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Pittsburgh mayoral special election, 2007

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pittsburgh mayoral election, 2007
Flag of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.svg

← 2005 November 5, 2007 2009 →

Ravenstahl AFL CIO 2009 (cropped).jpg
DeSantis Debate Oct 30, 2007 (cropped).jpg
Nominee Luke Ravenstahl Mark DeSantis
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 43,257 23,884
Percentage 63.2% 34.9%

Pittsburgh Mayoral Election Results by Neighborhood, 2007.svg
Results by ward

Mayor before election

Luke Ravenstahl

Elected Mayor

Luke Ravenstahl

The mayoral election of 2007 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was a special election held on Tuesday, November 6, 2007. The incumbent mayor, Luke Ravenstahl of the Democratic Party faced Republican challenger Mark DeSantis, a telecommunications executive and adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University. The race was notable for the strength of its Republican challenger, rare in Pittsburgh, and the election of such a young mayor, Ravenstahl being 27 years old at the time.[1] Ravenstahl was elected with a comfortable margin in an election marked by unusually cold weather and low voter turnout.

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- We live in a world of screens. More of us would know this, if we look up, and look around. Fingers that are glued to the screen which are glued to the eyes which are glued to the screen. Everywhere. Pervasive. We use them for work. Play. But it’s much more than that. The screens use us too. How did we get here? And where is this journey leading us? What does that even look like? And is it what we want? Is this culture’s technology changing us and our society for the better? Does it empower all of us like it claims to? Or does it only empower a select few at the expense of the many? What’s the price we pay to live in this pervasive electronic world? This era is unprecedented, and perhaps never before has technology been so prolific and shaped our lives so intimately. And there’s the dark side we don’t talk about. Why is that? Is it because we’re too busy being glued to the screen? Why do we shy away from questions about our collective addiction? What’s lurking under the surface? Could it be that with this era, the stakes have also never been so high that we could get it wrong? - Are people becoming obsolete? A giant electronic brain has started cogitating at the at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s made of vacuum tubes like your radio, and it can add up a column of figures a yard long in a second. It’s the world’s first electronic computer. Right now it’s solving mathematical problems for the US Army, but, who knows, some day a machine like this may check up on your income tax. “Progress” - The story of how we got here begins in 1946, with the invention of the ENIAC, the first digital computer. The ENIAC was the size of a large room. It covered 170 square metres weighed 30 tonnes and required extensive human labour to keep it working. Small armies of people predominantly women worked inside the machine to check critical parts and program the computer by changing switches and rewiring. The beginnings of the computer age started literally with humans inside the machine. As seemingly with many of this culture’s technologies the ENIAC was created by and for the military. One of its primary uses was to calculate missile trajectories and play a critical role in the development of some of the first nuclear weapons, as part of the then top-secret Manhattan Project. But obviously, the creation of the computer didn’t just begin and end with weapons. After the Second World War, in the wake of vast devastation, an economic void appeared. Industry that had been rapidly set up across the globe to fuel war now had to re-purpose its output for peacetime to continue to exist, or face collapse from economic overshoot. But rather than stop this war machine, it was to expand into a different form. The coming decades would see the computer not only continue to drive war, but become a force in-and-of itself in the post-war era of consumerism and suburbia that was to be ushered in to ward off economic collapse. The 1950s saw huge boom from this. - By the 60s, television was still relatively new and only in color for the first time, solidified in its place in the home, driven by advertising. - See all colour shows in living colour a supreme achievement in television engineering. - Yes, in little more than a wink of time, television has entered our homes, our lives, imprinted new silhouettes on our skyline. And all this has been just the beginning. - It was also the beginning of The Space Race a flexing of muscles between superpowers, escalating the technology of war and computers, satellites and communication. Television could now help, playing a part in a narrative of a culture of fear and paranoia that was the Cold War, beaming social engineering directly into the homes of the population a point that seems quaint today, given the extent and normalisation of television in our lives and media these days. - We interrupt this program for a special news bulletin. - It was also during the Space Race, that the computing structures of the internet were being developed in the Pentagon research labs of the United States military. - Bob Kahn and I did the design work in 1973. He really initiated the programme at the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, and so it’s fair to say that the two of us had the primary involvement in the creation of the Internet’s design. But after our first paper was published in 1974, there were just thousands of people involved in making this actually happen. - Indeed. The rapid escalation of technology by this point had transformed the world. The Personal Computer was next, merging with the television, giving rise to key corporate gatekeepers for what was to come, and bringing a kind of synergy to the trajectory so far, and a further frantic pace. - The World Wide Web appeared in 1991 and by 1994 there were 100,000 websites. It spread like wild fire. By 1996 the first web-browser went public and doubled in its first day of trading. Its market cap by years-end was 2.2 billion dollars. An IPO frenzy soon followed on the NASDAC and as ideas were bankrolled into companies, the dot-com was booming. It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million people. Television did it in 13. It took the Web less than 5. By 1999 there were more than 150 million people online browsing through more than a billion web pages. - Think about it. In much less than one human lifetime, we’ve literally gone from no computers at all, to computers everywhere, connected to all the other computers everywhere, seemingly touching every facet of our lives. A colossal paradigm shift in society. - Please select your payment method. - iPhone! - Yay! - What we can see over time is computing power becoming incredibly powerful. Storage becoming bigger. We’re now talking not megabytes. In the first computer I had, half a megabyte was huge. Today we’re talking about terabytes of data. We’re also talking about processing speeds. I remember connecting at 1200 baud-rate. Now we’re connecting with broadband and sending hundreds of megabits per second of detailed information through our networks. We’re talking about huge storage capabilities and processing power, and a militarisation of technology. We’re not talking ‘bricks’ anymore, but small implants that you can actually wear even, or tags that you can place onto your clothing. So a lot has happened during the last 25 years, and the next 25 years seem to be going as rapidly. - I think you have to look at two things that develop technology, and the first is the money of the people who pay for it, and the second is the passion of those that do it. And I suppose when you look at it up to certainly the turn of the century almost, it was very hard to develop new technologies without one of three forms of funding, and I tended to refer to that as the A-B-C of technological change, because it was either funded by the Armed forces, which were one of the greatest most, you know... and I included the space race in that really. Or B for bureaucracy. When you look at the processing power of getting files and data on everybody and making sure that they were paying their taxes and that their car registration... and all the rest of it. And the third is Corporate power. So the entities that want to know what you buy, who you talk to, how to market to you. So those 3 sources. Even if you look at universities and you say, well, an awful lot of innovation went on in universities, but the projects that get funded in universities are still either funded through alliances with business, or government sponsored in some way, and it’s very rare that you came across something that you could imagine that that had a lot of money behind it that would develop a new technology that wasn’t an A-B-C of technological change. I suppose in the 10 years after the turn of the last century to start seeing that really the A, B, and C of technological change, those were still the main funders, but there were a whole new set of innovations that were driven by social engagement, by people who were passionate and were either passionate about the technology and kept developing it in certain ways, or were passionate about other things but could see ways in which to use the technology, to harness it, to achieve other ends. - So what does it mean to live in this world of technology mediated by these power blocs, that have these sorts of passions, and history, and when their ability to spread and perpetuate their passions is more powerful today than ever before? - All technology is rooted in ideology. The Internet has a cultural, a very concrete cultural ideological context. It represents the fusion of the old military industrial complex of southern California, and the hippie ethic of Northern California, both were in a sense opposed to authority. And in a book written by Fred Turner, a Stanford University professor, an excellent book he explains that very strange union. Although on reflection, it’s not that strange. Because both the military-industrial-complex, which invented the Internet, or at least financed the Internet in the late 50’s, and the counter culture of the late 60’s in San Francisco, were tied together by the libertarianism. The Internet itself reflects the ideology of the people who invented it, the people who drove it. Technology is simply a reflection of human will. Technology isn’t accidental, technology just doesn’t come about in a vacuum. - We live in a techno-dazzled world, and there’s considerable resistance to the very idea of challenging technology. - Yay! iPhone! - Is that Google Glass? - And now we have computers. They tie the world together. They accelerate communication. They make corporate globalisation more likely and more effective. And they accelerate its negative impacts. Nearly all information we get about technology comes from the people who invent, promote and sell it. We don’t really need to hear from them at this event. We hear from them every day on the TV and on the Internet. We’ve been hearing from them for years. We don’t need Eric Schmidt to tell us about computers, driverless cars and Google Glass. We get it. We want to discuss the rest of the story: What else do they bring? How do they unify our minds within a certain worldview? How do they envelop us within their frameworks? What are their hidden harms to the planet? And, how do we deal with the staggering information imbalance that exists right now, in our country, on these questions? - Lewis Mumford was a, sort of a philosopher of technology and, he’s pretty interesting because he was very pro-technology until World War Two. World War Two changed his mind. And it’s not often that, and I have great respect for someone who allows reality to change their philosophy, you don’t often see that, I think most people’s philosophy is a justification for whatever pre-existing beliefs they have. Anyway, he had a number of really great insights and one of his insights is that technologies don’t emerge from a vacuum. People say, “Oh, a tool is just a tool,” but that’s not really true, in that it takes a certain mindset and a certain set of social circumstances to create a certain tool, and then once you have that tool, that tool will then lead to certain mindsets, and a couple of examples might make this really clear. It takes a certain mindset to create an atomic bomb And then, likewise, it takes a certain mindset to create an automobile. You know, the Tolowa Indians lived where I live now for at least 12,500 years and they didn’t invent backhoes, they didn’t invent chainsaws, they didn’t invent automobiles, and it’s not because they were too stupid, it’s because their way of life and their mindset made those technologies unthinkable. On the other hand, they created entirely different technologies, such as salmon welcoming songs Those were songs that they would sing to welcome the salmon and to help the salmon return home. And such a