugee crisis put well-intentioned environmentalists on some shared ground with fear-mongering nativists, even as they’re attempting to convey a useful urgency about the future of the planet and the disproportionate impacts of climate crisis on the developing world.

“Not to say there won’t be climate-related migration, but I think that portrayal of migrants as climate change refugees, especially these mass movements of people, feeds into the anti-immigrant environmental worldview,” said Hartmann. “Alarmist hyperbole and stereotypes around climate conflict and even climate mass refugee dislocation is based on kind of old, racially and colonially charged stereotypes of poor people of color being more prone to violence in times of scarcity.”

A worsening climate crisis could easily become a cudgel for anti-immigration activists looking to use ecological preservation as an excuse to close borders, a means of gesturing toward doing something about climate crisis that aligns with the right’s other political goals.

“As it becomes more difficult for Republicans to deny that climate change is a thing, this is a really likely next move for the right in climate politics,” said Hultgren.
environment  racism  politics  climate-change  future  dystopia  refugees  immigration 
august 2019 by jm
Dystopias Now
Kim Stanley Robinson calling for fully automated luxury communism
ksr  kim-stanley-robinson  future  dystopia  writing  utopia  scifi 
august 2019 by jm
The New Wilderness (Idle Words)
Our discourse around privacy needs to expand to address foundational questions about the role of automation: To what extent is living in a surveillance-saturated world compatible with pluralism and democracy? What are the consequences of raising a generation of children whose every action feeds into a corporate database? What does it mean to be manipulated from an early age by machine learning algorithms that adaptively learn to shape our behavior?
facebook  google  privacy  future  dystopia  surveillance  society 
june 2019 by jm
The Making of a YouTube Radical - The New York Times
Near the end of our interview, I told Mr. Cain that I found it odd that he had successfully climbed out of a right-wing YouTube rabbit hole, only to jump into a left-wing YouTube rabbit hole. I asked if he had considered cutting back on his video intake altogether, and rebuild some of his offline relationships.

He hesitated, and looked slightly confused. For all of its problems, he said, YouTube is still where political battles are fought and won. Leaving the platform would essentially mean abandoning the debate.

He conceded, though, that he needed to think critically about the videos he watched.

“YouTube is the place to put out a message,” he said. “But I’ve learned now that you can’t go to YouTube and think that you’re getting some kind of education, because you’re not.”
youtube  politics  nytimes  racism  right-wing  dystopia 
june 2019 by jm
The Existential Crisis Plaguing Online Extremism Researchers
Oh god. This, so much:
Many researchers in the field cut their teeth as techno-optimists, studying the positive aspects of the internet—like bringing people together to enhance creativity or further democratic protest, á la the Arab Spring—says Marwick. But it didn’t last.

The past decade has been an exercise in dystopian comeuppance to the utopian discourse of the '90s and ‘00s. Consider Gamergate, the Internet Research Agency, fake news, the internet-fueled rise of the so-called alt-right, Pizzagate, QAnon, Elsagate and the ongoing horrors of kids YouTube, Facebook’s role in fanning the flames of genocide, Cambridge Analytica, and so much more.

“In many ways, I think it [the malaise] is a bit about us being let down by something that many of us really truly believed in,” says Marwick. Even those who were more realistic about tech—and foresaw its misuse—are stunned by the extent of the problem, she says. “You have to come to terms with the fact that not only were you wrong, but even the bad consequences that many of us did foretell were nowhere near as bad as the actual consequences that either happened or are going to happen.”

[.....] “It's not that one of our systems is broken; it's not even that all of our systems are broken,” says Phillips. “It's that all of our systems are working ... toward the spread of polluted information and the undermining of democratic participation.”


(via Paul Moloney)
future  grim  dystopia  tech  optimism  web  internet  gamergate  wired  via:oceanclub 
june 2019 by jm
'The Internet of Garbage' by Sarah Jeong
Sarah Jeong's 2015 book is now free:

