Techno-Social Despotism in China vs Decentralized Credentials, Reputation, and Trust

What they are doing in China using technology to modify and mold social behavior is both ingenious and amazing, but also terrifying. This article from Wired is long, but worth the read:


Basically, companies and the government in China are developing a technology-driven “Social Credit Score” that they can use together with concepts of gamification to socially engineer the views and behaviors of people on a massive scale. In some ways it is kind of like Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984, but instead of fear and oppression, it uses social, economic, and psychological incentives to create a more subtle and manipulative despotism.

I think it is likely that, as the article suggests, this kind of centralized reputation based social engineering will eventually come to the United States.

Meanwhile, individuals in Utah and elsewhere are currently working on technology that could revolutionize identity, reputation, and trust using open source software called Sovrin that uses an ingenious combination of cryptography and a public ledger technology similar to the blockchain used by bitcoin. Continue reading

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Category: technology
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Virtue Signalling, Moral Fatigue, Outrage Addiction, and Favorite Sins

This isn’t aimed at anyone in particular and it isn’t meant as an attack on those of you who have expressed sincere outrage online about past or current events. It’s just something that I have been thinking and worrying about lately.

In a world of billions of people, there are far more atrocious things happening at any given moment than the human mind can possibly comprehend and deal with.  At the same time, we are very bad at evaluating proportion, cost, and cause and effect.

We tend to choose to be outraged about certain atrocities while ignoring many, many others. Often our outrage is directed and manipulated by news, propaganda, or circumstances. Every few weeks, or even every few days, there is a new trending topic about which everyone must be outraged and about which everyone must comment publicly through social media. Continue reading

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Category: thoughts
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A Dream – The Restaurant at the End of Civilization

This is a real dream that I had last night and not just a composition.

Last night I had a dream that a new high-end restaurant opened in town that specialized in gourmet meals made from human excrement. It soon became the most popular restaurant in town. I found myself there for a work-related lunch. The beautiful menu was full of elegantly named dishes that sounded wonderful. The food looked delicious– meticulously prepared by the best chefs. Not only was the restaurant forthright about the fact that the primary ingredient in all of their dishes was human feces, they insisted that human excrement was organic, natural, and healthy — citing scientific studies in which gut flora was restored by using fecal transplants. Continue reading

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Category: thoughts
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Some Advice For My Friends Who Are Spending Every Day Frantically Posting Anti-Trump Links– And For Everyone Else Sharing Information On The Internet Too

War News from Mexico (1848) by Richard Caton Woodville

Our human minds crave logical completeness. We want everything to fit into a tidy explanatory map. We also have a natural fascination with the sensational and controversial. We are drawn to reports of misdeeds or misfortune. We love to expose conspiracies, dirty secrets, and gossip.

It is easy to get emotionally drunk on outrage and anger. We can be so inebriated on indignation that our vision becomes distorted and we become sloppy about information.

My advice to you is to slow down. Be wary of information that appeals to that natural affinity for the sensational and sordid. Avoid jumping to hasty conclusions. Continue reading

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Category: politics
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LDS Conference April 1975 – Giving Our Lives Every Day

This is my contribution to this week’s General Conference Odyssey. My previous contributions can be found here. Posts by other bloggers writing about the April 1975 General Conference today are linked at the end of this post.  You can also visit the project group on Facebook.

Today we are writing about the Saturday Morning Session of the April 1975 Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In April of 1975, Robert D. Hales was called as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.The Saturday Morning Session of April 1975 was the first time he ever spoke in conference. He would later serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy and then as the Presiding Bishop before being called to be an Apostle in April 1994.

He explained that initially President Marion G. Romney had called his wife and him to serve a mission in London. But a few weeks later he received a telephone call from the prophet: Continue reading

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