concept here is pretty much unthinkable. I mean, if somebody went out to the docks and started singing a salmon welcoming song, everybody’d think they’re nuts. Likewise, once you have a technology changes how you perceive the world. And this can be seen really clearly in that, I live about 3 miles from a grocery store. And I can drive into the grocery store and if I forget something yesterday I forgot something, in fact yesterday I was sitting in the grocery store parking lot I realised, you know, I actually don’t need anything so I just drove home. I was in town anyway. But if had to walk the 3 miles, I’d sure as hell remember every single thing that I’m going to need for the next week. As it is, you know, jump in a car and drive 3 miles, it takes me like 7 minutes or something. It’s not a big deal. Or, you and I are having this conversation half a world apart. The technology has changed how we perceive the world. - We spend an average of 4 hours a day. It’s dark when we leave and it’s dark when we come home. We walk in the door and it’s dark. - We’ve really been together more than our own family. I mean, for me, I’ve been with them more than I’ve been with my own family. - Once again, technologies don’t emerge from a vacuum and Lewis Mumford he had a word for the combination of technology and the social system that would create it and then come out of it, and that’s a technic. So, you don’t just have a knife standing by itself, instead this knife is part of a larger technic. We’ve all heard the cliché, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The technology’s going to change how you perceive the world, and how you relate to the world. “If all you have is a phone, everything looks like an app.” - It’s unprecedented, that although the old argument is, “Oh technology’s always been here since the printing press, and the car and the telephone and the television,” never before have these technologies changed our environment from 3 dimensions to 2, and challenged the boundaries as not just information technology but nanotechnology and biotechnology are doing. They are radically shaking up our concepts of space and time in a way that the motor car or the television or the printing press did not. So therefore, I don’t take that old argument of saying it’s the same as it’s not. Mindset. - Screen Culture is, as its name suggests, a whole way of life revolving around the digital devices. So when we say Screen Culture, whilst I wouldn’t exclude television, it’s more the interactive nature and the mobile nature of digital devices, which of course can embrace interactive TV nowadays, but it’s more specifically when you think about the amount of hours people spend either with their Xbox, or their laptop, or indeed their mobiles or perhaps even now days with Google Glass. - E-mail from: Daniel Pittsburgh. Subject: Message via your Google Profile. Heading to San Francisco. Message: Me and Drew, heading down to Maker Faire next weekend. - So I can reply to it of course. - I’m going to show you how to navigate while walking. - Lead the way. - It’s this way. - Okay Glass. Get directions to park. - Okay Glass. Make a call to Raffie. - Is somebody calling me? - Try, “Okay Glass, answer call.” - Okay Glass, answer call. Today, over 3.8 billion people are online. 2 billion active Facebook users, every month. Average adult spends 8+ hours a day with screens. More time than sleep... Within the first 15 minutes of waking up, 4 out of 5 ‘smartphone’ users are checking their phones. By the time the average person reaches 70, they will have spent the equivalent of 10 to 15 years of their life watching television. 4+ years just watching the advertising. - By Screen Culture, I mean literally that: a world of two dimensions where for six hours a day or more, people in the Western developed world, more particularly kids, are spending time either playing games or on social networking sites and thereby putting themselves in an environment that is very much in the here and now, that has very strong audio and visual sensations, where at the press of a button you get instant feedback from whatever you’re doing. But at the same time, you’re perhaps removed from some of the aspects that we’ve taken for granted. Things like metaphor, abstract concepts, logical narrative, conceptual frameworks, long attention spans, imagination. But, it’s primarily a world of a small child, a world of the here and now, a world of a sound-bite, a world of an instant frozen moment where nothing has consequences, and where everything is literal. Where nothing has a meaning, you’re not seeing one thing in terms of something else, you’re seeing literally, what you see is what you get. As a neuroscientist, the reason I’m particularly fascinated and I think in equal measure both excited and alarmed by the impact of Screen Culture on the human brain, is because, as a neuroscientist, I know that the human brain is changing. It’s highly plastic as we say. That’s not to mean it’s made of plastic of course, but more that it’s very dynamic, it will adapt to the environment. - If you think of your brain as a dynamic, connected power grid, there are billions of pathways, or ‘roads,’ lighting up every time you think, feel or do something. Some of these ‘roads’ are well travelled: these are our habits, our established ways of thinking, feeling and doing. Every time we think in a certain way, practice a particular task or feel a specific emotion, we strengthen this road. It becomes easier for our brains to travel this pathway. Say we think about something differently, learn a new task, or choose a different emotion. We start carving out a new road. If we keep travelling that road, our brains begin to use this pathway more, and this new way of thinking, feeling, or doing becomes second nature. The old pathway gets used less and less and weakens. This process of rewiring your brain by forming new connections and weakening old ones is neuroplasticity in action. - So this is what is meant by plasticity and one example for example, a very famous one, is of piano players where they had three groups of adult human volunteers, none of whom could play the piano, and even over five days you could see that whereas the controls who were just staring at the piano showed no change in their brains (the brains were literally unimpressed), those people who were taught five-finger piano exercises showed an astonishing change in brain territory and functional area relating to fingers, even over five days, but the even more exciting group were the third people who just imagined they were playing the piano and astonishingly, their brains showed the similar changes to those that had done the physical exercise. So, I think this shows you how everything you do, even a ‘mere thought’ will literally leave its mark on your brain and therefore if that is the case, if we are so sensitive in adapting to the environment, if the environment is changing in an unprecedented way, as I argue it is with the cyber world, then it follows that the brain will change in a similarly unprecedented way. - Well, it’s clear that even people who have, like me, who have started off without the Web and now use it, work differently. When we want to think of something we tend to often just reach for the keyboard because we have assumed that we can find stuff. Now people say, I don’t know, but people, they’ve measured that people are not remembering so much, I don’t know, but I know that the way I work very often assumes that I can go for my computer helper, for my web as a helper, the Web as an extension of my brain. When I’m roaming, so my little interface to the Web is too expensive to use, I feel as if suddenly I’ve got one hand tied behind my back because the usual sort of instinctive reaction to whip it out, I have to hold back and try to actually think things up. - I think the price we pay for having easy access to so much information, easy quick access to so much information, is we sacrifice some of the depth of our engagement with that information. So the kind of jumping, hopping, from bit to bit to bit, clicking on links, takes the place of what used to be a more contemplative I think approach to thinking about one thing. Whether it’s one piece of information, or the argument or the narrative of a book, it becomes much harder I think when you’re bombarded by information and other stimuli as you are all the time on the Web, to sit down and really focus on one particular thing. So, we gain kind of a breadth of information, but the cost is, I think, a certain superficiality in our relationship to that information. - How many of us can relate to this experience? Living vicariously through the computer? Jumping from one thing to the next? Multitasking. Digitally tethered. Looking up something, only to end up somewhere else completely unrelated? How many hours have you spent looking up fleeting curiosities? And how much of it do you remember? What do you take in? How many of us think through the global computer? And how has this already changed the way we think, feel, read and write; learn, understand, and remember? What does that mean over time if we go on like this? - Throughout my life, books have played an important role, and I’ve always found it easy to immerse myself in a book and get engaged in an argument or a narrative. But a few years ago as my use of the Web kind of picked up, I found it much much harder to sit down and engage with a book. After a page or two, my mind would start wondering, I’d kind of lose the focus, I’d have to go back a page to reconnect with the argument. And a first, I thought, “Okay, maybe this is just general age or something that’s causing this,” but what I noticed is that the sensation I had when I tried to read or really concentrate on anything, was that my brain, my mind, wanted to behave the way it behaves when I’m at my computer or online. It wanted to check e-mail, it wanted to click on links and jump from page to page. So really, I began to make the connection that, really in an unmistakable way, my use of the Net was changing the way I think and changing my ability to do things like concentrate or contemplate one particular piece of information or read through 100 pages of a book. I began talking to other people and many of them, not all of them, but many of them had a very similar... Were suffering from a similar type of affliction. They felt that they were increasingly scatter-brained, and they wanted to be online. - One of the biggest problems affecting the human brain in the 21st century is multitasking. And the research we’ve done over the past year or two that got a whole lot of attention was multitasking seems to be very bad for the brain. Not just while you’re doing it, but there are lingering long-term effects. So people who multitask chronically, people who multitask all the time, seem to be less able to distinguish relevant from irrelevant information, seem less able to manage their memory, and seem less able actually to switch from task to task. So what this tells us is, if we’re designing interfaces to encourage multitasking, or to support multitasking, we’re actually creating a worse thinking, poorer thinking, group of people and it’s very worrying. - If you look at the way the Internet bombards us with stimuli, not only hyperlinks and different pages of information, but alerts from Facebook updates, to Twitter alerts, to you know, incoming e-mail and even our phones going off all the time: it creates, in a sense, an environment of information that plays to our desire to be distracted. So, it becomes very difficult to keep a focus on anything when 5 different things are happening at once on your screen, or between your screen and your smartphone and so forth. It’s just all sorts of environmental stimuli that come through this information medium and keep us pretty much permanently distracted. - So you’re reading an article online, when you get an instant message with a link to a funny photo (which of course you have to share) and now you’re reading your Facebook News Wall which sends you to a video of a Panda Bear attacking a kid, and now you’re reading Wikipedia to ‘learn’ everything you can about the ‘violent behaviour’ of Panda Bears. And this is what 3 minutes on the Internet can be like. - I’ve often spoken about the benefits of Screen Culture being one of agile processing, but how that mustn’t be confused with content. Now there is a book written a while ago by someone called Steven Johnson called Everything Bad Is Good For You, which extolled the benefits of Screen Culture. And one of them is that it could be linked to high IQ, because the skills that you rehearse when you play videogames are similar to those that are required to do well in an IQ test. That is to say you don’t need a lot of facts, or infrastructure, or hinterland, but you do have to be very agile at looking at patterns and connections and getting to an answer in a rather fast timeframe. So the idea is that because the human brain is always good what it rehearses, if you’re rehearsing that, you’re going to be good at it, and so then you go to an IQ test and guess what—you’ll be good. But even Steven Johnson says just because, as