Hey this is my blog about my favorite news platforms. I like to read the New York Times. I read the new york times:


Media and Consumerism

Just wanted to add a quick note that I really enjoyed this class and am grateful to everyone who was a part of it! I hope you enjoy learning about my research. If you have any questions about it or our studies together in the future, just post a comment or shoot me an email! Have a great break!

All fun and no joy: tech today and where it’s going

My brain has been on hyperdrive the past few months. With each new idea discussed in class, I no longer see the small individual gains of technological advancements beyond the haze of a dystopian tech-dependent future. In my first post I wondered, where was the humanity in all of these new technologies? Today, I know for certain that it is absent.

Tristan Harris of feels the same way.

Again, what problem is this digital technology solving for? Call me a millennial, but I have visions of dismantling tech and starting a revolution. Where to? I have no idea, but I know this road we’re on leads to no where good, and I feel frantic about rerouting our course. With a smartphone in nearly every back pocket, human beings are farting out data everywhere they go. Things with internet are popping up like daisies. Teenagers have wild anxiety and depression issues before they’re out of puberty. People have become suspicious that corporations are spying on them. We are no longer in the Cold War, but the ice caps are melting and my boss can’t stop raving about how he can press a button to order toilet paper whilst on the John because of Amazon Dash.

So the robots are coming. The world will be changing dramatically right before our eyes, and there’s not much I can do about it. We all want a better world, right? I don’t have all the answers, but my gut says to put humanity first. We should all take a more active role in recognizing how technology is influencing our reality and our perception of it. It is my hope that the next policy-makers put a grip on these tech companies and help us all to understand how they are warping our reality.

I knew that this program was to some degree tech-y, and that’s why I chose it. Having worked in tech the past four years with consistent inklings to become a journalist, I thought the two would marry nicely at this program. I’m now forever grateful that I followed the hunch, because I’m receiving a technological lens as well as actual web development skills that I didn’t fully anticipate. Now that I know where we’re headed, I’m grateful and even (dare I say) optimistic for the future.

Everything is temporary

Throughout watching Brett Gaylor’s 2008 RiP! A Remix Manifesto, I kept trying to remember that quote from Andy Warhol, turns out it was Pablo Picasso:

Good art borrows, great art steals.

It’s a pretty popular idea–thanks internet!

Every artist yet to understand that has a lot of learning to do; and every corporation who denies it is both predictably greedy and fundamentally insecure. When I think about how we got here, my face does something much like that kid about 50 minutes into the documentary–the one who is realizing all the trouble he’s in from downloading music illegally.

Because wasn’t copyright law supposed to be about the artists getting what they deserved? As we also learned from Zane Lowe, shouldn’t record labels’ role in all of this to simply be a conduit for artists and the audiences? “Fair use” sounds like a bologna pacifier which the industry fed to creators to get them to comply with the law, and ultimately, the artists fell from the top of the priorities list. Why? The trouble is, creation makes sense in a simple cyclical way within our consumerist society: production for consumption. Even though I very much identified with this quote:

I never asked to have your brands and logos shoved down my throat all the time, so why should I have to ask to use it?

Next to the capitalism of America, Brazil’s upset to it all seems like an actual utopia.

Where are we going next? As the rest of the world climbs aboard the internet bandwagon, heavy hitting issues like net neutrality will ebb and flow into global priority, hopefully allowing a more open, connected and free internet.

The title of this blog post is my favorite mantra. I repeat it to myself nearly everyday in myriad of situations: before I pop the last French fry in my mouth, during terrifying turbulence of a trans-atlantic flight, as I refill my bottomless gas tank at night, watch the price climb, and consider the frozen food I have sitting at home. My joys arrive with expiration dates. My woes come and go like Drake’s poignancy on a 22-track album. Artists and their work are both ephemeral and timeless, and the laws supporting corporate greed that stand in the way of creativity may one day be just as impermanent.

In New York City, the MTA put poetry up in the subway cars. I’ve always liked this one and find it particularly appropriate for this post.

AI, Joblessness, and Our Global Economy

What’s the biggest issue facing humanity today? Is it ISIS? Climate change? The increasing wage gap? All three? Kevin Drum’s editorial on the impending ubiquity of artificial intelligence bluntly illustrates exactly how, why, and when robots will take our jobs, create a global upset of mass unemployment, and completely warp the mechanics of our current economy.
It’s easy to be ignorant of scenarios historically reserved for science fiction films and comic books, but Robo Scarjo has been quietly creeping up on us, and over the next 40 years she will materialize in front of our eyes in true fantasy fashion. Drum refutes each and every counterargument for AI’s approaching monopoly of the job market; here’s a quick summary:
  1. Computing power won’t keep doubling forever. This argument is essentially ignorant of the nature of microprocessing and the likelihood that it will advance around roadblocks. 
  2. AI computing power has been all talk for decades. Early 70’s naive optimism aside, we’ve finally built computers with roughly the raw processing power of the human brain. And it’s growing exponentially. 
  3. There’s a difference between acting intelligent and being intelligent. Philosophy, schmilosophy. That’s ignorant of the economic value, because when someone’s looking to hire, do they really care if they have a soul?
  4. Every new iteration of automation just makes us more efficient. The AI revolution is different than the industrial revolution, as robots will manufacture themselves, program themselves, repair themselves, and manage themselves. After all, human beings complain, steal company pens, and spend too much time scrolling during bathroom breaks. Robots make for far better employees anyway.


Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 4.43.39 PM

The above infographic demonstrates that artificial intelligence progresses in exponential time. Economists break employment down into four parts, and the employment opportunities will be capitalized by robots in the following order: Routine physical (digging ditches, driving trucks), Routine Cognitive (accounts-payable clerk, telephone sales), Non-routine physical (short-order cook, home health aide), and Non-routine cognitive (teacher, doctor, CEO).

In short, we’ll all be jobless by 2060. What’s the world to do? Stop time? Put Robo Scarjo back in her box? Not possible, and even if it were, AI is the globe’s contemporary race to the moon. If America were to unlace her sneakers here, it would be irresponsible to the people of the nation.

So where does that leave us? For the vast majority of us who don’t own capital and currently trade work for money, we’ll suffer. What will upend the mechanics of our economy, though, is that capitalists need consumers to buy their goods and services, and if no one has money to buy, they’ve basically automated themselves into a cashless corner.

There are numerous ways this could play out, the most probable is some kind of combination of universal basic income, as well as a tax on robot labor. Some nations have already put UBI into play. It’s still a novel idea, but it will likely be the leading idea that takes us forward.

The troubling issue is that income inequality has already been increasing for quite some time. Martin Ford illustrates that

We may face the prospect of a “perfect storm” where the impacts from soaring inequality, technological unemployment, and climate change unfold roughly in parallel, and some ways amplify and reinforce each other.”

That sounds plausible, likely, and terrifying. I won’t be holding my breath until this depiction becomes a reality. In anticipation, I would think more people need to unionize, policymakers need to put this issue at the forefront, and we all need to put the earth first.



New! Free! How the internet market will continue to work for the consumer.

We live in a society seemingly characterized by our democratic values and our freedom to choose. We choose who to elect as our President. We choose what to put in our bodies. We chose between enrolling in state universities, small liberal arts colleges, or not enrolling in higher education at all. We think that we move about our choices and commit to decisions with ease more organic and natural than the abundance of goods at Whole Foods, but the fact is, individual motivation does not exist in a vacuum of our own individual psychologies–we don’t really have much choice in these matters at all.

It’s been decades since Lucky Strike figured out that people will buy things they don’t need (more cigarettes) if they are presented in a way that satisfies their inner desires (sex). Now that the world is full of things we don’t need and are made available to purchase, corporations are figuring out how to occupy our attention and our wallets in the newest ever-evolving market: the internet.

Wired’s Chris Anderson published The Long Tail in October 2004 which presented a novel idea of how consumerism will be (and has been since) successful on the internet. When a person is shopping in real life today, they often end up buying things they don’t need. In the digital marketplace, Amazon capitalized on this simply by making educated recommendations. New online retailers, like Netflix, provide an example of the long tail model whereby simply providing any and every title at a low monthly subscription cost, they’re capitalizing on the consumers outside of the norm where, as venture capitalist Kevin Laws puts it:

The biggest money is in the smallest sales.

Chris Anderson presented another idea a few years later in 2008 about “freeconomics”, and how the psychology behind buying something with a free gift proves very successful online.

Everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as we consumers are concerned. Storage now joins bandwidth (YouTube: free) and processing power (Google: free) in the race to the bottom. Basic economics tells us that in a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. There’s never been a more competitive market than the Internet, and every day the marginal cost of digital information comes closer to nothing.

What’s more intriguing than buying something and getting a free gift with purchase? Buying something and getting an abundant choice of entertainment to tickle any fancy however spontaneous or niche. When retailers are combining the concepts of the Long Tail, and Free, that’s when things get interesting. T-Mobile, for example, must have desperately hired a psychologist to help them figure this one out: their free gift with purchase is a complimentary Netflix subscription. As the internet continues to warp our marketplace, package deals such as these combination subscription services will likely pop up. We certainly do not need Netflix today, but if a retailer selling something I do need will throw it in my shopping bag gratis? There’s just no choice–you bet I’m buying.

As for any new business out there that emerges in cyberspace before becoming a brick and mortar entity, if they’re not free, I doubt they’ll survive. What does this mean for the consumers of tomorrow? Lots and lots of advertising.