Roundup: They're trying to build a city again

Stay tuned to the end for the resurrection of a bad idea

Roundup: They're trying to build a city again

With the Ronan Farrow piece published on Elon Musk last week (find it in Recommended reads!), I wonder how many people learned a lot of new things about the billionaire’s past and present they didn’t previously realize. When I read through it, most of the details were things I was already familiar with, but I’ve also been writing about the guy for years. Sometimes I have to remind myself that not everyone knows Musk’s story as well as I do, and the more they do, hopefully the quicker he’ll be demystified and fall from grace!

I’m writing you from South Korea, after a long day of flying from Montreal. I know a lot of people hate them, but part of me loves long flights. Sure, they’re exhausting, but no matter what is happening in the rest of the world, for those ten to fifteen hours you’re in a metal tube way up in the sky where you can read, write, and think without distraction — well, as long as you don’t have an annoying seat mate. I know wifi is making its way into planes — in some it’s free, in others they still charge — but I almost want it to be banned. It’s so rare to find a space without the internet today and I think we should have more of them.

Anyway, plane thoughts aside, I’m in town for a workshop at Korea Global Adaptation Week to hopefully have some fruitful discussions about the climate crisis, especially after the wild year we’ve had so far. If there’s anything of note, I’ll report back before heading to Japan next week.

As a result, I don’t have much commentary to make this week besides a little exhaustion about a late-breaking story I caught a day or two ago. I was going to expand on something else, but decided to keep it for a full issue later this week or next — it needed more space than the roundup.

I will say though, if you want a great discussion about the history of AI criticism in a moment of AI hype, I highly recommend the conversation I had with Ben Tarnoff this week on Tech Won’t Save Us. We talk all about Joseph Weizenbaum, the chatbot he made in the 1960s, and how it turned him into a lifelong critic of AI and computation.

‎Tech Won’t Save Us: AI Criticism Has a Decades-Long History w/ Ben Tarnoff on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Tech Won’t Save Us, Ep AI Criticism Has a Decades-Long History w/ Ben Tarnoff - Aug 24, 2023

With that said, there’s still some great recommended reads, labor updates, and other news in this week’s roundup! Plus, a fun little jab at a dumb rumored tech product at the end. And if you become a paid subscriber to get access, you’ll also be helping me keep putting this newsletter together every week.

Have a great one!