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Chris
Outsider philosopher, game designer and author
Recent Activity
Firstly, let me thank the three of you - stalwarts all! - for commenting on this piece. I was rather discouraged when the 'repeaters' (tweets) ran without the post being viable and nobody noticed, so it is great to have comments on the piece in the end. RodeoClown: In the UK, the limit is £30, which means I still quite frequently have to use the chip-and-pin method. Despite the negative tone of this piece, I am perfectly happy with contactless for myself - but my wife and I meet once a week to process the household budget. The concern in this piece is merely a worry I have about the technology... (As for safety, it is easier to clone a magnetic data strip than an RFID chip - but both are perfectly possible!) Malte: This 'chain of trust' idea is an interesting one, but I don't forsee much risk that it breaks down over contactless payments, per se. But this is certainly a factor - and especially in the rise of cryptocurrencies, which some believe forges new trust through its distribution. Interesting perspective. Michael: It's a great pleasure to get a comment from you... and yes, life gets hectic pretty fast once you get out into employment, and time vanishes. It recedes even further when you have kids as I have discovered! But I appreciate it any time you can drop by. And yes, 'Everyday Carry' is the logical extension of affording so much power to our pocket robots. It is precisely our dependence upon them that triggered my writing The Virtuous Cyborg... something significant happened, and it happened in a barely noticed manner. Your argument via Kant is sound: the institution remains intact. (This is Malte's point too... although he puts a more cautious spin on it). For me, the concern with contactless is that precisely by reducing the 'friction', it makes spending money too easy. I should like to see if I could get statistics on whether the number of people going into their overdrafts has increased since contactless appeared... I fear there is another side to this convenience we are neglecting - hence this piece. Thank you all for sharing your perspectives! It is most welcome.
Toggle Commented yesterday on Contactless Payments at Only a Game
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It is exceptionally common to hear lotteries being accused of being “a tax on stupidity” or “the poor person’s tax” but I have found it very difficult to accept this conclusion uncritically. It rests on treating the lottery not as... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2018 at Only a Game
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As someone who is faintly terrified by Facebook, I was not entirely convinced about joining Twitter. I did so because it was recommended to me by games industry friends while I was visiting Seattle for a speaking gig. The justification... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2018 at Only a Game
Chris Billows (AKA Doc Surge) has replied to the earlier A Hundred Cyborgs piece on Vintage Collectibles with his own reflections on nostalgia. Here’s an extract: Nostalgia is a chemical mixture that blends complimentary and contradictory ingredients. For it to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2018 at Only a Game
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One of the most common values that consumer-facing corporations have been pimping in recent decades is convenience... This was readily apparent in the earlier discussion of the appeal of Amazon, a company built upon leveraging convenience through economies of scale.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2018 at Only a Game
Many thanks for this! It sets a few other thoughts running with me... And infinite gratitude for your continuing participation in the Republic of Bloggers - there are few of us left... those that remain should definitely be talking to one another! I'm not sure if I'll be responding directly or indirectly, but I will follow this up at some point later this year.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2018 on Vintage Collectibles at Only a Game
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Thanks! Alas, the follow up piece for Thursday on Contactless Payments failed to run as I had set the wrong flag in Typepad. But it will run this morning. All is chaos - it was ever thus! :)
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2018 on Cash Machines at Only a Game
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Thanks for the extended Rorty quote! He's been on my reading list for a while (specifically his 1979 Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature) but I am so far from on top of my reading these days. My work in games is sucking me in again, and my time for philosophy narrows daily... Hence I greatly appreciate these exchanges with you!
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2018 on Robot Recommendations at Only a Game
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Hey dmf, Thanks for the info re: Rorty! The issues you raise here about experts and democracy are key points in WKN, where I draw against Latour and especially Isabelle Stengers (who influenced Latour) to try and address some of these questions. I'll be really interested to see what you make of my approach - it will certainly invite objections, but as a first stab at a positive solution to contemporary epistemology, I'm rather proud of it. I'll be very interested in your impressions, when you get around to it (although I too know all-too-well what it means to have a 'reading list' rather than just 'a book' to read. :D). Thanks again, Chris.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2018 on Calculators at Only a Game
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Hey dmf, I'm not trying to assert any hierarchy of values in these pieces; I just take a technological assemblage and consider it for cybervirtue. It's likely at some point I'll cover a set of gig economy cyborgs (quite possibly Uber), although it's not on my list for Cyborgs #21-30. Seventy more to go after that, though. :) This piece is effectively a preface for Thursday's piece on contactless payments. I was in the mood for a 'double bill'. All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Sep 5, 2018 on Cash Machines at Only a Game
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Well put! Perhaps my point is better stated by saying that the entire past is always available to be incorporated in new ways into the present.
