ENGINEERING UTOPIA: CHINA’S PROJECT FOR DESIGNING ‘TRUSTWORTHINESS’

by Justin Reynolds

Visions of a great civilisation enjoying ‘peace under heaven’ have haunted the Chinese imagination from the time of the sages to today, when President Xi Jingping’s ‘China Dream’ of a prosperous ordered nation is propagated ceaselessly by the state-controlled media.

Here hypermodernity is filtered through ancient virtues. China’s gleaming new cities, high-speed rail links and technology parks are studded with billboards urging honesty, modesty and filial piety. Its vast wired economy is screened for decadent Western influences, blocking Facebook, Google and YouTube, and magazines infatuated with celebrity gossip or ‘crude language’. This year the ‘Great Firewall of China’ was reinforced when the state banned VPN services used by millions to break through to the global web.

Now China is finetuning the ultimate technological fix for designing a virtuous society: a ‘Social Credit System’ that will use the data produced by a population of some 1.4 billion citizens in the course of their daily interactions with digital services to rank them according to ‘trustworthiness’.Continue Reading

TRUMPOCALYPSE NOW?

by Faizal Nor Izham

It’s barely two months after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, and things are already starting to look worryingly apocalyptic.

Where do we begin? Shortly after he was instated, one of his first moves resembled an environmental assault, by approving the final permit for the Dakota Access pipeline.Then the promise of building the Mexican wall. The ‘Muslim ban’ came next. And finally, fanning the flames of war with Iran.Continue Reading

EVERYDAY DOUBLETHINK – ONLINE LIFE AND ALTERNATIVE FACTS

By Sam Naylor

Kellyanne Conway has been making headlines this week. Sent out to explain away Sean Spicer’s bizarre comments regarding the crowds at Trump’s inauguration, she said “we feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there”. Alternative facts, huh? How’s this:

Last week saw the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America, Bernie Sanders. As the world witnessed the honesty and good intentions of the new administration firsthand over the next few days, sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surged (it sold out on Amazon). Commentators were broadly bemused. Why, with a president of unparalleled frankness ascending to the Oval Office, was a narrative of lies and alternative facts, paradoxes and doublethink, a story of a nation which unashamedly proclaimed “War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength, becoming so popular?

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HOME OFFICE STATEMENT

by Rob Harding

(Note: The below is based on an actual statement released by the Home Office, which can be found in its unadulterated version here. The adulterator takes no responsibility for the government seeing that you’ve visited this web page, even though they will)

Dear Concerned Citizen

The Investigatory Powers Act dramatically increases transparency around the use of investigatory powers by making it so we can see everything. It protects both privacy and security for MPs only and underwent an unprecedentedly low level of scrutiny before becoming law because everyone was distracted with Brexit.

The Government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat (Current threat level: Be Very Afraid, Trust Us. We Won’t Tell You Why), it is essential our law enforcement, security and intelligence services have the powers they need to keep people safe. And the powers they need to see what you’ve been doing on the internet even if you aren’t a criminal. Maybe you’re buying them Christmas presents but they hate surprises. Have you thought of that?Continue Reading

DYSTOPIAN FUTURES; HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

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By Sam Naylor

I’ve always felt an affinity towards the sci-fi and fantasy universe and embracing all of the nerdy stereotypes that are bestowed to Trekkies and Excelsiors alike. The out-of-this-world-experience that mediums such as superhero comics or dystopian literature can offer young people is a form of much needed escapism.

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