Sveinbjörn Þórðarson

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A sign of dystopian things to come

9.8.2017 kl. 12:47 - Sveinbjörn Þórðarson

A sign of dystopian things to come.

Soon enough, we'll have big-data-trained, machine-learning neural networks constantly analysing our credit rating, evaluating our work performance, ranking us in job and school applications, determining if we're fit to have children, and so on.

Ironically, the engineers devising these algorithms will have no real understanding of how they work, only that they meet some abstract performance criteria.

Mark my words: There's going to be lots and lots of incomprehensible and ridiculous "Computer Says No" in coming decades, when the Excel spreadsheet people "optimise" by offloading all bureaucracy and service jobs on to opaque, "authoritative" AIs.

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The Imperial Reflex

3.8.2017 kl. 17:06 - Sveinbjörn Þórðarson

Spot on:

Some British politicians suffer from an imperial reflex, however. For them, Britain lies at the centre of the world. We only have to state our aims and other countries will be generous enough to help us achieve them.

The British have never really accepted the fact that their Empire is gone and that they are now just another European nation, neither particularly rich nor powerful when compared to France and Germany.

True, Britain does outperform its Western European neighbours on several fronts: it is a uniquely miserable, unjust and unequal place thanks to the radical neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years.

Modern Britain is a corrupt, undemocratic financial centre in the Eurozone, burdened with an impoverished, unhappy, overtaxed and unneeded surplus population. And now they're leaving the Eurozone.

The only glimmer of light I can see in this Brexit business is that the consequences are likely to be so bad that it may effect some kind of political change for the better in the long run.

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The eccentrics have been drummed out

12.7.2017 kl. 13:03 - Sveinbjörn Þórðarson

What do we live for?

Academia was, [Graeber] muses, once a haven for oddballs – it was one of the reasons he went into it. “It was a place of refuge. Not any more. Now, if you can’t act a little like a professional executive, you can kiss goodbye to the idea of an academic career.”

Why is that so terrible?

“It means we’re taking a very large percentage of the greatest creative talent in our society and telling them to go to hell … The eccentrics have been drummed out of all institutions.”

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Excellent palindrome

10.7.2017 kl. 13:01 - Sveinbjörn Þórðarson
A man, a plan, a canal - Panama

What an excellent palindrome.

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A scholar must have other interests

8.7.2017 kl. 12:59 - Sveinbjörn Þórðarson
A scholar, even for the sake of his scholarship, as well as for that of his life, must have other interests. Scholarship which is confined to one rut becomes antiquarianism: it needs a context, and the possibility of comparison, and the invigorating infusion of reality, and life. But then, of course, there is the opposite danger of dilettantism, the occupational hazard of the journalist. I think that one needs to be a disciplined specialist in one area in order to have a corrective standard outside that area—and meanwhile to have interests outside that area in order to preserve one’s balance and keep intellectually alive. — Hugh Trevor-Roper
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Greiðslukerfið sem pólitískt vopn

22.6.2017 kl. 19:46 - Sveinbjörn Þórðarson

Það er eflaust blautur draumur Benedikts og ættmenna hans að útrýma reiðufé og rukka landsmenn 50 kall per færslu. En eins ógeðslegt og þetta Borgunarmál er allt saman, þá eru hugmyndir um að útrýma reiðufé stórhættulegar og af hinu illa, faktískt hoppandi ruglaðar.

Í hagkerfum með reiðufé er vald ríkisins til þess að stjórna aðgangi borgara að greiðslukerfinu verulega takmarkað. Svo lengi sem menn búa yfir reiðufé geta þeir keypt vörur og þjónustur, hvort sem ríkinu og öðrum líkar betur eða verr. En ef allar færslur verða rafrænar mun ríkið (og jafnvel einkaaðilar) skyndilega geta útilokað fólk úr hagkerfinu með því að neita því um greiðsluþjónustu. Og þannig valdbeiting hefur þegar átt sér stað. Við sáum til dæmis hvað var gert við Wikileaks á sínum tíma.

Að útrýma reiðufé breytir greiðslukerfinu í pólitískt vopn og minnkar sjálfstæði einstaklingsins andspænis ríkisvaldinu. Allir ættu að vera á móti því.

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Rónar, þekkið ykkar fólk!

22.6.2017 kl. 18:52 - Sveinbjörn Þórðarson

„Gúdd ívening, sör! Kudd jú sper a sigarett?“ spurði róninn mig efst á Laugaveginum.

Hvað fékk hann til þess að halda að ég, af öllum mönnum, væri túristi? Varla voru það subbulegu flauelsbuxurnar, eða notaði leðurjakkinn, eða laskaði gamli bakpokinn á hægri öxl. Og það var svo sannarlega ekki tanið.

Í hefndarskyni hristi ég höfuðið og gaf honum ekki sígó. Rónar, know yer people!

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If I were an optimist...

29.5.2017 kl. 10:34 - Sveinbjörn Þórðarson

If I were an optimist, I'd say that this heralds a new age where Europe moves away from the Anglo partnership towards a more humane and reasonable form of social democratic capitalism, leaving the Anglos to stew in their own corrosive neoliberal clusterfuck. But then again, I'm not an optimist.

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