Sign in

The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.
Photo: Facebook

If you’re an avid user of Facebook, it likely knows you better than you know yourself. It has access to your data, your friend’s list, your memories, your messages, and a record of everything you’ve ever clicked on, commented on or scrolled past on the platform throughout your history on it.

Not content with the data pool it has built (read: stolen from unwitting users), Facebook now wants to see what you see by living in front of your eyes.

It’s hard not to be cynical about the launch of Ray-Ban Stories, the $299 Smart Glass collaboration between Ray-Bans and…

Photo by Denis Cherkashin on Unsplash

Will Tim Cook unveil an iPhone 13? That’s the million-dollar (or multi-billion-dollar) question circling next week’s big Apple product event.

Just as we were still shaking off the sleepy vestiges of a long Labor Day Weekend, the Cupertino technology giant sent out invites early Tuesday for a “Special Apple Event broadcasting from Apple Park.”

Almost two years into the pandemic and many months from our last in-person product event with any company, we’ve all grown used to these streaming product productions. Apple, in particular, appears more adept at it than most. …

OpenAI logo

The best intentions can be corrupted when money gets in the way.

OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a non-profit company whose primary concern was to ensure that artificial general intelligence (AGI) would be created safely and would benefit all humanity evenly.

“As a non-profit, our aim is to build value for everyone rather than shareholders.” Is it though?

In 2019, OpenAI became a for-profit company called OpenAI LP, controlled by a parent company called OpenAI Inc. The result was a “capped-profit” structure that would limit the return of investment at 100-fold the original sum. If you invested $10 million…

Mother holding a baby and taking a photo of them both.
Photo: The Conversation

Austin never got to choose not to be on the internet.

Beginning with annals of his parents’ previous attempts at conception, through two rounds of IVF, a photo of the plastic stick that finally held “two pink lines,” and the real-time video of them receiving the sonogram, even before he had inhaled his first breath, Austin’s story was already being written for him.

Eleven years on, the saga continues: harrowing tales of learning to walk and #poopingonthepotty; the time a bout of diarrhea and his mother’s Facebook friends’ cure-all advise went viral; a video of getting ready for his first…

semachthemonkey/CC BY 3.0 (modified)

The kind of activism I do has a serious structural barrier: it’s esoteric. Even today, tech-policy issues are extremely niche. Indeed, tech-policy is a niche within a niche —most people have little technical knowledge and most people have little policy expertise, and the stuff I do requires that you have some of both.

Now, this lack of niche expertise is self-correcting. Today, millions of Facebook users don’t like the service and would like to leave, but can’t — Facebook has locked them in. This makes it a lot easier to talk about the problems of lock-in and the benefits of…

The following is a selection from Big Technology, a newsletter by Alex Kantrowitz. To get it in your inbox each week, you can sign up here.

Of the many sentences the Wall Street Journal published about Facebook this week, one stood out: “The fear was that eventually users might stop using Facebook altogether.”

Facebook’s executives, according to the Journal’s document-based reporting, feared the service’s decline in 2017 — and for good reason. Comments, likes, reshares, and original posts were all falling that year. Without this activity, Facebook would be a shell, and people might stop coming back. …


Hey nerds: I recently stumbled across “Marginalia Search”. It’s a search engine with a fascinating design — rather than give you exactly what you’re looking for, it tries to surprise you.

How does it do this? By up-ranking web sites that are text-heavy, and downranking ones that are highly visual, loaded with modern web cruft, and SEO-optimized.

The upshot, as the creator suggests, is that you wind up with a lot of weird results very different from the usual fare coughed up by Google or Bing or even DuckDuckGo. Marginalia is doing …

… in a sense the opposite of…

Jeff Bezos — Source

Space has always felt like the final frontier for humans. But after billionaire turned it into a destination for tourists, it started to appear within reach. And so, one can’t help but wonder: What’s next?

“Given our past record and our current values, humanity’s next targets are likely to be immortality, happiness and divinity,” Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his book Homo Deus. “We will now aim to overcome old age and even death itself.”

The prediction Harari made in 2015 turned out to be exactly right. Becoming Godlike or Homo Deus has entered the agenda of the world’s richest…

Photo by on Unsplash

Social media is where the world comes together, where everyone from the Pope to the grocery store clerk, and the megawatt pop-star to the Uber driver can share their thoughts equally.

Except nothing is equal. The status we have in real life (IRL) carries through to our digital ones. And it’s not subtle. Verified tags instantly let you know who on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and other platforms are important people. No longer are we all just humans chatting on social. We’re normals engaging with celebrities, politicians, popstars, and Presidents.

What is true is that we can all make the…

Historical engraving, public domain via Internet Archive

Earlier this month, Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence company OpenAI released Codex, a new system that automatically writes software code using only simple prompts written in plain language. Codex is based on GPT-3, a revolutionary deep learning platform that OpenAI trained on nearly all publicly available written text produced by humanity through 2019.

As an early Beta tester, I’ve had extensive opportunities to put both GPT-3 and Codex through their paces. The most frequent question I’m asked about Codex is “Will this replace human programmers?” …


The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store