#DataForBlackLives

I’ve been missing for a while. The work from school and research has just been ridiculous this semester and time management is a developing art for me.

Since I’ve been gone we’ve had some interesting developments in our technological lives. From rumors of trade wars, the uncovering of foreign nefarious activities, to shady use of data by politically bent computing firms via social media.

This last point is particularly important in that it hearkens to the aim of this blog. That aim being to take control of our technological lives, getting involved the “The Game” of computing, data science, and AI.

Technological Determinism.

I direct your attention to Data for Black Lives:

Who Owns the Future?

As I have prepared for finals, I took time during my study breaks to finish the book Who Owns the Future by Jaron Lanier. The news cycle relating to economics and politics can be very distracting (addicting) at times. During these times it is necessary for me to get a fresh take on things, especially if it allows me to see a bigger picture. This book does an amazing job of painting a picture of the economic and political landscape of the early 21st century. The issues Lanier raises illuminate some of the seemingly unconnected problems I have been trying to parse. He very adeptly draws the link between the Obamacare debates, and broader issues of the cost of healthcare, the ridiculousness that was the 2016 presidential election cycle, and the apparent shrinking of the middle class. In Jaron’s eyes these problems orbit around the major advances in computing and artificial intelligence.

The paperback version of this book was published in 2014 with some additions to the original version. He scarily predicts our political future as well as theorizing rationally about our present and recent past economic situation. All of this is based on his deep understanding of technological trends relating to Big Data analytics and Artificial Intelligence. As a technologist and futurist, Lanier skillfully exposes problems associated with these technological trends without detracting from their positive impact. Later in the book he theorizes about how to minimize these negative outcomes so that the positive effects of the advancement of technology can be maximized. The solutions he proposes are by no means exhaustive and I’d like to explore and expound on what better solutions may look like.

I encourage everyone to read the book, but below I’ve posted a (short) video of Jaron summarizing his thoughts. He’s an eccentric dude, but his ideas touch on some very important issues.

Afro-Futures

Intros

I don’t really know how to introduce the blog. I’m a crappy writer. I suppose mainly I just wanted to have a place on the web that serves as a repository of ideas and content related to afrofuturism and dope ish.

I’m a physics grad student and founder of a nascent engineering and design firm. I hope to add to the discussion of afrofuturism with an emphasis on technology, design, directed action, and our current state of affairs.

I’ll dive into some math, physics, software development, and engineering to hopefully foster some ideas and projects.


 

This blog is focusing on an understanding of the future from us folks who are still trying to make our way in the world. With that in mind I believe it’s important to have a sense of the practical. The amazing thing about our time right now, is that practical does not equal less amazing.  This, while not being 100% what I’m talking about, at least puts things in the ballpark.

The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto is primarily a philosophical exercise (something I suck at). Many of the materials I’ve found dealing with afrofuturism center around ideas and perspectives. This is where I’d like us (those who contribute to this blog) to differentiate ourselves. No doubt ideas, perspectives, and whatever will be discussed here. This blog would not exist without some sort of discussion of perspectives and ideas. The main thrust, though, is the development of technology to achieve well defined goals and to solve problems (something I suck less at). As a starting point:


  • Computer and information technology has been one of the greatest shapers of society in our time, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
  • In this globalized world, individual achievement and group self determination is not the same as it was in our parents days and probably won’t be ever again.
  • Technology is becoming more accessible but more complicated to understand on a fundamental level.

 

These can be good and bad depending on your personal experiences and preferences.


I see opportunity here (out of necessity), but my views are singular, and narrow and I move towards solutions as I see problems.

I will be posting links to projects and whatnot.

Stay tuned.