Discover more from Steady Beats | Matt Tillotson
The Mix Tape, Vol. 67
Welcome to this week’s Mix:
🛰How the U.S. military buys location data
🧠Reaching maximum human bandwidth
✝️What the rationalistic world forgot
🎮The fight to find the Playstation 5
How the U.S. Military Buys Location Data
We know Facebook, Google, and others Hoover up your personal data to share with advertisers. But now comes a story from Vice about how the U.S. military buys personal location data:
The U.S. military is buying the granular movement data of people around the world, harvested from innocuous-seeming apps, Motherboard has learned.
The news highlights the opaque location data industry and the fact that the U.S. military, which has infamously used other location data to target drone strikes, is purchasing access to sensitive data.
The location data flows through several entities before the military acquires it.
This is done in the name of “national security,” of course.
Navy Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a U.S. Special Operations Command spokesperson, confirmed the Locate X purchase, and added "Our access to the software is used to support Special Operations Forces mission requirements overseas. We strictly adhere to established procedures and policies for protecting the privacy, civil liberties, constitutional and legal rights of American citizens."
But most people have no idea the military may be interested in tracking your whereabouts. And we can give it up, unknowingly, when we agree to to those endless user agreements.
Reaching maximum human bandwidth
You may have read about The Singularity, a theoretical evolutionary stage when man will merge with computers, our brains and the internet directly connected.
It’s sort of assumed man will reach this stage, some day.
But Brian Rommelle feels that day is never coming, because human consciousness has data limits:
Your consciousness, the live perception of reality has a limit of how much data and information can be processed into your perception.
[…] This limit has been studied for over 150 years across 100s of studies.
Rommelle’s counter-theory states that consciousness can’t be expanded. We are limited by biology. A direct computer-brain interface would be like aiming a firehouse at a pinhole.
A direct brain interface that fills the human bandwidth channel is maximized to 41 bits per second will be all that any of will take and at that point nothing else will be conscious to us.
You rarely see pushback to the idea that “The Singularity” is inevitable. Turns out the best argument against it may be biological, not technical.
What the rationalistic world forgot
What has rationality, and the dismissal of religion, mythology and good old-fashioned gut instinct cost us?
Rationality has so thoroughly soaked the earth that even those who call themselves religious have persuaded themselves to experience religion through a purely rationalist lens.
A well-honed intuition comes not just from personal experience, but the consumption of stories:
To sustain the amount of experience needed to develop intuition, you must consume stories, take in all manner of literature, myths, and fables. In earlier times, everyone had a mythological education. More visual media does not have the same effect: TV is so pernicious because unlike other storytelling mediums, it almost never asks you to think, it asks only for your attention.
The author doesn't make an argument against rationality. But rather that stories, religion, and intuition complement and improve rationality.
When we rely only on rationality, our thinking veers off course:
Fake data is rampant in every field, most egregiously nutrition and health, which has for sixty years repackaged flawed research as public health guidelines, prompting mass diet changes that continue to kill millions.
When science suffers, we all suffer.
Today’s scientists do not need better tools, they need to rent a dumpster. Hiring thousands of science janitors would be a better use of research funding than adding a single new paper to a mountain of research that is already half fraudulent.
A pervasive feeling exists today that “progress” has drifted off-course—even though we strongly disagree on solutions.
This article may be on to something as to why that drift has occurred. We ignore our shared mythologies at our own peril.
The fight to find the Playstation 5
The Playstation 5 is here, allegedly. No one can actually seem to find one.
Much of the blame has been placed on “bots,” computer programs scalpers use to buy the game consoles the instant a retailer makes them available online.
Scalpers then resell the units on the secondary market — eBay and other places — at 2X and more above the retail price.
But a Facebook group called CrepChiefNotify, which charges a membership fee to help people find and resell scarce products, has piled up 3,500 Playstation 5s with no automation at all:
The real chaos started on release day. Once again, we prepped the group, informed everyone of the potential, and was ready on go. The day came and members had feasted, 2472 consoles secured on the day, not with bots as the media is portraying, all manual. Sure we have the advantage with our knowledge and monitors, but thats just being prepared.
Sony called the Playstation 5 its “biggest launch ever,” but was it really successful if most of the consoles are stockpiled in basements and garages, awaiting heavily marked-up resale?
I’m old enough to remember when people had good old-fashioned fistfights to get a Cabbage Patch Kid under the tree for Christmas.
Now that was skin in the game.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
Please hit reply if you have questions, comments, or open rebuttals. (Or just want to say hi.)