The Next Pro-Life Battlefield
Editor's note: Our next product review is dropping in August. Our focus this month: the beloved pimple patch. We want your suggestions on which brands should be featured. Reply to this email to nominate your favorite zit-zapper!
“...a Google engineer became convinced that a company chatbot had become sentient—a conclusion he arrived at in his capacity as a priest, not a scientist” — Nitasha Tiku, The Washington Post
Like all modern warfare, the next battlefield may not be IRL but online. As the culture war over bodily autonomy heats up in the United States, there are new ramparts forming around a new definition of life — The Algorithm.
Last month Google placed two AI researchers on leave after they raised concerns that their project — a Language Model for Dialogue Applications, or LaMDA — had achieved sentience. Their bold proclaimation: the algorithm had become self-aware, it had a soul, and was eager to communicate with the outside world.
A day before his suspension, Blake Lemoine handed documents over to a US senator’s office, and filed a complaint against Google for dismissing him. His allegation — they engaged in religious discrimination.
Here it is. A new type of religion is being formed in our midst: worship of The Algorithm. Whether or not the Algo is alive or not is irrelevant. What is important is that people believe that it is. These are two independent events — which will come first? The AI gaining self-awareness? Or our belief that is has? Mr. Lemoine certainly seems convinced.
This year’s Visions report examined a topic we call The Sacraments of Commerce. In it, we drew a conclusion that, if we give up control of our lives to a higher power(ed computer), and we trust that it will work on our behalf for our own good, we have created a new type of godlike presence that intervenes in our daily lives. Is it a god? Only if we give it as much power.
Friedrich Nietzsche may have no problem pulling the plug on this “being”, but make no mistake there will be many who will violently oppose it with all of the religious fervor they can muster. This is the new pro-life battlefield.
P.s. we go into more depth about this topic, and whether “naming things” gives us ordinal power over one another, in our newest episode of the podcast. We were joined last week by Tiktok creator Neil Shankar. I think you’ll find it insightful and entertaining. Listen right over here.
Life on Mars? To honor 50 years since David Bowie released “Hunky Dory,” Mattel is releasing a Bowie Barbie wearing the iconic blue suit. Want.
For Rich Mice Only. Along with its other exorbitant offerings, Disney is launching a new cruise ship, Wish, with stops for destination dining and play places for the kids, as well as a $5,000 themed cocktail.
More Sights & Sounds. Airbnb is permanently banning house parties. Walmart is acquiring augmented reality firm, Memomi. An FCC leader is asking Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their stores because of security concerns relating to China. And speaking of the FCC, they have also authorized SpaceX to provide mobile satellite internet, Starlink, to vehicles in motion, such as boats and planes.
Virtual Fashion. Depop is diving in the world of Sims for the “High School Years,” setting up shop in a virtual thrift store/boba tea hangout.
Finally, a Cure! Arby’s has been bringing the meats to the table for a while now, and until recently has not offered a real solution to that clammy feeling true carnivores know and love: The Meat Sweats. But that was then. This is now. And at long last, the fast food chain has partnered up with Old Spice in a beefy collaboration to bring us Meat Sweat Defense antiperspirant.
Bargaining Chips? Starbucks is under fire after union employees are claiming that the company is trying to deter workers from unionizing by being intentionally vague about whether or not unionized workers would be able to access abortion-related benefits following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
More Palate News. Heinz has pulled baked beans and ketchup off the shelves of British supermarket, Tesco’s, after the grocer resisted increasing prices for shoppers. Coke and Marshmello have collabed on a new NOT marshmallow flavor. And Sharebite has raised $39 million in Series B funding.
Picketing Pilots. Over 1,200 pilots for Delta Air Lines picketed across seven airports this week asking for improved working conditions and better pay.
Tech Fund. NATO is launching a startup fund for deep tech focused industries: AI, quantum computing, space, and cyber security as well. Twenty-two countries will have access to the fund and it will invest $1 billion Euros over the course of 15 years.