Why Tech Is Starting to Make Me Uneasy

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But despite the baubles and billion-dollar office parks, I’m really not feeling it this year. The technology industry is still exciting; it still packs the capacity for surprise. But where the surprise once felt like Christmas morning, it’s now like the entering-the-darkened-basement scene of a horror movie.

Technology has crossed over to the dark side. It’s coming for you; it’s coming for us all, and we may not survive its advance.

So why am I feeling so bad about tech?

Well, who isn’t, right? Look around you. It’s difficult to get jazzed about smartphones and social networks when smartphones and social networks might be ruining the world. The technologies we were most excited about 10 years ago are now implicated in just about every catastrophe of the day. (See how Russian propagandists used Facebook and Twitter to inject false narratives into the news media last year.)

The industry is spawning groundbreaking new services, like artificial intelligence or augmented reality, that may well improve much about our lives — self-driving cars, for instance, could save tens of thousands of lives a year.

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Teens ‘rebelling against social media’, say headteachers

Girls give up their phones at Beneden for three days

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Almost two-thirds of schoolchildren would not mind if social media had never been invented, research suggests.

A survey of almost 5,000 students, mainly aged between 14 and 16, found a growing backlash against social media – with even more pupils (71%) admitting to taking digital detoxes to escape it.

Benenden, an independent girls boarding school in Kent, told BBC News that its pupils set up a three-day “phone-fast”.

Some girls found fears of being offline were replaced by feelings of relief.

RIP The Broccoli Tree

Broccoli Tree Vandal 00

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Oscar Wilde once wrote that “Each man kills the thing he loves”. I don’t know exactly what Wilde meant by that, but our collective attention and obsession, amplified by the speed and intensity of the internet & social media, tends to ruin the things we love: authors, musicians, restaurants, actors, beloved movies, vacation spots, artists, democracies, and even a tree that became too famous to live.

The Hand Has Its Social Media Moment

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The disembodied hand has a sinister cinematic reputation. In horror films, it can be seen scampering across the screen, enacting nefarious deeds — murder, usually. But on social media, the hand has been cast in a new role, as a symbol of artisanal craftsmanship and entrepreneurial zeal.

The online video hand is just as driven as the horror movie version — both appear to have minds of their own. But this time it’s a helping hand, channeling its energies toward cooking party foods and executing creative household hacks. And it’s extending its reach across the internet. A quarter of video views on the Facebook pages of media companies go to these sorts of instructional videos, according to the digital video analytics company Tubular Labs. No faces. No bodies. Just hands.

Co-Parenting With Alexa

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By the next morning, Alexa was the first “person” Grace said hello to as she bounded into the kitchen wearing her pink fluffy dressing gown. My preschooler who can’t yet ride a bike or read a book had also quickly mastered that she could buy things with the bot’s help, or at least try to.

…Today, we’re no longer trusting machines just to do something, but to decide what to do and when to do it. The next generation will grow up in an age where it’s normal to be surrounded by autonomous agents, with or without cute names. The Alexas of the world will make a raft of decisions for my kids and others like them as they proceed through life — everything from whether to have mac and cheese or a green bowl for dinner to the perfect gift for a friend’s birthday to what to do to improve their mood or energy and even advice on whom they should date. In time, the question for them won’t be, “Should we trust robots?” but “Do we trust them too much?”

Everyone Is Trying to Outdo Each Other With Cute Wi-Fi Names

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Network names have gone from being boring digit chains to another opportunity for personalization, like vanity plates or monogrammed towels. “You name your Wi-Fi so you don’t have to read the overly lengthy digit code and password to visitors, but also to authentically create a moment of levity, to tell your friend something they may not know about you,” said Natalie Zfat, 31, a social media entrepreneur in New York City.

Ms. Zfat equates the importance of Wi-Fi branding to screen names 15 years ago. “There were always people who were straightforward and then others who were much more creative and detail focused,” she said, citing aliases like Flirty4u and Sporty88.