Category Archives: what are computers for

Computerization, Centralization, and Concentration

uranium enrichment centrifuge

One of the most dangerous canards of the digital revolution is the one according to which distribution, decentralization, and democratization are the characteristic hallmarks of contemporary mass computerization. To writers of earlier ages (Huxley, Orwell, Lem, Weizenbaum, Wiener, Mumford, Ellul, Roszak, just to name a few), such sentiments would seem shocking, because what they understood […]

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Stuxnet Redux, or, Computational Power, the State, and Propaganda (and Flame)

We were first alerted to the existence of the Stuxnet worm in 2010, due to some interesting security breaches and reporting in the New York Times making it clear that a nation-state–by direct implication and what may have been deliberate misdirection at that time, Israel–must have been behind the worm. Soon after we were alerted […]

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Usually Video Game Players Are More Careful About Teammates

You don’t want your raid to fuck up by relying on lousy players, do you? Then you might want to think very carefully about greedily signing on with the current star chamber. General note: when Antonin Scalia is on your side, question less your opponents and more why it is you are on that side. […]

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IBM, Now Serving Precrime (We Are Building Big Brother #2)

From Jeffrey Warren via nettime-l CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–SPSS, an IBM (NYSE: IBM) Company, today announced that the Florida State Department of Juvenile Justice selected IBM predictive analytics software to reduce recidivism by determining which juveniles are likely to reoffend. Identified at-risk youth can then be placed in programs specific to the best course of treatment to […]

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Draft for Comment: ‘Playing with Rules’

The Electronic Book Review kindly published an in-depth review of The Cultural Logic of Computation (and of Mark McGurl’s The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing, both Harvard UP 2009) by Brian Lennon titled “Gaming the System.” The editors of the journal ask all reviewed authors to respond; after far too […]

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Not Everything, But… (Toyotatron)

I don’t mean to blame every bad thing in the world on computerization–but I think it is crucial part of computationalist discourse that when a critique of computerization is offered, instead of rebutting the critique, the answer is usually to raise some putative good that computers do (this is a pattern I encounter in person, […]

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“Open Science,” “Climate Change,” “Transparency,” “Trust,” and the “Internet Age”

Anyone about to cheer The Wall Street Journal‘s giving Evgeny Morozov a platform to speak will revert to their usual outrage at Rupert Murdoch’s flagship publication in today’s remarkable op-ed by “media and information industry advisor and executive” and former WSJ publisher L. Gordon Crovitz published under the heading: “Climate Change and Open Science: In […]

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Neoliberalism, Info-determinism, Expressive Absolutism

One of the central and most symptomatic of computational slogans is “information wants to be free.” Like most computational ideologies, it’s willfully techno-determinist, almost vitalist, with regard to “what information does,” even if many who recite the slogan may find ways to construe it otherwise. Like many pieces of “wisdom” that circulate in the digital […]

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19 Minutes Ago, or, Networks Are Not Inherently Emancipatory (What Are Computers For? #34986732)

jihadist website

Original reportage by Michael Holden of Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL2658640020071106 Experts Say West Can’t Stop Web Radicalization Tues, Nov 6, 2007 By Michael Holden 19 minutes ago LONDON (Reuters) – From behind a computer keyboard at his London home, student Younes Tsouli used the Internet to spread al Qaeda propaganda, recruit suicide bombers and promote Web sites […]

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One Generation Is All They Need (What Are Computers For? #4975)

This nightmare scenario appeared as news in the Toronto Star recently, despite being pretty much just an op-ed. Some of the things he says strike me as not off the mark, and not quite what anyone else has said recently (though look at what the kids are up to in 1984… for some similar concerns, […]

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