The geopolitics of Elon Musk

China's economic long Covid, questions about the place in you live, the opposite of loneliness (#453)

This happens to be one of these weeks where I spent some time on the web, just to make sure you learn about what you shouldn't miss. Let's go.

Oh, and we have the second edition of my attempt to surface what versions of the future AI tools gravitate towards. This week, a haiku and an illustration on the future of food production.

1. Elon Musk’s Shadow Rule

An excellent, in-depth profile of Elon Musk. It tells the story of a determined, wildly successful man, deeply lonely, increasingly spiralling out of control – all while being in control of critical infrastructure with wide geopolitical ramifications.

Elon Musk’s Shadow Rule
How the U.S. government came to rely on the tech billionaire—and is now struggling to rein him in.

2. The end of the Chinese financial miracle?

What is happening with China's economy? And where might it go from here? The David McWilliams provides a good big picture analysis. The key assumption: China has «economic long Covid».

The end of the Chinese financial miracle? - The David McWilliams Podcast
China’s economic growth is far from what it used to be and cracks are currently appearing in a variety of sectors. Has China’s heroic growth in the last decades finally come to an inflection point? Join us as we break down what is currently happening and where it might go. Join the gang! https://plu…

3. The Big Here Quiz

Something to ponder and explore over the weekend: 30 questions to elevate your awareness (and literacy) of the greater place in which you live. Point North. How many people live in your watershed? Where does the pollution in your air come from?

The Big Here Quiz
You live in the big here. Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome. … Continue reading →

4. The Opposite of Loneliness

«We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. [...] It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team.» A beautiful short essay, and heartbreaking to read that the author, 22 years old, died in an accident just a few days after writing it.

KEEGAN: The Opposite of Loneliness
The piece below was written by Marina Keegan ’12 for a special edition of the News distributed at the class of 2012’s commencement exercises last […]

5. Slum photos were weaponised against the people they depict

It's a thin line between documenting suffering and injustice to raise awareness, and exploiting the people depicted in the images (the iconic image of the «Afghan Girl» is an infamous example). Sometimes, it's not a thin line: This historical essay describes how slum photography was explicitly used against the people it showed, to make their lives worse.

Slum photos were weaponised against the people they depict | Aeon Essays
Slum photography was at the heart of progressive campaigns against urban poverty. And it was a weapon against poor people

What else?

  • Fascinating: A hurdles sprint race from start to finish, in one single image.
  • Most of the stars in the sky started emitting light long before you were born. What if each star could tell you what was happening on Earth when its light started racing towards our planet? Stories from the Night Sky.
  • Travel around the world, virtually.
  • Quite the bookstore (for people with very long arms, I suppose?)
  • In my ears all week: Moving On, by Explosions in the Sky

The Future of...Food Production

Future crops take flight
Tech and nature blend as one
Feast evolves, sustains.

The Haiku is produced using ChatGPT, the illustration is made with Midjourney. Apart from formal instructions, the prompts are as simple as "The future of...x".

A gem from the archive

This alone gives you a weekend full of interesting reads. 174 answers to the 2014 Edge-question «What Scientific Idea Is Ready For Retirement?».

Thanks for reading. I wish you a nice weekend and hope to see you again next Friday!

— David 👋

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