'I think The Internet of Garbage still provides a useful framework to begin to
talk about our new dystopia, and it continues to be surprisingly relevant in many
ways. But I wrote the book with a tone of optimism I did not feel even at the time,
hoping that by reaching the well-meaning policy teams across Silicon Valley, I
might be able to spark change for the better.
Not only did that change never quite solidify, but the coordinated,
orchestrated harassment campaigns of Gamergate that I very briefly touch on in
Chapter Two have since overtaken our national political and cultural
conversations. These twisted knots of lies, deflection, and rage are not just some
weird and terrible online garbage. They shadow executive orders, court rulings,
even the newly appointed judiciary. They will haunt us for years to come. We are
all victims of fraud in the marketplace of ideas.
I hope that in the very near future, I will be putting out a second edition of
The Internet of Garbage. In that future edition, I hope to grapple with advertising
incentives, engagement traps, international propaganda wars, the American crisis
in free speech coinciding with the rise of platform power, and search engine
optimization as the new paradigm of speech.
In the meantime, I am putting out The Internet of Garbage 1.5 as an interim
edition. I wish it were more helpful in our present reality. But as imperfect a tool
as it is, I figure we all need as much help as we can get. '
dystopia  fake-news  internet  spam  harrassment  abuse  twitter  gamergate  politics  books  free  to-read 
september 2018 by jm
Yelp, The Red Hen, And How All Tech Platforms Are Now Pawns In The Culture War
Though the brigading of review sites and doxxing behavior isn’t exactly new, the speed and coordination is; one consequence of a never-ending information war is that everyone is already well versed in their specific roles. And across the internet, it appears that technology platforms, both big and small, must grapple with the reality that they are now powerful instruments in an increasingly toxic political and cultural battle. After years attempting to dodge notions of bias at all costs, Silicon Valley’s tech platforms are up against a painful reality: They need to expect and prepare for the armies of the culture war and all the uncomfortable policing that inevitably follows.

Policing and intervening isn’t just politically tricky for the platforms, it’s also a tacit admission that Big Tech’s utopian ideologies are deeply flawed in practice. Connecting everyone and everything in an instantly accessible way can have terrible consequences that the tech industry still doesn’t seem to be on top of. Silicon Valley frequently demos a future of seamless integration. It’s a future where cross-referencing your calendar with Yelp, Waze, and Uber creates a service that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It’s an appealing vision, but it is increasingly co-opted by its darker counterpart, in which major technology platforms are daisy-chained together to manipulate, abuse, and harass.
culture-war  technology  silicon-valley  yelp  reviews  red-hen  dystopia  spam  doxxing  brigading  politics 
june 2018 by jm
Austerity is an Algorithm
Fucking hell, things sound grim Down Under:
Things changed in December 2016, when the government announced that the system had undergone full automation. Humans would no longer investigate anomalies in earnings. Instead, debt notices would be automatically generated when inconsistencies were detected. The government’s rationale for automating the process was telling. “Our aim is to ensure that people get what they are entitled to—no more and no less,” read the press release. “And to crack down hard when people deliberately defraud the system.”

The result was a disaster. I’ve had friends who’ve received an innocuous email urging them to check their MyGov account—an online portal available to Australian citizens with an internet connection to access a variety of government services—only to log in and find they’re hundreds or thousands of dollars in arrears, supposedly because they didn’t accurately report their income. Some received threats from private debt collectors, who told them their wages would be seized if they didn’t submit to a payment plan.

Those who wanted to contest their debts had to lodge a formal complaint, and were subjected to hours of Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major before they could talk to a case worker. Others tried taking their concerns directly to the Centrelink agency on Twitter, where they were directed to calling Lifeline, a 24-hour hotline for crisis support and suicide prevention.

At the end of 2015, my friend Chloe received a notice claiming she owed $20,000 to the government. She was told that she had reported her income incorrectly while on Youth Allowance, which provides financial assistance to certain categories of young people.

The figure was shocking and, like others in her position, she grew suspicious. She decided to contest the debt: she contacted all of her previous employers so she could gather pay slips, and scanned them into the MyGov app. “I gave them all of my information to prove that there was no way I owed them $20,000,” she says.

