The Weekest Links : superstition, genetics, disruption

Hello there and welcome to the fifth edition of The Weekest Links. If you're new to the show, be advised that this a highly customized, thought-provoking, lean and compact weekly package of personal choices from around the web. A kind of algorithmic awesomeness filter meets RSS reader with a feminine touch. Live every Monday from the city of Lisbon, right here on the blog.

This week's edition owes much to one of my favorite organizations in the whole wide world, SUPERFLUX, and to its energetic and brilliant Founder and Director, Anab Jain. Two of this edition's links - and probably a lot more in the near future - come from Ms. Jain's recent remix of Design For The New Normal, a long and mind-blowing post about emergent global, cultural, economic, and scientific paradigms. You should just skip my post and go read hers, I don't mind, because what I'll be doing this week is really just cherry-picking some of  the wonderful goodies laid out by Superflux.

But you know what, actually, I do have a couple of original things to say about all this and more, so if you're still here, let's get around to

The week of  the 22nd to the 29th of April, 2013

A Superstitious Fund ( via Superflux)

We needed this, bad. A Superstitious Fund is a stock-trading robot guided by many of the world's superstitions. It's a study of risk, an art installation, a real investment platform that you can subscribe to. Instead of being influenced by supposedly rational (and boring) facts like politics and economics, "the Fund  looks at producing a dialogue around issues such as irrationalities and its consequences as well as providing an alternative view on how technology or algorithms can perform and operate"

An art project by Shing Tat Chung, the Fund is sponsored by Microsoft and GDP Capital. In a world where most of the trading going on at any given time is done by black boxes whose logic is inscrutable to most of us mortals, superstition looks like a refreshing and deeply human approach to robot and machine-orchestrated finance. Take a look, and put your money where the gods are.

DNA Dreams ( via Superflux )

Bregtje van der Haak is a documentary film maker. The Beijing Genomics Institute is one of the world's most important genomic sequencing research centers. The 21st century is a bitch. DNA Dreams is a short film about the work being done in places like the BGI, where human genomes are being shot-gun sequenced, mined, and analyzed for all kinds of interesting patterns, like intelligence and longevity. Genetics is the only frontier worth thinking about, because once we get around to designing our babies and resurrect ancient species it will be safe to say that the game has changed for good. Maybe it already has. You need to watch this film right away, and then go read what Geoffrey Miller told earlier this year about Chinese Eugenics. Then head on to The Verge and read about what Sergey Brin's wife is doing with her company, 23andMe. After that, you might want to get an update on what Craig Venter is doing these days. Then try to get a good night's sleep.

Bruce Sterling on Design Fiction and Real Disruption ( via NEXT13 )

If you've read this show in the past, you already know about my girly crush on Bruce Sterling. His calculated grumpiness and enormous savoir-faire just pushes my intellectual buttons in a way that few men are able to, plus he can write fiction like no other, and it helps that what he has to say is usually daring and brilliant. This time around, Mr. Sterling is in Berlin for the NEXT Conference, whose tag line this year is "Here Be Dragons". No shit. Well, those European tech hipsters sure got what they came for, this is Sterling at his best. Check out his appreciation of design fiction as an almost-replacement for science-fiction, his apparently humble call for categorization of these little viral monsters that haunt the internet with their political imaginings of the near future, but mostly, listen very closely to what is being said about "the tacit allegiance" between favela-like hacker culture and the global offshore financial capital to destroy the nation-state and create a truly global network society. Oh lord, can I get a witness and an amplifier for such terrible and secret wisdom.

Let me say that again: young, cool, innovative entrepreneurs are in an either covert or tacit alliance with the really bad people, the same guys who crashed the planet's economy twice in the last ten years and the same ones who are imposing a global austerity regime on the majority of the middle classes while annihilating civil rights as we know it at the same time. Sounds like an exciting topic to me, but hey, why should you trust this lowly and lonely freelance writer? Sit back, grab a beverage. Watch Bruce Sterling break it down, I promise you won't regret it. You might even get to like the guy.


Another promise: we'll be back next week with some more interesting and radical stuff. 
This is, live from Lisbon. It's that kind of radio.

Alice Politics