Hello — it's finally happened, we've hit a Horrific (🤮) week in tech. Why?
At the time of writing, Donald Trump still has an active Twitter account; kicking him out for 12 hours was an incredibly bad move — laughable (or cryable?) at best. Twitter, Trump's favourite platform, look sillier and sillier as others buckle under Democratic political pressure (a new president, a new senate! Suddenly the water seems safer, doesn't it? Cowards), and ban Trump or related content. The platforms doing this include Facebook, TikTok, Shopify, and Twitch.
I hope this week's installation of Horrific/Terrific distracts you from real life for at least five minutes. The events from Wednesday will not feature again in this email.
What you have to look forward to:
- I collaborated with GPT-3 to design a very cool toilet
- Financial surveillance, disguised as regulation
- Google employees think they have power. Do they? Let's find out...
🎵👛 The sound of virtual coins dropping on the floor
Good news everyone! The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (sounds made up but is real) wants to try and REGULATE cryptocurrencies. I have one thing to say to this: no.
A financial services company called Square has voiced their concerns. Here's something that makes this issue of Horrific/Terrific ever more horrific: I agree with the financial services company.
The 'regulation' — or rather: new key component of the US surveillance network — will "require cryptocurrency service providers like Square to keep records of and report certain cryptocurrency transaction information far beyond what is required for cash transactions today." That transaction information includes the names and addresses of the people involved in the transaction. I'll say it again: no.
☝️ An argument for why we need this regulation (for balance): to prevent money laundering and drug trafficking etc — all things that you CANNOT DO with real-world money, allegedly...
🔤 The Alphabet Workers Union
About 200 workers at Google are attempting to unionise (just FYI, over 100k people work there). I'm all for having unions, because I am not a monster and am into the idea of people having their human rights upheld while at work (and... in general). However, the fact that this event is newsworthy is incredibly chilling. I can hear you, readers, barking the following questions at your screen and at each other. I have answers...
Why are unions such an alien thing in the tech sector?
- Toxic startup culture (which remains to be a thing in even large tech firms) says — nay — insists: why unionise if you have free food and unlimited holiday? Sounds like you need another go in the wank pod!
Why isn't this happening at Facebook?
- Because Facebook know how to build a company on fear, and fear keeps you very quiet indeed. Why else would one of the most 'innovative' companies in the world store millions of user passwords in plain text, for years? Is it incompetence, or the understanding that if you don't keep your head down and your mouth shut, you will be fired?
Why are people unionising over ethical concerns — why not just quit?
- Because having ‘Google’ on your CV makes you really unhirable... right?
- Another key part of toxic startup culture is being consistently lied to about how democratic your work place is — employees at Google clearly think they can incite change from the inside.
- Those employees are wrong: Google have demonstrated time and time again that the leadership will just do what they want (Dragonfly is a good example). They don't have to care what the workers think; they are quite literally winning at this game we call capitalism.
Why are you being so negative, Georgia?
- Sorry. I cannot stress enough how much I think that unions are generally a good idea
- I am also aware that there are some great organisations out there who use truly progressive structures and processes, with the purpose of being more democratic.
- I must also point out that the Alphabet Workers Union promote 'solidarity, democracy, and social and economic justice'. You surely cannot stand for those things if you choose to work for a company like Google.
And remember: if you quit your job at Google and start campaigning from the outside, Netflix might make a documentary about your ideas, like this very privileged white man who was the FIRST person to vocalise the idea that Google are not that great. Well done white man 👏.
👩🎨 A GPT-3 image spree
We have two shiny new models to play with: DALL-E can create images from text captions and CLIP has learned how to recognise what is in images by looking at existing images on the internet, and their captions. I can think of so many great applications for DALL-E already:
- Procedurally generate illustrations for children's books
- Make an image of yourself TOTALLY JACKED
- Realise your nightmares in crystal clear reproductive media before your very eyes — face your fears
Obviously the way they let you play around with it at the moment is extremely limited so I made a Darth Vader toilet:
I leave you with a 2021 prediction: whatever happens, it's all going to be about 5G (the cause of the virus) and AI (the solution to the virus). Goodbye 👋