Here I am tapping out these weeknotes using the iPad’s on-screen keyboard while my MacBook struggles to even respond to trackpad movements because, while asleep, the “system has run out of application memory”.
We had two lots of friends round for drinks and chat this week, outside of course. One friend was frustrated with various bits of admin he’d been struggling to get done online and hoped that one day it would all just get done automatically. The system would be able to automatically do all the bookings for your holiday without you comparing several websites and their prices, and creating accounts, and making bookings, and approving payments with all the banking security that entails.
I was sceptical, and not just because that’s exactly the kind of thing that’s been promised for decades (remember how “bots” were going to be out there proactively doing all this stuff for us)? It also seemed unlikely because every new layer of technology and service added to make things simpler is just a new layer of things to break, or have security problems, or require new accounts and admin of their own.
Way back, I’d call up Trailfinders, say when and where I wanted to travel, and they’d tell me the various costs and book me my flights. Easy, even as someone who dislikes using the phone. Now we have “choice” and have replaced that middle-person with umpteen technology companies. Yay.
A couple of days later I read these excerpts from an interview with Ted Chiang, summarised as, “I tend to think that most fears about A.I. [or other technologies] are best understood as fears about capitalism.” Which makes enough sense that I almost said “oh yeah!” out loud. Although, also, I don’t know. I expect businesses and governments in nice social democratic states can screw things up too.
Still, rather than impotently shake my fist at the sky and shout “TECHNOLOGY!” when things go wrong I can now shout “CAPITALISM!” instead.
OK, the Mac’s decided to restart so I can get back to my weeknotes notes. Thanks capitalism.
§ Last night I watched the first night of the little Wales Goes Pop! indie pop festival that I’ve yet to go to in person. It’s odd how much different watching pre-recorded videos shown “live” at the same time as a bunch of strangers in a chatroom can seem (a little) more exciting than just watching them randomly sometime on YouTube, but it does.
I hadn’t heard of most of the bands, and the new-to-me ones I liked most were Aderyn:
and L.A. Peach:
§ Inspired by Tom’s progress in being able to not only touch his toes, but put his hands flat on the floor, I have been doing these stretches every day for the past couple of months and… well, I’ve made progress. My fingertips used to reach part way down my shins and now they just about reach my ankles. They seem resistant to going much further. Ugh, stupid capitalism.
§ This week we finished watching the fourth season of The Crown. In a way it’s a bit less interesting now it’s reached the 1980s-90s, which I remember. It’s less surprising.
Also, as a drama, it had benefited from “Princess Margaret’s” manner of trying to throw off the shackles of being a royal, rather than, now, focusing on “Prince Charles’” frustrations. I could sympathise with her, even as she behaved terribly. Whereas he comes across as a selfish, spoiled shit. He’s not the only terrible person created by and trapped in this institution, obviously. “Andrew” and “Edward” are just as bad. “Philip” is only now tolerable because he had little to do this season. “Elizabeth”, the clueless-yet-wise stoic, isn’t as bad as the rest but there’s little that endears me to a monarchy. Terrible. The whole thing is madness.
Don’t get me started on “Thatcher”.
I wonder if Tory royalists who watch the show feel their own beliefs confirmed?
§ Lovely weather this week. I feel I should be perkier given that, plus the slight lifting of lockdown, the progress of vaccinations, the sight of friends, etc. But brains are stupid. Was it the prospect of a third wave of infections and this all going on forever? Was it the death of a blackbird after it flew into our windows? Was it more decades stretching aimlessly ahead which I tried to make sound exciting in my half-century notes? Was it stupid website admin tasks failing to work as advertised? Was it random brain chemistry? Was it… capitalism…?