“… it’s been a 400-year run of genocide and slavery that built the foundation for industrialization. Industrialization moving through all the natural resources, coal, uranium, oil … and moving us into a multinational corporate exploit, and we just got the bill, which is climate change.” – Heather Rae, Indigenous Rights Activist and Filmmaker
If data are the new oil then we may have found a 21st-century revenue stream.
Absent a war or an epidemic, it’s unusual and alarming for life expectancies in developed countries to stop improving, let alone to worsen. “Mortality is sort of the tip of the iceberg,” says Laudan Aron, a demographer and senior fellow at the Urban Institute. “It really is a reflection of a lot of underlying conditions of life.” The falling trajectory of American life expectancies, especially when compared to those in some other wealthy countries, should be “as urgent a national issue as any other that’s on our national agenda,” she says.
Not only in sheer velocity, matter is beginning to mimic information in how it travels across the planet. The advent of the standardised shipping container (“the can”) redefines quantum packets of shipment like bytes. The continuous re-routing of traffic for ride-sharers by Uber mimics packet-switching data networks. The renting of homes by people on AirBnB has something akin to peer-to-peer botnets that have outgrown any chain of hotels. In some sense, information shows matter how to move and, in return, matter tells information where to go.
Not only do algorithmic traders want to be located near trading servers to shave off light-seconds, it has been suggested that “privatised particle accelerators would generate and encode neutrinos in order to bore a sub-molecular pathway through the earth — saving up to 44 milliseconds.” Elon Musk’s proposed three-dimensional, multilayered rhizome of tunnels under Los Angeles is a part of the same philosophy in which, as Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams put it, “The earth itself becomes an impediment, something to be hollowed out in order to facilitate the circulation of capital.”
The official website for the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative.