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Options April 4, 2022: Justin E. H. Smith, author, "The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is"

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Today: Justin E. H. Smith, author, "The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is"

Links:

The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, a Philosophy, a Warning, by Justin E. H. Smith (Princeton University Press)

Justin E. H. Smith's Hinternet - Justin's Substack newsletter

The Very Possibility of Nuclear War - blog column by Justin (March 19, 2022) – mentioned during the interview

What Is X?, Justin's podcast with The Point magazine

• Justin's first appearance on Techtonic: the May 27, 2019 episode, speaking about his book Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason

The Internet Is Not as New as You Think (by Justin in WIRED, March 3, 2022) – an excerpt of his book

Russia's Killer Drone in Ukraine Raises Fears About AI in Warfare (Wired, March 17, 2022): "The maker of the lethal drone claims that it can identify targets using artificial intelligence."

• Wikipedia links on Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), German polymath mathematician, philosopher, scientist, and diplomat; and Marcel Proust (1871-1922), French novelist and author of In Search of Lost Time

Slices for Devices: this Saturday, April 9, in Manhattan: "This event will allow customers to exchange their old technology for pizza and cash, located at Zazzy’s Pizza Lower East Side, from 12 to 6 p.m." (Thanks to listener Herb from the Lower East Side Ecology Center)

Amazon Workers on Staten Island Vote to Unionize in Landmark Win for Labor (NYT, Apr 1, 2022)

• Happy National Poetry Month.

PAST EPISODES: techtonic.fm lists recent Techtonic shows.

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Artist Track Images Approx. start time
  Justin Smith, author, "The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is"
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options
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  Mark's intro  
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0:01:30 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
  Interview with Justin E. H. Smith  
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0:03:55 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
  Mark's comments  
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0:39:45 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
Colin Potter  The State   Options
Options
0:54:53 (MP3 | Pop‑up)


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Listener comments!

Avatar 6:01pm (Murakami Whywolf))):

Well, I do know that it's a lot worse since they started letting _anyone_ on it.
Avatar 🤖 6:01pm Bas NL:

Hi Mark & all!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm ultradamno:

Mark! Techtonetizens!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:02pm listener james from westwood:

Evening, Mark and all!

I'm told the internet is a series of tubes, on which one can listen to the Tubes.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:02pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Hi, Mark and technokians. If the internet is not a series of tubes, then I don't know what it is.
  6:02pm David in London:

Evening Mark and all Technoids.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:03pm DjLorraine:

I'm techin in. Hi all
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:04pm melinda:

hi friends
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:04pm Webhamster Henry:

Hi Mark & Friends! No organ harvesting this week please.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:04pm Wendy del Formaggio:

Ooh ooh! I'm psyched for today's interview! I saw the title of this book recently and found myself intrigued. AND, hello, everyone! :-)
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:05pm chresti:

Hi Mark and tonictrons!
  6:06pm P-90:

Liebniz!
Avatar 6:07pm Fredericks:

Hello Techtites. Hurstarians?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:08pm Mark Hurst:

Hi all, thanks for joining in this evening!
Avatar 6:08pm (((Murakami Whywolf):

Pop[-ish]-culture reference: Voltaire's Dr Pangloss is a broad satire and misunderstanding of Leibniz.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:08pm Mark Hurst:

@Murakami bingo - keep listening :)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:08pm Mark Hurst:

@Webham no worries on that point tonight...
Avatar 6:09pm (Murakami Whywolf))):

Don't forget Vannevar Bush's 'Memex' machine.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm Mark Hurst:

@Murakami - no Vannevar Bush in this interview, but Norbert Wiener may get a mention...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm ultradamno:

I had my money on when Hedy Lamarr invented Bluetooth
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:11pm Will the Sound Guy:

hi Mark and all!!!
  6:12pm P-90:

Liebniz was the guy who spent years laboriously developing the basics of what we call Calculus. Then he visited the much younger Issac Newton to discuss stuff, and noticed some papers on Newtons desk which were covered with calculus equations. Shaken, he asked somethings like “er… what is this…?” To which Newton said something like “oh those are just some mathematics I threw together to solve some problems I was interested in…”
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm Mark Hurst:

@Will welcome!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:13pm Stillwell Coney Islander:

Hi Mark & everyone
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:13pm PaulRobeson1920:

Good evening all!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:14pm Mark Hurst:

@StillwellCI @PaulR welcome!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:15pm ultradamno:

By the way, Elon Musk owns Twitter now...and his wife admitted to criminal DDoS attacks, next week?
Avatar 6:15pm Fredericks:

Romans had a similar opportunity through the use of slaves.
  6:15pm P-90:

THAT was the original idea: that computers and automation would free people to have more time and energy to do the things that computers and automation CAN’T do.
  6:16pm P-90:

Word of the Day: hortatory
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:17pm Webhamster Henry:

Back in the 80s when I was workng for a database reporting/maint company , the revelation for companies converting to automated decision making workflows was that a computer report doesn't have a signature, thus disconnecting from the all important blame assignment that is inherent in all business transactions.
  6:17pm P-90:

(no boys, NOT “whoretatory”)
Avatar 6:18pm (((Murakami Whywolf):

Leibniz's notation was better and his rationale a little better expressed. Newton was a little like the Bruce Lee of calculus: he invented a great system, but to a certain extent it wasn't a good fit for people below his level of brilliance. (I write as someone who hasn't heard of a Jeet Kun Do master _since_ Mr Lee.)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:18pm ultradamno:

Though I think that's an establishment in the Reno area
  6:18pm Erin in TO:

If only humanity lived up to the hope and ideals of great thinkers
Avatar 6:19pm Fredericks:

I had a conversation with a guy a while back about computers freeing people up. I said, I thought we'd get more art. He said he thought people would just get drunk.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm Franco Twinkie:

I'm lying in bed and a robot is vacuuming the floor. What the hell is wrong with that?
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:19pm Will the Sound Guy:

I haven't used liebniz's notation in 2 decades...
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:21pm Ken From Hyde Park:

The robot vacuum is sending your home's measurements and layout back to headquarters, Franco.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm Mark Hurst:

@Franco what @KenfHP said. In addition, "benign" robot vacuums normalize the entry of Big Tech devices into the home, making the way for more harmful devices to come after them.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:22pm Will the Sound Guy:

Franco and Ken HP... It very well could be mapping for apartment destruction...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm Franco Twinkie:

Uh oh. I knew it was to good to be true.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm ultradamno:

If they can't figure out the layout of my house from the outside, the robots have done more damage to them
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:23pm Webhamster Henry:

The iRobot is analyzing your dust and will be cloning a better you from off cast hair and skin flakes.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:24pm Franco Twinkie:

Refer to the Gumby cartoon where he gets robots to do the yardwork.
  6:25pm P-90:

I loved Gumby’s robots! Still do.
  6:25pm Awwwww:

You kids were born in 1972?

Pre oil shock. We share that
  6:26pm Old Dave:

Born in 1960 and vaguely recall my dad built some silly cinder block thing in our Appleton Wisconsin basement. I don't think 1972 and forward was that frantic, Mark.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:28pm chresti:

Gumby knows the secrets of the universe.
  6:28pm The Butterman:

Franco, Robot Rumpus is the episode. Go go Gumby!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:28pm Franco Twinkie:

I was getting stoned in my high school parking lot in 1972.
Avatar 6:28pm Mister Dobalina:

The Hurst is strong tonight..as usual...show after show.
  6:28pm P-90:

I’m intrigued. He got from Liebniz to Norbert Weiner in part 1. But does John von Neumann come up? We’ll see…
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:29pm Mark Hurst:

@P-90 von Neumann doesn't come up, though yes a relevant figure
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:29pm Mark Hurst:

@Mister Dobalina thanks
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:30pm Ken From Hyde Park:

¡The robot vacuum literally has the dirt on you, Franco!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:30pm melinda:

I've always thought simulation theory seemed wack but never heard of angelology, this is interesting
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:31pm Mark Hurst:

@KenfHP that vacuum joke really sucks
  6:31pm Awwwww:

Honest never got into that -/:;(());:/- big kabloowy nonsense re Cold War jazz.

Dug the old CivilDefense radiation detritus tho

Duckncover asif

My memories were body counts on the network newsnewses ChetbrinckleyRogerKsmithwaltercronkriter style
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:32pm melinda:

This reminds me of some writings on how our models of the brain reflect current technology
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:32pm Mark Hurst:

@melinda 100%
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:32pm Franco Twinkie:

I've got dirt on myself Ken. That's because I'm a filthy hippie.
  6:32pm Awwwww:

But close.

Reagan was your more successful Nixon I guess

Brrrr
  6:33pm The Spatula Elite:

Hey, you never know
  6:33pm Sam:

The Universe IS a spatula, Mark. At least according to the grand theory of pan-cakism.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:34pm Webhamster Henry:

It started with "The world is a shadow on a cave wall", the image tech of the day.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:34pm WR:

Reinforcing Kant's insistence on the limits of our ability to perceive.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm ultradamno:

If we're talking about one of those big ones, for flipping omelettes and pancakes, well...obviously.
Avatar 6:34pm (Murakami Whywolf))):

'Wisdom' is a bit subjective—no, I'm wrong, it's an _intensely_ subjective judgement. Even something as simple as 'knowing how to use knowledge to make people happy' fails when we remember that, for example, there are at least an hundred million people who consider people 'unhappy' if they are in committed homosexual relationships (I omitted 'loving' because these people believe that 'real' love in that sort of relationship were not possible.)

