To only slightly paraphrase William Gibson - cyberpunk is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed. Cyberpunk predicted a future where people subordinated themselves to Japanese-style megacorps and freedom could only be found at the margins, by intrepid demi-monde hackers with zany hairstyles. What we have is actually worse: you are disposable even if you play by the rules.
And most of the intrepid hackers have been pacified by promises of fat IPOs and mainstream acceptance. They spend their time finding new ways to shove ads down our throats and creating solutions for "problems" no one outside of the Bay Area actually cares about.
Isn't it a bit weird that Edward Snowden, our one bona fide cyberpunk hero, throwing back the curtain on a massive government panopticon, was a government contractor? The kind of working-for-the-man corporate drone that was meant to contrast negatively with cyberpunk's zany heroes?
As for all those other trappings of robots and whatnot, we're getting there. Without further ado, I present you the most cyberpunk moments of 2015.
Remember Anne Frank? Tragic story. If only there had been anything someone could have done. Like, for example, giving her family a visa to come to the US, or Cuba, or anywhere else on the planet.
There was a Twitter discussion yesterday about a transphobic joke in the recent Obsidian game Pillars of Eternity. Here's is my attempt to convince you that transphobic details in fiction are a problem.
When I set up Twitter accounts for our two cats, I noticed that the Twitter signup process has become very... interesting. It tries very hard to get you to use Twitter in a particular way using a bunch of dark patterns. Dark patterns are user interfaces designed to trick people.
Let me walk you through the process of setting up a Twitter account now:
I kind of want to be part of a passive-aggressive urban guerrilla movement. It would do the following things:
You know about Peak Oil - the point in history where we extract the most amount of oil out of the ground. After peak oil, oil doesn't disappear, but it does become scarcer and more expensive. Long before peak oil, a civilization may encounter Peak Wood.
A major feature of academic publishing these days is the "impact factor" - the average number of times a publication's papers have been cited somewhere else. Impact factors get a lot of attention, and it's sometimes no longer enough to just publish something. To really be seen as successful, you have to publish in a high-factor journal. I guess people like scores, and will gamify anything if you let them.
Having read David's excellent proposal for a better voting system, I thought I'd write down some ideas on a better civic culture to complement it.
"Leader" is a really overused word. You hear it all the time in the press, in headlines such as "world leaders meet at Davos". There's a lot of people involved in charity or activism who attempt to achieve their aims by talking to these "leaders" - business leaders, political leaders, community leaders. The latter especially can mean anyone loud enough to dominate a conversation.
I absolutely hate this word. I think it's undemocratic, and it papers over a lot of differences.