The bean counters were unmoved. They maintained that Chloe had reported her after-tax income instead of her before-tax income. As a result, they increased the amount she owed to $30,000. She agreed to a payment plan, which will see her pay off the debt in fortnightly installments of $50 over the course of two decades. “I even looked into bankruptcy because I was so stressed by it,” she says. “All I could think about was the Centrelink debt, and once they upped it to 30k, I was so ashamed and sad and miserable,” she says.
austerity  algorithms  automation  dystopia  australia  government  debt-collectors  robo-debt  dole  benefit  grim-meathook-future 
april 2018 by jm
He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He's Worried About An Information Apocalypse.
“In the next two, three, four years we’re going to have to plan for hobbyist propagandists who can make a fortune by creating highly realistic, photo realistic simulations,” Justin Hendrix, the executive director of NYC Media Lab, told BuzzFeed News. “And should those attempts work, and people come to suspect that there's no underlying reality to media artifacts of any kind, then we're in a really difficult place. It'll only take a couple of big hoaxes to really convince the public that nothing’s real.”
fake-news  reality  news  ai  propaganda  future  black-mirror  media  hoaxes  dystopia 
february 2018 by jm
I Just Love This Juicero Story So Much
When we signed up to pump money into this juice company, it was because we thought drinking the juice would be a lot harder and more expensive. That was the selling point, because Silicon Valley is a stupid libertarian dystopia where investor-class vampires are the consumers and a regular person’s money is what they go shopping for. Easily opened bags of juice do not give these awful nightmare trash parasites a good bargain on the disposable income of credulous wellness-fad suckers; therefore easily opened bags of juice are a worse investment than bags of juice that are harder to open.
juicero  juicebros  techbros  silicon-valley  funny  dystopia  fruit  bags  juice 
april 2017 by jm
Machine Bias: There’s Software Used Across the Country to Predict Future Criminals. And it’s Biased Against Blacks. - ProPublica
holy crap, this is dystopian:
The first time Paul Zilly heard of his score — and realized how much was riding on it — was during his sentencing hearing on Feb. 15, 2013, in court in Barron County, Wisconsin. Zilly had been convicted of stealing a push lawnmower and some tools. The prosecutor recommended a year in county jail and follow-up supervision that could help Zilly with “staying on the right path.” His lawyer agreed to a plea deal.
But Judge James Babler had seen Zilly’s scores. Northpointe’s software had rated Zilly as a high risk for future violent crime and a medium risk for general recidivism. “When I look at the risk assessment,” Babler said in court, “it is about as bad as it could be.”
Then Babler overturned the plea deal that had been agreed on by the prosecution and defense and imposed two years in state prison and three years of supervision.
dystopia  law  policing  risk  risk-assessment  northpointe  racism  fortune-telling  crime 
may 2016 by jm
In China, Your Credit Score Is Now Affected By Your Political Opinions – And Your Friends’ Political Opinions
China just introduced a universal credit score, where everybody is measured as a number between 350 and 950. But this credit score isn’t just affected by how well you manage credit – it also reflects how well your political opinions are in line with Chinese official opinions, and whether your friends’ are, too.


Measuring using online mass surveillance, naturally. This may be the most dystopian thing I've heard in a while....
via:raycorrigan  dystopia  china  privacy  mass-surveillance  politics  credit  credit-score  loans  opinions 
october 2015 by jm
Coining "Dysguria"
“dysaguria” is the perfect noun, and “dysagurian” is the perfect adjective, to describe the eponymous company in Dave Eggers’ The Circle. It’s not in the same league as Orwell, or Huxley, or Bradbury, or Burgess. But it does raise very important questions about what could possibly go wrong if one company controlled all the world’s information. In the novel, the company operates according to the motto “all that happens must be known”; and one of its bosses, Eamon Bailey, encourages everywoman employee Mae Holland to live an always-on (clear, transparent) life according the maxims “secrets are lies”, “sharing is caring”, and “privacy is theft”. Eggers’s debts to dystopian fiction are apparent. But, whereas writers like Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury, and Burgess were concerned with totalitarian states, Eggers is concerned with a totalitarian company. However, the noun “dystopia” and the adjective “dystopian” – perfect though they are for the terror of military/security authoritarianism in 1984, or Brave new World, or Farenheit 451, or A Clockwork Orange – do not to my mind encapsulate the nightmare of industrial/corporate tyranny in The Circle. On the other hand, “dysaguria” as a noun and “dysagurian” as an adjective, in my view really do capture the essence of that “frightening company”.
dysaguria  dystopia  future  sf  authoritarianism  surveillance  the-circle  google  facebook 
february 2015 by jm
Smash the Engine
Jacobin Magazine on the revolutionary political allegory in "Snowpiercer":

'If Snowpiercer had merely told the tale of an oppressed working class rising up to seize power from an evil overlord, it would already have been an improvement over most of the political messages in mainstream cinema. There are all sorts of nice touches in its portrayal of a declining capitalism that can maintain its ideological legitimacy even when it literally has no more bullets in its guns. But the story Bong tells goes beyond that. It’s about the limitations of a revolution which merely takes over the existing social machinery rather than attempting to transcend it. '
dystopia  revolution  snowpiercer  movies  marxism  sf  politics 
january 2015 by jm
Uber Optics
That the company's consistent, nearly frozen posture of disingenuous smirking means that the most perceptible "Uber problem" is almost always how it frames things, rather than how it actually operates, whether it's systematically sabotaging of competitors or using its quarter-billion-dollar war chest to relentlessly cut fares and driver pay to unsustainable levels in order to undercut existing transit systems, is remarkable in its way, though. If your company's trying to conquer the world, in the end, being a dick might be the best PR strategy of all.
uber  dicks  dystopia  grim-meathook-future  teachers  california  free-markets  optics  pr  economy  america 
october 2014 by jm

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