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


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No One’s Driving

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Welcome to No One’s Driving, a column by novelist and tech writer Tim Maughan about how to understand a world governed by systems and technologies that are spiraling out of control.

As I write this, I have an extra tab open in my browser, which has been open all week…

Image courtesy of the author

Ten years ago I spoke at a Marketing Technology (aka “martech”) event that was held at the fancy New York Times auditorium; a famous Harvard economist was the keynote speaker.

Although his remarks weren’t long, they certainly made an impression on me. I’ve held onto what he said and have…

Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

As the hedge fund billionaires suffering catastrophic losses in the r/WallStreetBets activist campaign now realize, we reap what we sow. Even more so in a digital age.

Norbert Wiener tried to warn us way back in the 1950s that digital technologies would be cybernetic in nature. They do not function…

Pattern Matching

Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Welcome back to Pattern Matching, OneZero’s weekly newsletter that puts the week’s most compelling tech stories in context.

On April 14, 1994, the CEOs of the seven big American tobacco firms sat side by side, facing a Congressional subcommittee hearing on their products’ health impacts. Rep. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, asked…

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

In late 2018, as part of a photo series on the future of work, I became a driver for Doordash.

The experience gave me a unique glimpse into America’s foodways and the realities of the gig economy. It was simultaneously illuminating, concerning — and at times surprisingly fulfilling. With Covid-19…

Illustrations: Arne Bellstorf

“We have nothing to sell besides physical touch.” The thought jarred Amber Briggle awake some nights. It kept her from eating in the first week of the Covid-19 shutdown when she lost six pounds fretting over the sudden collapse of the business she’d built up her “entire adult life.”


Image: zf L/Getty Images

Human history is a long saga of people learning to harness ever-increasing amounts of energy to maintain ever more complex, ordered systems, punctuated by periodic collapses. …

Photo: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

Aaron Bastani is the author of Fully Automated Luxury Communism, published by Verso Books.

As the 2020s got underway, citizens around the world faced a panoply of crises: a broken economic model, political stagnation, climate change, and demographic aging. In isolation, each presents a historic challenge, necessitating a shift in…

Illustrations: Amanda Berglund

Bua Vanitsthian says she’s always been passionate about food. In 2019, Vanitsthian, a forensic economist and professional bikini athlete, opened Chicken as Cluck, a fried chicken restaurant on the edge of San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood.

It’s not a restaurant in any conventional sense, however. As a “ghost kitchen,” the…

Michael Brill of San Francisco needed lemons.

He was going to pick up some 15-year-old sourdough starter that a neighbor had offered on Nextdoor, and he wanted to bring something in return. The lemons from another neighbor’s lemon tree might work, he thought, but then he’d need to offer that…


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