Toggle Commented Sep 5, 2018 on Robot Recommendations at Only a Game
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Hey dmf, This adage you suggest, "if you can't open it, it owns you" is a fascinating twist on the problems of contemporary technology. It flags more a risk than an inevitability, and yet the risk is undoubtedly there. Regarding the 'invocation of nihilism', I agree that the contemporary problem is not an absence of meanings, it is rather a surplus of meanings and an absence of means to negotiate them. I find people turn to the claim of nihilism when they have a tacit commitment to some strong construal of truth, and when they can't make that go through, they treat the outcome as if all meaning was impossible. It's kind of 'the sky is falling' of philosophy right now... I dig deeply into this problem in Chaos Ethics and began to fashion a possible solution in Wikipedia Knows Nothing. Do you have a text reference for that Rorty you mentioned? I agree that new assemblages (new communities...) is what's needed, and also that achieving this (as you allude) is easier said than done. Thanks for continuing our discussions, Chris.
Toggle Commented Sep 5, 2018 on Calculators at Only a Game
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For the majority of people reading, the cash machine has been the primary dispenser of money for their entire lifetime. I am old enough to remember when my parents had to plan to go to the bank to get cash,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2018 at Only a Game
Hey dmf, The comparison to Heidegger's broken tools here is an interesting one: our smartphones are ready-to-hand in a way that transcends the hammer he used as an example, and are seldom present-at-hand i.e. open to scrutiny as objects. That's part of what I'm doing with these investigations into cybervirtue, of course: to try and step back from accepting all this as everyday and to try to expose how far from any traditional concept of 'good' contemporary technology has become. The example of students using statistical calculations via a robot and not understanding them is particularly relevant, of course, because statistics are used today as a hermeneutic while at the same time the entire concept of hermeneutics is denied as having any continuing relevance (a point successfully explored by Babette Babich). It is a stark reminder of the difference between having robots complement and augment our skills, and merely handing off competences to the robots. We have tended to assume the former is inevitable... it now seems more plausible that the latter risk is inherent and cannot be ignored. Many thanks for recommending me to the salon, and for the link to the Nolen Gertz interview. I'm still trying to see if Nolen and I can end up in the same city at some point. :) Finally, thanks for your continued engagement and support. It is most welcome. All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Aug 31, 2018 on Calculators at Only a Game
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Hey dmf, I wouldn't dismiss Lacan out of hand... I haven't read his work, but I know he influenced Alain Badiou, who I have a lot of respect for. I also tend to think that no world has ever been 'left behind', in that we carry the past with us in various ways. But of course, I go back to Kant regularly and find new relevance to contemporary situations! :) I have a particular penchant for exploring the roots of the presence in the past... I think it's a philosophical habit I picked up from Mary Midgley. Many thanks for continuing to share interesting links! Chris.
Toggle Commented Aug 31, 2018 on Robot Recommendations at Only a Game
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Along with digital watches, electronic calculators were the first digital robots to enjoy widespread ownership – our first robot slaves, if you will. Since then, calculators have been dogged by the complaint that reliance upon these machines for mathematical calculations... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2018 at Only a Game
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What are the behavioural effects of technological networks? What happens if we stop thinking about technology as shiny machines and start looking at other, subtler tools? Can we design technology to have better effects upon humans? These and other questions... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2018 at Only a Game
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At Gamescom again this year, but unusually I have client projects to offer to publishers – and really interesting ones too! Looking forward to finding out what the dev community makes of these games. Still interested in meeting with anyone... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2018 at ihobo
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At Gamescom again this year, but unusually I have client projects to offer to publishers – and really interesting ones too! Looking forward to finding out what the dev community makes of these games. Still interested in meeting with anyone... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2018 at Only a Game
Hey dmf, Many thanks for another interesting link! A little heavy on the Lacan (which is always a little heavy), but a really interesting take on these issues. Cheers! Chris.
Toggle Commented Aug 19, 2018 on Robot Recommendations at Only a Game
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Anyone can kill themselves, but it takes specific judicial technology to do so legally, and such processes need to be designed and medically implemented. If this does not seem like a technological issue, it is only because we are so... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2018 at Only a Game
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My wife frequently accepts a playlist generated algorithmically by Spotify’s robots based on a stepping point of her choosing. I rarely do this myself... it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I much prefer listening to a playlist hand-picked... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2018 at Only a Game
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Although I own many Star Wars collectibles from the 1970s and 80s, some slightly older Star Trek memorabilia, and far too many classic comics, the pride of my collectibles for me are my Micronauts toys. They’re not especially valuable, but... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2018 at Only a Game
Hi Patrick, The clearing of trees in the British Isles took place over an extremely extended length of time... the greatest of that occurred, as I say here, at the end of the Iron Age (from 100% to 20%), but there was indeed (as you suggest) another round of clearance connected with ship-building (from 15% to 5% over about 8 centuries according to this piece from the Guardian. I had hoped to bring this in - since you had specifically name-checked man'o'wars in your request - but 500 words is a really tight restriction, and I had to narrow my focus. "'Rot-gut' is a natural symptom of oak-heart it would seem" is a truly marvellous piece of word-play, and I must also thank you for that magnificent anecdote about bourbon (which I love) and whisky (which is the greatest drink ever created). Finally, many thanks for suggesting trees as a topic - it was a pleasure to work on this one. All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2018 on Trees at Only a Game
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When we think of biotechnology, the image it conjures up is typically of lab coats and test tubes and tinkering with DNA. But of course, humans have been tinkering with plant DNA for millennia as part of agriculture, even though... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2018 at Only a Game