many claim, we’re seeing an increase in IQ scores in certain societies, we’re not seeing an increase in empathy or understanding. “Self-reported empathy dropped over last 30 years.” “Narcissism has reached new heights.” - We’re not seeing insights into the economic woes of the world, or the ‘Middle East crisis,’ you know, no one has suddenly come up with their superior cognitive abilities with insights that we would regard as important. Now I think what you need to do therefore, is say on the one hand, yes it’s very good for mental processing, for what used to be called ‘fluid intelligence,’ that is to say where the emphasis is on giving a right response to an input. But that’s not the same as understanding. Information is not knowledge and I think this is what people confuse. And by knowledge, I refer to content, and content for me is true intelligence which is where you can see one thing in terms of another. So for example, the bit in Macbeth, “Out, out brief candle,” in order to really understand that you have to see the analogy between the extinction of the candle and the extinction of life. You can’t just say, take a candle literally. And I think that that’s what we are missing out on, that’s what might be in jeopardy, that’s certainly not enhanced by doing very fast clever things with videogames, even though you might be able to give impressive responses very quickly, correct responses very quickly, that’s not the same as understanding, and I think we have to be careful about differentiating them. Following on from that idea we think about learning, and let’s take an example, the British Education Minister recently said, “Yes, young children now, everyone should learn a poem.” And I think that’s wrong, I think the emphasis should be that they should understand the poem. So really what we need is not just to access facts, but we need to see one fact in terms of something else. Facts on their own are pretty boring, you know who cares the height of a mountain, or the date of a battle, the name of a King—these things are only relevant if you relate them to others and you see a trend and you can generalise, or if you’re learning the name of a king, you know more about that king and why he was important. So a fact on its own is why trivial pursuits and pub quizzes are not held up as the pinnacle of intellectual achievement, facts on their own are not the same as interpreting the facts, putting the facts into a framework. And even more important than facts, are ideas and you do not get automatically ideas coming out of an iPad. You won’t have that. You’ll have access to facts, but it requires an inspired teacher, it requires your thinking processes, it requires something in addition for you personally to join up the dots. And that’s, for me, that’s real knowledge. - So can we join the dots with this then? The fact that the Screen Culture has become more pervasive than ever before, and that we’re increasingly spending more and more of our time in this virtual world, a world which encourages distraction, shallowed thinking, short attention spans, and a world where we don’t have to remember anything anymore, because we can just look it up on Google. Can you see this as one thing in terms of another? - I think we are becoming more and more stupid. We don’t have to work our brains so hard. Any information we need to know, we can instantly find it on an Internet search system, and the worst thing possibly would be to have a ‘USB portal’ into our brains so it’s there immediately. Because the moment you take that way, you’re dumb. You haven’t got any information. You’re relying on it. - Recently there was some work done by someone called Sparrow were she claimed that we were changing our memory processing because you can just look something up on Google. - The overall findings are that when people don’t know things, they tend to think about their computer first, they think about the place to find it. When people expect to have information accessible to them later, they don’t remember it as well as when they don’t expect to, so they do locate it externally instead of internally. And then finally yes, that people tend to prioritise where to find things as opposed to the things themselves. - And that does concern me, because let’s take that ad absurdum: If you feel you can look anything up and you don’t have to learn anything, this would mean conversation is going to be pretty clunky because if I normally meet someone of roughly my generation and culture, I will assume they know where Barcelona is and I will assume they know who Napoleon was or who Henry VIII was, I’ll assume they’ll know where New York is. So you can have a conversation—and we all know the delight of having conversations with people where you share a lot of background knowledge that can develop ideas—but imagine having a conversation with someone who knew nothing, who didn’t know who Hitler was, who hadn’t heard of fascism, who had to look it up each time? This would mean that you couldn’t really have a very fluid or interactive conversation and I know that sounds extreme but if we are always having recourse to an external source of memory than I think it’s going to have a severe impact on how we interact, how fast we have ideas, and what we do with them, and I think that the younger generation perhaps might be disadvantaged in not having such ready agile processes and have a much more cut-and-paste mentality. - I’m a little nervous about drawing a sharp distinction between what we call ‘generation web’ or ‘digital natives’ and older people, adults, because I think that’s too... that lets adults off the hook, and they can say, “Oh, you know”, as they always say, “This younger generation are going to hell,” or whatever. And really, the effects of the Internet, I think, are the same on adults as on younger kids and younger adults. So I would hate to make it seem as though older people aren’t affected by the Internet, because I think they are, and I think what we see in young people, the distractedness, the inability to read more than two pages at a time is probably coming to characterise older people in every generation as well. Having said that, I think obviously the human brain is malleable throughout the course of anybody’s life, but it’s particularly malleable of course when you’re young. So if a person is brought up looking at screens and using the Web and being bombarded by information, the question is will the brain circuits, the circuitry necessary to do things like deep reading, deep thinking—will those circuits ever even come into being? Will they be wired for that kind of thinking or will they be wired completely for Internet-type of thinking? - We are so perhaps transported by the experience of accessing Google, and of surfing, and of watching YouTube—most of which has no real significance, watching a dog as a trick cyclist—so what? Watching people planking, watching the Harlem Shake... Why are we doing this? It’s because the experience of it is, obviously, by definition pleasurable, but were not doing it to find anything out, because we’re not on a quest anymore because we know we can go on to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing and this, in a sense, the means has outpaced the ends, and I think that again, this will have seriously implications for education. - I think that’s the big fear: is that we’ll up with a generation of people who are very good at using the Net and very good at finding information and processing information very quickly, but don’t really have any capacity for contemplativeness, or for concentration, or for deep engagement with information. - I think the great value of thinking deeply, and reading deeply, and concentrating in general, is that we begin to develop a unique personality, a unique intellect that is ours and ours alone, and that requires I think, deep thought and the ability to make our own associations and our own connections about things we understand deeply inside our own mind, rather than relying on the associations and connections that might be out in the world and that we might access through hyperlinks for instance. So I really think that the human self and the human personality becomes much richer when we can slow down and when we can think deeply and engage with information in more than just kind of a cursory manner. - Did The Giants win last night? - The Giants beat The Nationals... - Will I need an umbrella tomorrow? - No. - You think no? - This is no longer a generation that lives deliberately, that lives its life, that lives in the moment, that has time for reflection. We ask ourselves questions—if the velocity and volume is such that I send you a ‘Tweet,’ or I send you a text, you have to answer me back, nobody answers a text by saying, you know, “I have to think about that for two weeks.” The communication demands a response. That means that we start to ask each other questions that are easy to answer. And so I think we live in a kind of paradoxical time, in we’re giving a whole generation a very paradoxical message: The world is more and more and more complex, on the other hand, we’re only going to ask you a question that you can answer in two seconds. So we leave ourselves less and less time for reflection, because our communications media push us to quick responses. And quite frankly, the questions before our planet right now are not questions that should be answered or thought about in the time-space of texting. - But there’s a more sinister danger that compounds this superficial mindset. For even when trying to meaningfully engage with information online, what if that information was tailored and edited, just for you, like an invisible fine-tuning of the world? And if you weren’t paying close attention, how would you know? - So when I was looking at Facebook, I noticed that some stories do a lot better on Facebook than others, and that people were finding it very easy to click Like on “I just ran a marathon” or “I just baked this awesome cake” but that the stories like the genocide in Darfur enters its 10th year weren’t getting so many Likes. And in a world where the Facebook algorithm shows the stories that get lots of social love to more people and shows the stories that don’t to less people, what does that mean? Does that mean that we don’t find out about important but unpleasant things that are happening? Mark Zuckerberg, a journalist was asking him a question about the news feed. And the journalist was asking him, “Why is this so important?” And Zuckerberg said, “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” And I want to talk about what a Web based on that idea of relevance might look like. It’s all about me! - When I was growing up in a really rural area in Maine, the Internet meant something very different to me. It meant a connection to the world. It meant something that would connect us all together. And I was sure that it was going to be great for democracy and for our society. But there’s this kind of shift in how information is flowing online, and it’s invisible, and if we don’t pay attention to it, it could be a real problem. So I first noticed this in a place I spend a lot of time, my Facebook page. I’m progressive politically big surprise, but I’ve always gone out of my way to meet conservatives. I like hearing what they’re thinking about, I like seeing what they link to, I like learning a thing or two. And so I was surprised when I noticed one day that the conservatives had disappeared from my Facebook feed. And what it turned out was going on was that Facebook was looking at which links I clicked on, and it was noticing that, actually, I was clicking more on my liberal friends’ links than on my conservative friends’ links. And without consulting me about it, it had edited them out. they disappeared. So Facebook isn’t the only place that’s doing this kind of invisible, algorithmic editing of the Web. Google’s doing it too. If I search for something, and you search for something, even right now at the very same time, we may get very different search results. Even if you’re logged out, one engineer told me, there are 57 signals that Google looks at everything from what kind of computer you’re on, to what kind of browser you’re using, to where you’re located—that it uses to personally tailor your query results. Think about it for a second. There is no standard Google anymore. And you know, the funny thing about this is that it’s hard to see. You can’t see how different your search results are from anyone else’s. But a couple of weeks ago, I asked a bunch of friends to Google ‘Egypt’ and to send me screenshots of what they got. So here’s my friend Scott’s screen shot. And here’s my friend Daniel’s screen shot. When you put them side-by-side, you don’t even have to read the links to see how different these two pages are. But when you do read the links, it’s really quite remarkable. Daniel didn’t get anything about the protests in Egypt at all in his first page of Google results. Scott’s results were full of them. And this was the big story of the day at that time. That’s how different these results are becoming. - Now, wait. Explain that again. I mean, that is astounding. So