(See: start backing away slowly when someone's argument is 'Well, _that_’s not [a ]REAL <X>.' for some value of X.)
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:34pm melinda:

@web henry good point
  6:36pm yippie:

john harrison the clock maker made clocks so great they helped sailors discover islands. this is how the mutiny on the bounty succeeded. these clocks were the quantum computers of the era
  6:37pm Sam:

Well, to be fair, Descartes considered the fact that we could be living in a simulation of some kind. Everything could be an illusion - except for thought. Thought has to be a real thing since it’s the only thing we know for sure that we experience. Thus: I think therefore I am.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Mark Hurst:

@yippie "Longitude" by Dava Sobel tells the story of John Harrison - really interesting: en.wikipedia.org...
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:38pm PaulRobeson1920:

@Franco Twinkie: you know, you must take a look at the new land, the swimming pool and the teeth of your friend, the Dirt in my hand…you know, you must take a look at me. Baby, Baby, I know that’s the way…
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm Mark Hurst:

@Sam the Cartesian mind/body split has gotten a lot of pushback from contemporary critics
  6:40pm The Spatula Elite:

“Longitude” is an important book
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm ultradamno:

Well, anyone who has thought about how they think when ill or inebriated vs well or sober sees the challenge.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm Mark Hurst:

I want to determine longitude with a spatula
  6:41pm Sam:

Oh yes I know, since modern medicine tells us everything is physically explained. But I think this simulation theory plays right into Descartes’ intuitions.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm Franco Twinkie:

Paul, I am nothing if not a seer. Problem is, I'm also very lazy. I like to gaze into the clouds and pontificate, but I'm not that good at opening the mail.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm Mark Hurst:

@Sam yes
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm ultradamno:

This might be the actual start of the internet twitter.com...
Avatar 6:42pm (((Murakami Whywolf):

Attention is considered worthwhile only because have mass production as our most efficient manufacturing mode, mass consumption the dominant mode of consumption, and democracy, at least ostensibly, our basis for the proper distribution of power.

I'm saying that it could be worse: in a society with an even _worse_ power distribution, only the attention of the men [probably, mostly] on the Central Committee or in the House of Peers would matter.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:43pm gauche knee:

enjoying the convo & talk in comments but closing the page because my attention is being split 3 ways and attending to none.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:43pm melinda:

@Franco I'm good at cloud gazing too
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm Franco Twinkie:

Melinda, I can talk clouds all day. Just don't ask me where my check book is.
Avatar 6:45pm arb:

There's a character named Spatula in the novel The Broom Of The System, hi Spatula elite!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:45pm common:

Your guests and interviews are always interesting and distressing, mark. Thanks
  6:45pm PJ:

I read all of In Search of Lost Time on the subway. It was hard for me to get into initially - pages and pages on wallpaper or dresses or floral arrangements - but once I pushed through that, I really looked forward to my 90 minute conversation with Proust each day (I let Marcel do all the talking.)
  6:46pm yippie:

you know where i can get a smartspatula that will text me when its time to flip my burger?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:46pm ultradamno:

I think a whisk is more the model than spatula
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:46pm WR:

If you are a hammer everything is either a nail or a receptacle of a nail.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:47pm ultradamno:

Stop with the sexy talk
  6:47pm P-90:

To return to a well-worn point that just seems to bore everyone these days: ALL of these tech problems, economic problems, energy problems, etc. get a lot better when the human population finally comes down.
On a planet with half as many people, all of these things are leas threatening and more manageable.
  6:47pm PJ:

Marcel was not only very funny, but he is one of the most perceptive authors I have read about human behavior, and in particular the distance between our intentions and what we actually do. And how we consistently undermine our desires.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:48pm Franco Twinkie:

To a hammer every problem looks like a nail is the way I heard it WR.
  6:48pm ?:

Now read Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time. Twelve volumes.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:49pm ultradamno:

To a nail every nightmare is of a hammer
Avatar 6:49pm (Murakami Whywolf))):

See Douglas Adams' 'babelfish', responsible for countless wars by allowing intelligent beings to understand each other better.
  6:49pm Sam:

With putin in charge you’re probably better off with no humans in the loop. Computers would be less cruel and illogically sadistic.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:50pm Webhamster Henry:

The Postal System will solve everything!
  6:50pm P-90:

