(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘accident

“Speed is carrying us along, but we have yet to master it”*…

Kitchen #26 (2021) by Samuel Richardson

A call to contemplate the potential negative effects of internet technology along with its promise…

Conversations about technology tend to be dominated by an optimistic faith in technological progress, and headlines about new technologies tend to be peppered with deterministic language assuring readers of all the wonderful things these nascent technologies “will” do once they arrive. There is endless encouragement to think about all of the exciting benefits to be enjoyed if everything goes right, but significantly less attention is usually paid to the ways things might go spectacularly wrong.

In the estimation of philosopher Paul Virilio, the refusal to seriously contemplate the chance of failure can have calamitous effects. As he evocatively put it in 1997’s Open Sky, “Unless we are deliberately forgetting the invention of the shipwreck in the invention of the ship or the rail accident in the advent of the train, we need to examine the hidden face of new technologies, before that face reveals itself in spite of us.” Virilio’s formulation is a reminder that along with new technologies come new types of dangerous technological failures. It may seem obvious today that there had never been a car crash before the car was invented, but what future wrecks are being overlooked today amidst the excited chatter about AI, the metaverse, and all things crypto?

Virilio’s attention to accidents is a provocation to look at technology differently. To foreground the dangers instead of the benefits, and to see ourselves as the potential victims instead of as the smiling beneficiaries. As he put it in Pure War, first published in 1983, “Every technology produces, provokes, programs a specific accident.” Thus, the challenge becomes looking for the “accident” behind the technophilic light show — and what’s more, to find it before the wreckage starts to pile up. 

Undoubtedly, this is not the most enjoyable way to look at technology. It is far more fun to envision yourself enjoying the perfect meal prepared for you by your AI butler than to imagine yourself caught up in a Kafkaesque nightmare after the AI system denies your loan application. Nevertheless, if Virilio was right to observe that “the invention of the highway was the invention of 300 cars colliding in five minutes,” it would be wise to start thinking seriously about the crashes that await us as we accelerate down the information superhighway… 

The work of Paul Virilio urges us to ask: What future disasters inhere in today’s technologies? “Inventing the Shipwreck” from Zachary Loeb (@libshipwreck) in @_reallifemag. Eminently worth reading in full.

For a look at those who don’t just brush aside Virilio’s caution, but actively embrace speed and the chaos that it can cause:

Accelerationism holds that the modern, Western democratic state is so mired in corruption and ineptitude that true patriots should instigate a violent insurrection to hasten its destruction to allow a new, white-dominated order to emerge. Indeed, some of the foremost exponents of accelerationism today were at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. They included: the Oath Keepers, whose grab-bag ideology states that “paranoid anti-federalism envision[s] a restoration of ‘self-government’ and ‘natural rights’;” QAnon adherents, who remain convinced that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and that former President Donald Trump was thwarted from saving the world from a Satan-worshipping pedophilia ring run by Democrats, Jews, and other agents of the deep state; and, of course, Trump’s own die-hard “Stop the Steal” minions, who, against all reason and legal proof, seek to restore the former president to office.

The objective of accelerationism is to foment divisiveness and polarization that will induce the collapse of the existing order and spark a second civil war…

Read the full piece: “A Year After January 6, Is Accelerationism the New Terrorist Threat?

* Paul Virilio

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As we practice prudence, we might recall that it was on this date in 1854 that Anthony Fass, a Philadelphia piano maker, was awarded the first U.S. patent (#11062) for an accordion.  (An older patent existed in Europe, issued in Vienna in 1829 to Cyrill Demian.)

“Music helps set a romantic mood. Imagine her surprise when you say, ‘We don’t need a stereo – I have an accordion’.”  – Martin Mull

“A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.”  – Tom Waits

accordion_patent

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“Demographics are destiny”*…

And demographics can help us shape our destiny…

The research seemed straightforward: Analyze 2020 death records in Minnesota and, among other things, quantify which deaths were attributable to Covid-19 in various slices of the population — young and old, black and white, people living in advantaged versus disadvantaged neighborhoods.

