“In Praise of Idleness” revisited

So much of modern culture insists that constant stimulation is the essence of living. In truth, constant stimulation is merely a tactic of advertisers, app makers, websites and myriad media outlets to hook you on their messages and their products. Leisure requires withdrawal from all that and—this is the key point—learning to derive pleasure from solitude, quiet observation of the world around us and introspection.

AI Has Already Taken Over. It’s Called the Corporation

Imagine a world where corporate charters were only granted if they adopted a triple bottom line, and where shareholder lawsuits threatened every time a company broke one of its own social and environmental standards. Until that happens, it may be that the “worst event in the history of our civilization” is not the future development of modern AI, but the decision by a group of 17thcentury politicians to unleash the power of the Corporation on an unsuspecting humanity.

A Conversation with my Daughter

My daughter, being sixteen, just got her driver’s license. I asked her a question a few days ago: ” If you had to choose one and give up the other, which would you choose: a personal vehicle or the internet (including social media, wifi, smart phones, etc.)?” She thought for a bit and said: “It’s a hard question but I would choose the internet.  Nobody actually likes driving, it’s just something we have to do, but I really like having access to movies at home and all that other stuff.” She is just one young person, but the choice and the distinction that she made surprised me.

Is Greenhouse Warming a Good Pretext for Selling Driverless Cars?

The automakers and IT giants are predicting that autonomous vehicles (AVs or “driverless cars”) will play a big role in reducing America’s currently extravagant emissions of greenhouse gases. In this claim (as in the assertion that flying cars will be more energy efficient than helicopters), climate mitigation is serving not as a goal but as a selling point for a lucrative new technology that society doesn’t need.

A Society beyond Consumerism

Post-purchase dissonance is an expression psychologists use to describe the disappointment we sometimes feel on realizing that our latest consumer purchase does not fulfil the promise we bought it on. At first sight it’s a curious anomaly. On deeper reflection, it turns out to be the structural basis for the entire edifice. The engine of consumer society is discontentment. This is more than a rhetorical claim.

Hummus and Mindfulness: Skills, Resilience and Relaxation beyond Consumerism

We all have to consume; it’s a necessary reality of existence. However, in the ‘consumer society’ the most radical thing you can do is not to consume ‘as directed’ – by finding alternative options that meets your needs while enacting a set of principles in opposition to that overbearing and exploitative economic paradigm.