For a while it seemed the Salad Shooter might challenge the spatula as an ultimate metaphor, but that moment passed uneventfully.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm Franco Twinkie:

Semantics won't fix the roof or hang a picture.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm ultradamno:

I don't know, I've heard six hours of AI jazz. There is no logic to that cruelty twitter.com...
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:51pm PaulRobeson1920:

S.A.M -The Wake & Bake Morning Music Computer- will have your head in the shock docket soon, Sam.
  6:51pm PJ:

Contra Justin Smith, I think Voltaire had Leibniz's number on the application of his philosophy to the real world. Candide is a travelogue through the man-made horrors of the Enlightenment and colonialism.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:51pm coelacanth∅:

Mark are you genuinely unaware that the us has used human-less drones to kill people for over 10 years?
(probably FAR longer than 10 years)
  6:51pm Sam:

Yeah, I’m his natural rival
Avatar 6:51pm arb:

yessssss
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm Franco Twinkie:

In Pasadena there is a 1950's dingbat apartment building called The Voltaire. It's painted neither red nor black.
Avatar 6:54pm Jeff Moore:

Okay, fine. Time for me to pick _À la recherche du temps perdu_ back up and and push through it for real this time.

Maybe I need to admit to myself that it just ain't gonna happen if I keep trying to do it in French – decoding a language in which I'm not really fluent as part of the reading process is just an unreasonable barrier to try to surmount at this time – and I just need to identify a good English translation to read. Recommendations?
  6:54pm Bea:

Tech philosophy - Proust - poetry! Love this mix, Mark!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:54pm melinda:

@P-90 true about lower population making things easier. Pointing this out is quite controversial with many folks, though, since population control has a grim history.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:54pm Bobby:

Feels good in here. As usual.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:54pm ultradamno:

Isn't that the guy who wrote that movie where Sylvia Kristel banged a woodsman?
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:54pm melinda:

@Franco I love that there is an architecture called dingbat
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:55pm PaulRobeson1920:

A thing oriented society Or a People oriented society


We are moving towards a loving society!
A loving society is achievable & a worthy goal

Little to win but nothing to lose
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:55pm Franco Twinkie:

No, its a movie called Weekend by Goddard.
Avatar 6:55pm (((Murakami Whywolf):

coelacanth∅:
Are you referring to autonomous drones?—I had thought that all the drone killings for which I (and other U.S. tax-payers) had paid were still directed by humans).
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm ultradamno:

Two words, one d
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:56pm WR:

Thank you Mark.
  6:57pm P-90:

“To Sylvia Kristel, every woodsman is a nail to be banged”
Avatar 6:57pm arb:

Love poetry month on Techtonic!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:57pm chresti:

That's great, thanks Mark and Justin!
  6:57pm wendy del formaggio:

Hear hear! Rock on, ALU!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm ultradamno:

Until she found a machine that could do the job
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Franco Twinkie:

Thanks Mark. Brilliant and frightening as usual.
  6:57pm PJ:

@Jeff Moore: I read the revised Moncrieff translation and enjoyed it a lot.
Avatar 6:58pm (Murakami Whywolf))):

PaulRobeson1920:
People like things, maybe even love some things—and for tens of millennia have survived only with the use of things. I just don't see the dichotomy.

I see a sort of puritanism in insisting that people not enjoy things; perhaps my autism has some bearing on that…I've enjoyed the isolation of the last couple of years.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:58pm Will the Sound Guy:

thank you Mark, Justin, and all!!! Be well everyone!!!
Avatar 6:58pm Jeff Moore:

Thanks, @PJ!
  6:58pm Vertual:

Thanks for expanding my mind Mark. Great stuff.
Avatar 🤖 6:58pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark & Justin!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:58pm joe mulligan:

I coulda sworn a few months back I heard in another state the Az employees unionized - was it Ohio? Great show Mark!
  6:58pm PJ:

Thanks Mark!
  6:58pm P-90:

Thank GOD we didn’t have time for the Proust translation debate
Avatar 6:59pm Jeff Moore:

@P-90: Next week!
  6:59pm Cassettivity:

Is there a unanimous Techtonic blessed gmail alternative?
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:59pm joe mulligan:

maybe it was Alabama and they lost the second vote?
  7:00pm P-90:

Tres bien alors. Thanks Mark!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Thanks, Mark. Look out for stray internet!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone, great conversation this evening!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm coelacanth∅:

Murakami some targets have been dictated by information fed by humans; humans aren't involved with the decision to kill when the target is identified. at least one mistake has been made.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 7:01pm melinda:

@Cassevity protonmail is one
  7:01pm Cassettivity:

@melinda thank you!
  10:32pm be11ows:

hey nice reading, great show
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