you go in, the uprising is happening in Egypt, in fact today there’s a mass protest in Tahrir Square. They’re protesting the military council and other issues. So if I look and someone who likes to travel look, they may not even see a reference to the uprising? - That’s right. I mean there was nothing in the top 10 links. And actually the way that people use Google, most people use just those top 3 links. So if Google isn’t showing you, sort of, the information that you need to know pretty quickly you can really miss it. It’s not just Google and Facebook either. This is something that’s sweeping the Web. There are a whole host of companies that are doing this kind of personalisation. Yahoo News, the biggest news site on the Internet, is now personalised—different people get different things. Huffington Post, the Washington Post, the New York Times, all flirting with personalisation in various ways. And this moves us very quickly toward a world in which the Internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see. As Eric Schmidt said, “It’ll be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.” So I do think this is a problem. And I think, if you take all of these filters together, if you take all these algorithms, you get what I call a Filter Bubble. And your Filter Bubble is kind of your own personal unique universe of information that you live in online. And what’s in your Filter Bubble depends on who you are, and it depends on what you do. But the thing is that you don’t decide what gets in, and more importantly, you don’t actually see what gets edited out. - We’ve never seen technology like the scenario we’re in right now. This little black mirror that we carry around in our pockets, the smartphones—that’s all you. That’s all about you and your preferences and the websites you want to look at. And we become insular, we become very intolerant of others. The technology that we carry with us and that we are consuming at record rates right now, encourages entitlement and encourages a lack of respect of other people’s boundaries. - The Screen Culture makes people look within and not to look outside. So when I’m using my smartphone, and I’m being sent instant messages, and I’m being communicated to, it’s about me. And people can say, “That’s great for personalisation, that’s how I want it, I want to customise my whole life,” but in fact, we’re internalising a lot of things. If I think about me than most likely I will neglect my children, I will neglect my partner, I will neglect my workplace, because it’s about me and my interactions and the instantaneous communications that take place. There’s always a danger in that—in ignoring your neighbour, in a lack of collective awareness. It’s about insular things. What you’re doing is removing your ability to think, removing your ability to meditate and be peaceful about things because you’re constantly being bombarded by messages, which are relevant and irrelevant, you’re constantly thinking that these are more urgent than the baby crying in the next room who requires milk or food, and the Screen Culture just propagates itself. So in order for me to internalise my communications and look down and keep texting, and keep messaging back, I also impose the same culture on my children because I just tell them to go look at the TV for a little while longer, go onto the Internet, search some more things, go onto playground and look at some music. So I am spreading this mimicry. And so when my senses are enveloped, and it’s about me and my communications, it’s not about my children, it’s not about my partner, is not about my workplace, it’s about me, and I think there’s a great danger in trust within society, in building relationships with one another, or a lack of building, when we are concerned about the Me. - The Me has been a target of corporate power for a long time. Advertising after the Second World War changed into instilling desires and manipulating the masses to want things and see the world in a certain way. From where the computer and the Internet originated, this is in hyper-drive of the world of the Screen Culture where not only the convergence of technologies has amplified the power and influence of corporate voice, the Screen Culture provides a centralised mechanism of social control pretending to be freedom and democracy. - We tend to think about the Internet as this sort of medium where anybody can connect to anyone, it’s this very democratic medium, it’s a free-for-all, and it’s so much better than that old society with the gatekeepers that were controlling the flows of information. Really, that’s not how it’s panning out. What we’re seeing is that a couple of big companies... most of the information is flowing through a couple of big companies that are acting as the new gatekeepers. These algorithms do the same thing that the human editors do, they just do it much less visibly and with much less accountability. - And with a level of fine-tuning an individual customisation never before possible. - They have a lot of the same dynamics that are driving what they show people and what they hide from people as the old media did. How these things are architected have huge consequences that are political. - The Filter Bubble puts you at the centre of what seems like a vast world of connectivity and relevance But really, you’re in a walled information garden, a holding cell of two-way mirrors, a giant echo chamber. What happens to our communities, our relationships, the culture, if we’re all walking around in mirror cocoons with this hyper-individualism? This lack of collective awareness? - There’s this thing called confirmation bias which is basically our tendency to feel good about information that confirms what we already believe, and you can actually see this in the brain, people get a little dopamine hit when they’re told that they’re right, essentially. So if you were able to construct an algorithm that could show people whatever you wanted, and if the only purpose was actually to get people to click more and to view more pages, why would you ever show them something that makes them feel uncomfortable, makes them feel like they may not be right, makes them feel like there’s more to the world than our own little narrow ideas? - And doesn’t that in effect reinforce polarisation within the society in terms of people not being exposed to and listening to the viewpoints of others that they may disagree with? - Right. I mean, you know, democracy really requires this idea of discourse, of people hearing different ideas and responding to them and thinking about them, and I come back to this famous Daniel Patrick Moynihan quote where he says everybody’s entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. It’s increasingly possible to live in an online world in which you do have your own facts, and you Google climate change and you get the climate change links for you. And you don’t actually get exposed necessarily, you don’t even know what the alternate arguments are. - As we willingly pour our lives into the screen, the screens not only simply reflect this more of the same, it’s strengthening corporate power, studying and analysing us inside this playpen, projecting into our individually targeted mirror world. We become the product of the consumer culture in totality. - There’s a myth online that what we’re doing is free. All that’s happened is the place that revenue and value is extracted from us has been shifted. - Everything we do on a computer produces a transaction record. Whether it’s your laptop, whether it’s your phone, whether it’s an ATM machine, a toll booth, using your credit card, anything with a computer creates a transaction record. Data is a by-product of all of our information society’s socialisation. Increasingly, company’s computers are mediating all of our social interactions. And all of this data is increasingly stored and increasingly searchable. - And this is not only where social control centres from via a screen culture, it’s where our value is ultimately extracted, turned into huge profits. And we think this is a good deal. We get so much for what we think is free. Think about your digital trails. What did you do today that involved a computer a screen? Your choice or not? The screens are always watching, saving. Example. When you browse the Web, if a page has that Like button, Facebook collects information about where you visit, even if you’re not on Facebook. The fact that you’ve been somewhere, Facebook knows because the Like button is there, and even if you don’t click. It’s been loaded from Facebook’s servers. They know. And this information is used to shape your experience. The same is true for Google. The millions upon millions of websites that run Google ads, or use Google Analytics software, or make use of any Google code, YouTube video, search buttons or images—if anything touches Google, Google knows. Think about all of those websites, across the Internet, that these companies track, analyse, dominate and influence. How are our lives shaped by this? And how do we even know what’s happening behind the scenes? We’ve become so sparing in our understanding of these technologies, these corporate interests and how they wrap around our lives. What happens when I click this button? - The product online is not the content. The product online is you! The product online are the eyeballs looking at that content and as much information about how to influence the hands connected to those eyeballs as possible. You know, an average kid today, you look at Facebook and you think, “Oh look at this place, Facebook is here to help me make friends, isn’t that great? This is what this is for.” The distance between the user and the program is so great, we don’t even know what the programs we’re using are for. Talk to little Johnny and he thinks that Facebook is there to help him make friends? Go to Facebook, what do you think they’re talking about there? How are we going to help little Johnny make more friends? Deeper lasting human relationships? No! They’re thinking: how are we going to monetise Johnny’s social graph? How are we going to use big data to predict what Johnny’s going to do and then sell Johnny’s future to himself before he knows he’s there himself? - What you have with the Internet is a world on the one hand where a lot of young men, and they tend to be young men, spout a lot of nonsense in my view about democratisation and egalitarianism and the opening up of everything, on the other hand these young men are becoming infinitely rich and powerful. - Does this concern you? A convergence of corporate and state information power that old media empires could only dream of. - There is right now a huge huge commercial push, or corporate push, to collect as much data as possible. - Right now the default rule for Google, and pretty much all of its competitors, is that they keep everything. They have a log of every search made through Google since it started in the dorm rooms at Stanford. What you Google for defines you. A log of your searches on Google, or any other search engine, is practically the closest thing to a printout of the contents of your brain that we’ve ever seen. It indicates your political leanings, your religious leanings, your medical concerns, your sexual concerns: a vast array of sensitive data that in the past no one ever had. - Stare into the lights my pretties. The society of the spectacle. Captive populations glued to screens, engineered with ever-increasing precision and insight. - The basic fundamental paradigm of advertising is called one-to-one marketing. That’s what was made possible by the Internet. I can know everything you do and I can reach you at any point. First, in the 90s, it was when you were in front of a computer, but now because of the growth of the Internet and especially mobile devices, I can reach you 24/7. I can reach you and your friends and I can target you and I can engage invisible digital behaviour modification. “Nearly $0.60 of every dollar spent on digital advertising goes to Google and Facebook.” - What sort of Ministry of Truth style world actually exists and would be perpetuated because of these huge powerful engines? Engines that now have global reach, and extensive influence over the information streams accessed by billions of people. Today in the United States, more than 85% of adults get their news from social media, and 64% get news from only one source, usually Facebook. And so the behaviour modification doesn’t just end with advertising, buying stuff, and how we’d be shaped into accepting a single news feed. The Megamachine is much bigger than that. Corporate forces make huge profits not only off the data about who we are and what we do and by shaping us to be subservient consumers, and the cycle goes round and round, this manipulation is now done so well that politics has turned to using the very same methods. The billionaires that are behind politicians for corporate interest who want us to vote a certain way, or depend on a certain political outcome, not only donate huge amounts of money to individual candidates, but tap in to the rich droves of digital data trails about each of us to generate extremely targeted campaigns. - The goal is to come up with an individual level statistical prediction of your likelihood of supporting their candidate or of casting a ballot at all. - Then, they target you for ads. The Obama campaign is widely believed to have had the most sophisticated data mining operation. - And so they created basically a holistic system where they could not just target people, but figure out the best ways to target people. - It’s my privilege to speak to you today about the power of Big Data and psychographics in the electoral process. Back in the days of Mad Men, communication was essentially top-down, that is, it’s ‘creative led.’ Brilliant minds get together and come up with slogans like, “Beans means Heinz” and “Coca-Cola is it” and they push these messages on to the audience in the hope that they resonate. Today, we don’t need to guess at what creative solution may or may not work. We can use hundreds or thousands of individual data points on our target audiences to understand exactly which messages are going to appeal to which audiences way before the creative process starts. We started to look at issue models, predicting which issues, social and political, appeal to which members of the target audience, which voters, we actually assigned different issues to every adult in the entire United States. We could then take these models and put them into a matrix where we can categorise people or segment them according to how they’re likely to behave. Core Trump supporters, top right, may be more susceptible to a donation solicitation. Get-out-the-vote, people who are going to vote Republican but they need persuading to do so. Persuasion audiences: people who need shifting a little bit from the centre towards the right. Once we’ve identified a segment, we can then sub-segment them by the issues that are most relevant to them and then start to target them with specific messages. - Axiom. Quantium. Palantir. The companies behind the companies. The new age of the consumer culture that has also subsumed politics run by data. Seemingly everything is run by data. ‘Technocracy is the new democracy.’ These forces are the pervasive hidden hand in much of the online world, openly bragging about how they can manipulate us with scientific precision on a scale never before possible. - The commercial surveillance system that the advertisers have created all across the world is stunning and a cause for serious alarm. It threatens our civil liberties, it’s about getting us to buy high interest-rate credit cards, junk food, prescription drugs for illnesses we may or may not have, politicians who may or may not be good for us, that’s what all this data is being used for. We have no access to this data, we have no ability to control this information, we can’t challenge it, we can’t correct it. So we’ve allowed the Googles and the Facebooks and the Yahoos to create invisible repositories of information about each and every one of us that they can use, but it’s closed to us. So ultimately it’s not about just selling, it’s about maybe the next evolution of capitalism: creating an undemocratic society. Creeping Normalcy - So the phrase that’s often used, “I’ve got nothing to hide, so I’ve got nothing to fear,” is something that’s often said by people. To that I always say, “You’ve got nothing to fear and nothing to hide until somebody identifies that you have otherwise.” - Excuse me. - What’s up? - What are we doing here? - I’m taking a video. - I’d appreciate if you go somewhere else with that okay? - it’s fine, it’s just a video. - It’s offensive to me. Excuse me, I’m trying to have a private conversation. Could you respect that? - There’s a great deal of information about humans that you don’t want to have widely available, that you want to provide particular protections for. - It’s just a video man. - I hear ya. - Okay. - I’m having a private conversation, would you please move? - We hear this nonsense about the only people who’re concerned about privacy are people with something to hide. Well, yes. How about your password? How about your pin? How about various aspects of your physical person? How about various aspects of your health? Various aspects of your finances? The fact that you’ve got a really really valuable painting in a house that is really easy to break into and that doesn’t have a security system? How about the way your kids go to and from school? What your daughter drinks, and which drink to spike? There’s any number of things that people have to hide. - Do you not understand what I’m saying? It’s a private conversation. - Alright, calm down. - Leave! - Calm down. - Leave! - It’s just a video. - Fuck you! You got it? And the horse you rode in on. Jesus Christ. You have no respect for anybody. What are you going to do, follow me around now? - I should just stay outside their home and start capturing their every move as they interact in their front lawn, their back lawn, anywhere I can see from the front of their yard, and then what I should do is get in my car, put a GPS device on theirs covertly and follow them down the street. And then I should get out at work and say “Hi, it’s me again, I’m wearing the camera, I’m recording you.” And then I should follow them home and then see how they feel the next day when I do the same thing. And the day after that and the day after that. And I think they’ll get really sick of me really quick. - What are you doing? - Just taking a video. - Why are you taking a video without asking us? - What? - Shouldn’t you ask us first before you take a video? - Oh you seem confused. - Yeah, we have this room and you just barge in. - Oh. - Can you leave? Dude, what’s your problem? Can you just leave? - Huh? - Can you ask us why you’re taking a video? - Just taking a video. - Okay, well, I don’t want to be taken a video of. - Why are you so worried about it? - I’m not worried, you’re just being annoying. - Look at it this way. You ever go out to the grocery store? You know how there’s like surveillance cameras everywhere? - Yeah. - That’s not a big deal. - Okay, well... - Just a video. - I know, you’re just being annoying. - Can I ask who you are? - What? - What are you doing? - I’m taking a video. - Of what? - Just a video. - Why are you taking a video of me? - Why not? - I don’t really care for other people to just be taking a random video of me. - Didn’t you just come out of the drug store? - Yeah. - They have cameras in there. - So? - What are you doing? - What are you doing buddy? - You’ve got a photographer chasing you down? - I don’t know who this guy is. - What are you doing? - Hey son. - Hey. Hello?! What are you doing? - I don’t know the guy. - You don’t know him. - He’s been following us and taking like... What are you doing? - Hello? - Why don’t you answer him? Hello? - Chief. - Hey Chief. What are you doing? - Do you talk? - Do you talk? Hello? - Holy crap. - How are you doing? - I’m good. This is freaking me out. - Yeah I know. - It should be really freaking you guys out. - And this is what the Megamachine does. It follows us everywhere. Tracking, recording, analysing, scrutinising, unanswerable. So why aren’t we pissed off about this in the same way? Is it because the surveillance is diffuse, coming at us at all directions? It’s not a guy with a camera right in front of our eyes. - What are you taking a picture for? - It’s something that’s been normalised in slow incremental stages, a kind of creeping normalcy, hidden in plain sight. - Most people who go about their everyday life are oblivious to CCTV cameras. - Getting a picture like that of someone. You can’t... The person is not going to be able to question what’s going on... - Even mobile CCTV now on police cars. And what that’s called is a novelty effect—it wears off. So if something is new, I look up and I think “Oh, it’s new, it’s invaded my space,” just like when telegraphs were introduced and people saw terrestrial lines that carried voice calls. Wow, what are these things, you know? We see windmills today and we think, oh wow, a windmill. Or we see other infrastructure and we think, aren’t those base-stations at the top of the building looking ugly? So we do notice these things initially, but we become oblivious to them over time. I don’t notice base-stations anymore and I used to work very closely with where base-stations went. - For mobile phones? - For mobile phones. The novelty effect wears off and with that wearing off, we become immune, and we forget to question what is going on. - The Jews who lived in Holland in 1939 had nothing to fear from a database that identified them as being Jews. Well they don’t have anything to fear now ‘cause they’re all dead, with very few exceptions. The people who had reasonable educational qualifications in Cambodia in the 70s had nothing to fear. What’s there to fear about knowing that you’ve got a certificate of an advanced diploma? Well, most of them are dead too. In Rwanda/Burundi it was being thought to be of a particular ethnic background. Now it’s not terribly easy for people to tell ethnic backgrounds when they’re tribal and they’re adjacent and they’ve been adjacent for hundreds and even thousands of years. But the decision was made that you were of that ethnic persuasion therefore you were dead. Now these are just the sharp end, where the worst case of invasion of privacy occurs and you get killed. There’s lots and lots of circumstances where obscure bits of information do harm the people that somewhat less than killing them. Misinterpretation of, “Oh you’ve got a criminal record oh we can’t hire anybody with a criminal record.” Well, you’ve got to work out what that was for. There have been people who had a criminal record because they were demonstrators against the Vietnam War or they were demonstrators against apartheid in South Africa, who once it has become apparent to the employer why they had a criminal record, they were instantly hired. You’ve got understand the full background of the circumstances. There’s tests of relevance, there’s tests of accuracy, precision and so on. Now, information is complex and delicate and its use is complex and delicate. So when we look at personal information and we look at the use of personal data and the interpretation of personal data, we’ve got to be very very careful. Everybody has got something to hide. And everybody will discover in the coming years—5, 10 and 15 years from now— that some of the things they didn’t think they needed to hide would’ve been better off hidden, because they’ve suffered because of that information’s availability. It’s a delicate flower, we’ve got to be careful with people. “The Internet has become the world’s largest surveillance network.” - A lot of people say, well I’m not doing anything so it doesn’t matter. Well you may not be doing anything now but you can’t say anything contrary to the administrative position because you may become a target. And if you do that and you become a target they’ve already assembled all this back-data on you, now they can start looking for some way to charge you with some kind of criminal act, or harass you in some way, like at the border… or internally here, they can harass you through businesses. Things like that. All that is a very, it’s a real danger when government assembles that kind of knowledge about its citizenry. I mean, from my background, the KGB, the Stasi, the SS, and the Gestapo, they could never have dreamt of having such an ability to monitor the population. That’s the real threat. - Can you imagine that a guy from the NSA is actually saying that all of their enemies before put together is essentially less than what they have built to deploy on all of us? - Surveillance is much more pervasive in our online lives than it is in our offline lives, and I think a lot of, you know, most people in the United States and the Democratic West are not aware of that. Because when police officers come into your house or come into your office and they go through your files, they go through your desk, they go through your drawers and cabinets, it’s pretty obvious that happened. If they do the equivalent, in your email, in your online storage spaces and your Facebook, you don’t know. You have no idea it ever happened, so you’re not going to raise a fuss about it. - In a way there’s kind of a self-surveillance that I think that young people don’t think about in political terms. But it is a political issue. People put their lives on the screen, they put really intimate details of their lives out there, and with very little thought that there might be people using that information in ways that are not benign. - That’s why I say there will always be another bigotry. That is to say, you don’t know what in some future environment you will be accused of being. Possibly being in favour of heterosexuality will one day be a bad thing. Having been a member of a particular church, which has become discredited, could become a bad thing which could be a black mark, which could result in you not being able to, for example, join the public service. Those sorts of things have happened in the past, and they’ve happened in many countries including in Australia. Do we really want to be gifting