But when University of Minnesota demographer Elizabeth Wrigley-Field began to dig in, the numbers revealed complex trends.

The records showed that last year more Minnesotans — especially non-whites — died at home than in a typical year, having avoided hospitals because of the pandemic. Such deaths were almost never reported as Covid-related, even though many probably were. The analysis suggested that Covid deaths in minority groups were going underreported.

It’s the sort of intriguing finding that is likely to percolate to the surface more frequently as researchers study Covid-19 from a population — or demographic — perspective.

Soon after the pandemic hit, demographers leaped into action. Today, there are studies afoot to examine a broad swath of inquiry: from questions about life expectancy to whether school closures really averted infections to how a single Covid death affects surviving family members’ physical and mental health. Even the relationship between exercise habits and social-distancing trends in US counties is under scrutiny…

A sample of the findings that could– and surely should– shape the future of public health: “Demographers tackle Covid-19,” from Eryn Brown (@TheErynBrown).

[Via David Kotok]

* Arthur Kemp, Peter Peterson, Bill Campbell, and many others

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As we count on counting, we might recall that it was on this date in 1896 that the U.K. recorded its first automotive fatality. While on a terrace in the grounds of Crystal Palace, London, Mrs. Bridget Driscoll was knocked down by a car owned by the Anglo-French Motor Car (Roger-Benz) Company that was giving demonstration rides to the public, driven by employee Arthur Edsell. It was said that he was talking to the young lady passenger beside him. He had had been driving for only 3 weeks, and had tampered with a belt to cause the car to travel faster than the 4 mph to which it was meant to be limited. After a six-hour inquest, the jury’s verdict was “Accidental Death,” and no prosecution resulted against the driver or the company. The first car-driver crash fatality in Britain occurred in 1898.

Mrs. Driscoll, circled

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 17, 2021 at 1:00 am

“I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon”*…

 

 

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U.S. coffee consumption peaked around 1950, then declined dramatically– displaced, largely, by soft drinks, 8 of the top ten selling of which are loaded with caffeine…

With protagonists like Monsanto and Coca Cola, it’s a tale with which to conjure.

Read more at “The buzz(kill) about caffeine.”

* Ronald Reagan

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As we top up our cups, we might recall that it was in this date in 1896 that the first pedestrian was killed by a motor car in Great Britain.  A Benz automobile, being demonstrated on the grounds of the Crystal Place, struck Mrs. Bridgette Driscoll, who died minutes later of head injuries.  Though the driver, Arthur James Edsall, was accused of tampering with the governor (which was meant to hold the car’s top speed to 4 miles per hour) and of being distracted as he drove by conversation with the young woman who was his passenger, a Coroner’s Inquest return a verdict of accidental death.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

The Vice President will see you now…

A firearms instructor accidentally shot a student while teaching a gun-safety class on Saturday in Fairfield County [Ohio] to people seeking permits to carry concealed weapons.

Terry J. Dunlap Sr., who runs a shooting range and training center at 6995 Coonpath Rd. near Lancaster, was demonstrating a handgun when he fired a .38-caliber bullet that ricocheted off a desk and into student Michael Piemonte’s right arm.

Dunlap, 73, also is a long-time Violet Township trustee who is running for re-election in November.

Yesterday, Piemonte said he feels lucky, and it could have been worse.

He and his wife, Allison, both 26 and residents of Pataskala in Licking County, attended the daylong concealed-carry class together.

“My wife was sitting just inches away from me,” he said. “It could have easily hit her.”

Dunlap apparently didn’t know that the gun was loaded, Piemonte said — “That’s my guess”…

Read the full story in The Columbus Dispatch, and here (from whence, the photo above).

Oh, and as Gawker reports, a Republican state senator in Arkansas who is leading a legislative committee on the subject of giving guns to school teachers accidentally shot a teacher during an “active shooter” drill earlier this year.

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As we load and lock, we might recall that it was on this date in 1971 that John Lennon and Yoko Ono landed in New York City, having left London in the aftermath of the break-up of the Beatles.  They took up residence at the Dakota, near what’s now known as “Strawberry Fields,” two years later.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 3, 2013 at 1:01 am

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