that kind of history forever to a corporation? Now of course, those people who use Facebook, and put stuff on Facebook that invades their own privacy, embarrasses them when they apply for jobs 3 years later, and indeed embarrasses their friends when their friends apply for jobs 3 years later, the people who do those kinds of things on Facebook might well say, so what? I think in 3 years’ time, or 5 years’ time, or 15 years’ time, those people are going to look at it differently. They’re going to be saying, “But surely you’re not going to take notice of that rubbish? I was off my face when I was young, aren’t people supposed to get off their face when their young?” That’s the attitude that many of us have. Young people are always more happier with risks than older people are, and that’s the same person—the older one is more risk averse than the younger one was. Yes, I and many of my friends before I had a grey beard did lots of stupid things. I had the advantage that they were only visible in a limited space because the ability to film things was nothing like then what it is now, and they were not only limited in space, they were limited in time, because they weren’t recorded and they weren’t subsequently available to anybody, except by word of mouth. So I’m protected. My youth is alright. All the things I did that were stupid in my youth aren’t up there on Facebook, and won’t be, and they aren’t in Gmail. But the current generation are facing a different thing. They’re facing capture and recording and retention in ways that we think is quite inappropriate, it runs quite against the grain for humans. - Somebody told me that they can listen to what we’re saying by my having this, even if it’s turned off. - Yes. Here’s the real grand design. Every domain. Think of a domain as an activity, a specific type of activity. Phone calls. Or banking is another domain. So if you think of graphing each domain and then, each graph, then turning it in the 3rd dimension, the trick now is to map through all the domains in that 3rd dimension, pulling together all the attributes that any individual has in every domain, so that now I can pull your entire life together. The purpose is to monitor, be able to monitor, what people are doing. you build social networks for everybody that then turns into the graph, and then you index all that data to that graph, which means you can pull out a community, and that gives you an outline of the life of everybody in the community. And if you carry it over time from 2001 up, you have that 10 years’ worth of their life that you could lay out in a timeline. That involves anybody in the country. The dangers here are that we fall into something like a totalitarian state like East Germany. - That’s actually the creepy thing about surveillance, like pre-emptive surveillance. You can find anything about someone. You can make stuff up. You just collect all this material and you can go back later and interpret it in so many ways, and so everybody can become the enemy instantaneously. - Where are we while all this is happening right in front of our eyes? Are we paying attention? - One of the big questions of our age I think, is whether the Internet is helping make people more informed. And clearly we all have a lot more access to information, but is that information turning into a better informed citizenry that’s better able to make decisions about the important issues that we all face? And at this point we have a lot of data on this, and I think we can actually say, it’s not really. Pew did a big study of the differences in people’s informedness about foreign affairs before and after the Internet. So they looked at 1989 and 2007 and they found that on many metrics actually people dropped in terms of their ability to... in terms of their knowledge of foreign affairs, and that’s really weird because right now, you know, it’s as easy to go to De Zeit or Le Monde as it is to go to the New York Times. There’s no barrier to entry here. And yet, the percentage of Americans who know the name of the Russian president has actually dropped by like 10 percentage points. And of course this isn’t just a problem of informedness about foreign affairs, you know, and we’ve all seen these studies, Americans are pretty poorly informed about domestic affairs as well. 44% can’t define the Bill of Rights; Americans want to cut foreign aid from what they think it’s at, about 30%, to about 14% of the budget. Actually it’s way less than 1%. And so we have this this this real challenge of informedness. - We have a situation in which a significant percent population doesn’t vote, doesn’t care about the issues, is tuned out entirely, is what we call de-politicised. In fact, we have a rate of de-politicisation in the United States that must make a tyrant like in, you know, Indonesia envious. They’d say, how can I get one of these vegged out populations? “This evidence was filmed in March of 1995: Children watching television.” - We adopt without realising what the repercussions are to our everyday life. And the more we become ingrained in this new technology, in this Web, in this Internet of everything, we are actually becoming commodified subjects whereby our patterns and trends are analysed and that data is then sold to others so that they can manipulate us. It’s an information manipulation of the Individual, it’s an exploitation of sorts. - And we also don’t grow up in a culture that encourages critical thought or radical thought or really any thought. - Well what about the responses of those who run these search engines, that they’re merely responding to the interests and needs of the people who use the system? - Well, you know, I think, they say, “We’re just giving people what we want,” and I say, well what do you mean by what we want because I think actually all of us want a lot of different things. And there’s a short-term sort of compulsive self that clicks on the celebrity gossip and the, you know, more trivial articles, and there’s a longer-term self that wants to be informed about the world and be a good citizen. And those things are intension all the time, they’re, you know, we have those two forces inside us. And the best media helps us, it helps the long-term self get an edge a little bit. It gives us some information vegetables and some information dessert, and you get a balanced information diet. This is like you’re just surrounded by empty calories, by information junk food. - You wouldn’t ever believe that Facebook is a place to create friends without knowing that there are a whole lot of other motivations around it. - I really think that Facebook needs to be focused on building the best experiences for people around the world. - That’s one of the reasons why people talk about media literacy, you know, that’s one of the reasons why we try to teach children that advertising isn’t telling you that a certain breakfast cereal is good for you because it’s good for you, it’s trying to tell you that it’s... because they want you to buy it, and the chances are it’s not good for you because it’s full of sugar that’s why it tastes so nice, you know. - So the same is true for Facebook then? -Well... - It’s full of sugar and it tastes so nice. - Psychologists and biologists have constructed many different models of behaviour. For the sake of consistency, we shall describe only one of them: the model of behaviour theory associated with B.F. Skinner. - My name is Skinner and I’m a behaviourist. As such I study rats, pigeons, children, and adults. Naturally the brain plays an important role in bridging the gap between what has happened to a person and his current behaviour. - Most of the early work in behaviour theory used the white rat as a subject and so does much that is being done today. This is a final performance of a rat already trained to press the lever. Each response is reinforced and the rat has established a pattern of pressing with the right paw that involves little wasted effort. The main thing is what we call ‘schedules of reinforcement.’ Reinforcement is what the layman calls reward. And you can schedule it so that a reward occurs every now and then when a pigeon does something. We usually use a response with a pigeon pecking a little disk, a little spot on the wall, and you can reinforce with food. But, you don’t reinforce every time... perhaps every 10th time, or perhaps only once every minute or something like that. There are a very large number of schedules and they have their special effects. And there is a good example of how you can move from the pigeon to the human case. Because, one of the schedules which is very effective is what we call the ‘variable ratio schedule’ and that is at the heart of all gambling devices, and has the same effect. A pigeon can become a pathological gambler, just as a person can. Now the fact that we’ve found that out with pigeons, and could prove it by removing and changing the schedule, makes it easy for us to interpret the case with the human subject. We don’t say that the human subject gambles to punish himself as the Freudians might say, or gambles because he feels excited when he does so. Nothing of the sort. People gamble because of the schedule of the reinforcement that follows, and this is true of all gambling systems, they all have variable ratios built into them. - If you’re using the metaphor of Las Vegas slot machines, it’s one thing for a person to make a choice to get into a car, to drive to a casino, to get out, and to play the slot machines there. It’s another thing if there’s a slot machine baked into or right next to the moment-to-moment choices and thoughts that they have to make. A slot machine is persuasive because it operates on a principle of intermittent variable reward, which means that you pull some lever, and sometimes you get an exciting enticing reward and other times you don’t. And it’s exactly when it’s unpredictable, when uncertainty is maximised, that people get the largest rush and the largest addictiveness is created when it’s a variable reward, an intermittent variable-schedule reward. And your phone works the same way. You check your phone and sometimes it’s like, “Oh I got a text message from the girl I’m trying to date,” or “I got this exciting new TED talk on my phone,” or something, and then sometimes you check your phone and it’s like nothing. And so each time we don’t know if we’re going to strike gold and win, or we won’t. And it’s very persuasive. Every app, every website, every service is competing ultimately for attention, even if you’re building meditation app. Your goal is to hook people so that they meditate every day, they open the app every day. If you’re the New York Times, you need people to visit every day. If you’re an addictive game or Facebook you need people to come every day and to stay as long as possible. So everyone is competing for the one finite resource that we all have which is attention or our time. What’s the best way to get attention? It’s to be better and better at persuading people, at tapping into more and more of these psychological instincts, so that people come back and stay. You wake up in the morning and one of the first things people do is they turn their phone over and they check it. And that programs their whole mind to think about their day, about what they owe to the world, the obligations they have to repay. And whenever we have a break in time, we don’t know what to think about so we often check our phone to see: what should I be thinking about, who can I get back to? So what would typically happen with persuasion was it was a billboard or something like that, so there was a moment where you’re driving and you see something and it changes your beliefs about a product. That’s one kind of persuasion, but another way is when it’s actually influencing the contents of your mind moment to moment. - And this is what Skinner talks about and envisaged in the 1950s. Society can be acculturated and programmed using powerful forms of persuasion based on addiction and reward. - Professor Skinner has even written a novel, Walden Two, his vision of a whole society, programmed on the reward system, behaving infallibly, and being happy doing it. - Skinner has a very ingenious way of making a system of highly compulsive organisations seem as though it were a very humane one. This is his great and original contribution. The old-fashioned mechanical collectives, the megamachines as I call them, were brutal. They used punishment as a way of enforcing conformity. Skinner and the psychological school that he represents have found a much better system than punishment. They first tried it out on animals and now they’re applying it to human beings, reward them. Make them do exactly what you want them to do without the whip, but with some form of sugar-coated drug or candy which will make them think that they’re actually enjoying every moment of it. This is the most dangerous of all systems of compulsion. That’s why I regard Skinner’s Walden Two as another name for Hell, and it would be a worse hell because we wouldn’t realise we were there. We would imagine we’re still in heaven. - It’s all about: how do you make your website or your app stickier, how do you retain attention? Right now it’s measured through these little units of time and clicks, and how long do you sit there. And you think about: what is the logical sort of endpoint that they’re after here? They’re trying to turn everybody into what looks a lot like an addict. When you’re at the machine, your whole bodily posture is different. You’re kind of slumped down, your eyes look a little glazed over, and you’re just repetitively tapping with your finger. And the motivation there is that you’ve really dropped out of the world, you’re just in the rhythm of the play. The next spin and the next spin and the next spin. We all have these sorts of experiences today with machines, I think we’ve all ‘glimpsed the zone’ so to speak, whether it’s trying to buy something in an eBay auction, or playing Candy Crush, it’s this sense that you can just keep going and you don’t know what the next is going to be, you’re on Facebook, you’re photo clicking, you know, you don’t know what’s going to come and you don’t know when. An incredibly small repetitive little loop, and that ludic loop is being used more and more in the world at large, but especially online and websites. Now this would also be the term ‘gamification’ that we always hear about. And the idea is that if you create these little slot-machine-like loops with rewards and levels and bonuses, you’re going to hook people in. And it is true that it has those effects but also with the collateral damage and the consequences. That there’s this little clicking, micro-clicking culture and this sort of value, corporate value is increasingly coming to be measured in terms of clicks and Likes. It’s a kind of nano-monetisation of human experience. - If the thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them to really understand it, that thought process was all about: how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible? And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone Liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever, and that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you more Likes and comments. It’s a social validation feedback loop that... it’s like a... it’s exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. And I just... I think that we... the inventors, creators, you know, it’s me, it’s Mark, it’s Kevin Systrom at Instagram, it’s all of these people, understood this consciously and we did it anyway. - Look at the devolution of... the way we represent ourselves online has devolved from the quirky, personalised HTML webpage, homepage of the ‘90s, to the somewhat modular but still strange presence of a MySpace page, to the completely formatted and market-friendly presence of a Facebook page. What we’ve done is moved from personal, human, open-ended self-expression, to completely market and computer-friendly, regimented and conformist expression. And that’s because we’ve turned the Net from a venue for self-expression, to a way to render ourselves up onto the market. - Hey guys. - What’s up guys? - Hey guys, what is up? - Subscribe to my channel. - Click here to subscribe. - Subscribe! - Screen Culture is not only addictive but obsessive-compulsive addictive. It’s a health problem and we’ve yet to really master even to begin where to ask the questions. It’s taken us 20 years to realise that fast foods cause obesity. This is a well-known fact. Fast food advertising, even in the sports arena, causes obesity. How long is it going to take us to realise the addictive nature of smartphone usage? 5 years, 10 years? Is that going to be too late by then, because the mimicry will have been well entrenched in the next generation? What do you do about that? The thing is you’ve got to do something about it today. - Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. As witness the smoking in the 50s, that was the mantra of the tobacco companies, that there wasn’t any evidence. So that’s the first issue. Second, as a neuroscientist, I think there is evidence certainly the brain will adapt and therefore it’s not an unreasonable assumption that it will adapt in a way that is equipped to survive almost as a computer itself, in a two-dimensional world, where fast responses are mandated, in response to stimulation rather than in a thought. Third, there is actually evidence accumulating. There’s Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, there’s Richard Watson’s Future Minds there’s Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, there’s a brilliant review by Daphne Bavelier in the very high impact journal Neuron from last year, where she suggested that there was a tendency now for increase in distraction, violence, and addiction, related to screen technologies. Now of course one swallow doesn’t make a summer and one can go through all the literature and find fault with some of the studies and show their shortcomings, of course. But we must do this. We must have the debate. - Most of the reactions that have taken place in art, including those that come under the head of the Beatniks and the Hippies, have some underlying sense in the reaction itself that the remedy is part of the disease, the remedy in fact makes it easier for the institutions that now have their hold upon us to be even more compulsive and even more effective than ever before: if we don’t care, if we drop out, if we lose ourselves in insane fantasy of some kinds. We lose our possibility of restoring our own autonomy, of taking charge of our life, because this requires greater energy, greater effort, than that which is required to live through the daily life of a machine worker. We have to become fully activated human beings, every part of us, tremendously alive and ready to take charge, and this can’t be done by people who are in escape, people who have formed the habit of total rejection. We must know what we want, not just what we don’t want. - We are sleepwalking into a world that has become over-reliant on technique. Soon, we will not just be talking about the social implications of technology, but about how society has become technology. We who created the computer, will invite it into our body to govern us, and the machine itself will rule over us. Ladies and gentlemen, I leave you with one final question: who will control this emerging new smart surveillance infrastructure? And what will be the rights of the controlled? The Real World - There’s these transhumanists who believe that someday humans will be incorporated into the machine, and machines and humans will, sort of, be one. And really what I have to say to them, apart from the fact that they’re completely crazy, is that they’re way too late and it’s already happened. We’re already embedded in these machines and we are enthralled to these machines. Think about it. Do you touch plastic or human flesh more often? Or think about it, how many machines do you have daily relationships with? And, on the other hand, how many wild animals do you have daily relationships with? And if you have daily relationships with your machines, you can come to believe that those machines are more important than the real world. - This is what matters. The experience of a product. Will it make life better? - Can you see that? - This, on a phone. - More people connect face to face on the iPhone. - All my students have the brand new Surface. - The more technology can fit into our lives... until every idea we touch... - You should get a PS4. ...enhances each life it touches. - If you only hear things that come from humans or their creations, you can come to believe the humans in their creations are the only ones who exist. And this leads to the same thing that happens to other people who are living in echo chambers, which is if you’re an echo chamber, if you’re under sensory deprivation conditions, you start to hallucinate. Most of our ideologies are hallucinations. - Increasingly the techno-haves are very very distinct from the techno have-nots, where some people on a dollar a day with no access to drinking water, and there’s other people with Gameboy thumbs and Prozac and Botox and so on. And it struck me that this world, leaving aside humanitarian issues, was economically and ecologically not viable. You can’t have a divide like that. - The mythology of technological change really, is that it’s beyond our control. That technology is like one of the great forces of the universe, that it will ‘progress inevitably’ and that all we can do is jump on or jump out the way, you know, that there’s ‘no stopping technology.’ And that is a myth which is propagated to make us feel powerless that we have any say in the way that technology is used, because technology is an expression of the elites of the society that create it. But what we should take from that is that, once we know that the 3 elites that are actually harnessing technological power and spreading this myth that there is nothing we can do about it, then in fact, once we see that for the myth that it is, then we are more able to say: - Resistance is not futile. - This culture will consume the world in order to power these machines. And, you know, it doesn’t require some fiendishly clever conspiracy on the part of machines to do this. What it requires is: I love this line, “Unquestioned assumptions or unquestioned beliefs are the real authorities of any culture,” and all it takes is an unwillingness to question the beliefs on which the system is based. And there’s a great line also by Upton Sinclair. It’s hard to make a man understand something when his job depends on not understanding it. And I would say, it’s hard to make a person understand something when their entitlement depends on them not understanding it, and when their addiction depends on them not understanding it. I think this is all tied to addiction too. The word addiction actually comes from the same root as ‘to enslave,’ because originally a judge would issue an edict causing someone to become a slave, and so they were edicted, addicted. It’s pretty clear when we talk about people who are heroin addicts or something it’s pretty clear that they are enslaved to the addiction. And it’s a little bit less easy to see in ourselves as we spend most of the day staring at a screen. And, it’s also a bit more difficult to see when we talk about some group of people being addicted to power over others, which is what this culture is really based on. - There is no way that technology is neutral. Technology reflects the elites, the passions, the capacities, of the people that create and then continue to use it. Once you start looking at the technology plus the culture, those things together mean that the technology is constructed in a certain way, and it’s understood in a certain way, and it’s used in a certain way. And once you start putting all those things together, then it has a purpose for the people that are talking about it which is far from neutral. Technology is always harnessed to a particular end. Now sometimes that can be positive or negative, but it’s not as simplistic as saying, “Oh, it’s up to people how they use it,” because people can only use it within the constraints of how it’s designed, the knowledge that they have, and the society that they’ve been socialised in. And those 3 things together mean that technology has an actual cultural value which is far from neutral. Until we start asking those questions, you know, what are the social costs and benefits, and who is excluded, and what is the environmental cost of all this? I mean, you know, there are, in terms of the huge amount of a toxic landfill from discarded mobiles, for example. - E-waste in Ghana. - Yes. And, you know, until we start looking at those other pictures in terms of, we look at the way that technology works as a sort of network of connection but instead see it as part of a living world, because technology is not part of that living world, that it has an impact upon that living world, until we see those bigger questions and technology in the broader scheme of things, rather than just as its own story, I think we’re only scratching the surface of the many ways in which we are using it, and we are using it to change ourselves and our futures. - My solution by the way is not to say, “Oh, just everybody turn off their computers,” and the reason that’s not the answer—yeah we need to turn off the computers, but that’s not *the* answer, and the reason that’s not *the* answer is because... we have to recognise at every moment that no matter how much fun I may have playing Left 4 Dead 2 on the computer, or how much fun I may have talking to you, I have to recognise that the computer’s primary purpose is, as you said earlier, where it emerged from, is making war and doing commerce. And all this other stuff is just gravy. And the global economy as it is couldn’t exist without computers and I can turn my computer off and it would not stop the destruction of the planet one little bit. What needs to happen is the entire infrastructure, the entire technics surrounding all this needs to be stopped. And it needs to be... it’s so highly addictive that I think it needs to be destroyed because I believe that people are so addicted to it that they won’t give it up.



The mayor of Pittsburgh is elected to the post in four year terms. The previous mayor, Bob O'Connor, was elected to the position on November 8, 2005 and began to serve January 3, 2006. However, O'Connor was diagnosed with lymphoma of the central nervous system on July 10, 2006.[2] The prognosis was initially good as the mayor began treatment, including chemotherapy, immediately, but O'Connor experienced many complications and died 8:55 PM local time September 1, 2006 at the age of 61.[3] Ravenstahl, president of the city council, was sworn in as the new mayor at 10:36 PM local time, and would serve until a special election would be held to determine if he should complete O'Connor's term.

Primary elections

Primary elections were held for both parties during county-wide elections on May 15, 2007. No candidates ran in the Republican primary, with DeSantis entering the race afterwards.[4] Although it had appeared earlier that councilman Bill Peduto, who ran against O'Connor in the 2005 primary, would challenge Ravenstahl in the Democratic Primary, he dropped out of the race and Ravenstahl won 95.94% of the Democratic primary vote.[4]

Democratic mayoral primary results[4]
Vote total Percentage
Luke Ravenstahl 34,456 95.94%
Write-in 1,459 4.06%

General election

The darkest blue shade represents more than 80% of votes were for Ravenstahl. The middle and lightest shades indicate over 65% and 50%, respectively. The darker shade of red represents more than 70% for DeSantis, the lighter shade of red more than 50%. The general election was held on November 6, 2007 in unusually cold and windy weather which included the city's first snowfall of the year.[5] Voter turnout was estimated to be 28.98%, and very few problems were reported at the polls.[6][7] DeSantis polled well in more affluent areas of the city, such as Squirrel Hill, while Ravenstahl commanded large portions of the vote in the city's black and working class white neighborhoods, such as the Hill District. The race was more competitive than usual in the heavily Democratic city, but was sufficiently one-sided that the Associated Press declared Ravenstahl to be victorious only slightly more than one and a half hours after the polls had closed and only 20% of city precincts had reported voting totals.[8] DeSantis conceded defeat to Ravenstahl shortly after, around 10 PM local time. Despite losing by more than thirty percentage points in general polling, DeSantis's performance was considered quite good for a Republican candidate, indeed the best performance in several decades.[9]

Pittsburgh mayoral special election, 2007[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Luke Ravenstahl 43,257 63.19
Republican Mark DeSantis 23,884 34.89
Socialist Workers Ryan Scott 560 0.80
Libertarian Tony Oliva 504 0.74
Turnout 68,193 28.98
Democratic hold Swing


  1. ^ "About the Mayor". City of Pittsburgh. Archived from the original on 2008-04-19. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
  2. ^ Lord, Rich; Srikameswaran, Anita (2006-07-11). "Mayor faces aggressive treatment for rare cancer". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  3. ^ "Bob O'Connor: A Timeline". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  4. ^ a b c "May 15, 2007 Municipal Election Statistics, Official Results". Allegheny County Board of Elections. 2007-06-05. Archived from the original on 2007-09-14. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  5. ^ Walsh, Lawrence (2007-11-07). "Erie gets Season's First Snowstorm". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  6. ^ a b "Municipal Election, November 6, 2007, Official". Allegheny County Board of Elections. 2007-11-26. Archived from the original on November 9, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  7. ^ McKinnon, Jim (2007-11-06). "Voter Turnout light to moderate; poll problems few". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  8. ^ Lord, Rich (2007-11-06). "Ravenstahl declares victory in Pittsburgh mayor race". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  9. ^ Lord, Rich (2007-11-07). "Ravenstahl cruises to 2 more years as Pittsburgh's mayor". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-11-07.

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Pittsburgh mayoral special election
Succeeded by
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