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Metaversal Truths

I made it about halfway through Meta’s promotional video for its metaverse project before quitting, a little shaken by the misanthropic future it promised.


Both Everywhere and Somewhere

There are endless ways to lose your sense of place. A common one goes something like this: You call an Uber to get across town. You track the driver’s arrival on your phone and, once in the car, answer texts and watch a video on YouTube. You aren’t exactly disconnected—you’re attuned to some version of reality—but you’re oblivious to physical geography. You are not alone in this behavior

<i>The Hidden Girl and Other Stories</i>. By Ken Liu. Gallery/Saga, 2020. 432p. HB, $26

On the Necessity of Science Fiction

As I write this, a deadly virus that originated in bats from central China has brought the global economy to its knees, silenced world capitals, halted air travel, and killed over two hundred thousand people. The largest economic-stimulus package in American history—three trillion dollars (in the first round), designed to bring the US economy back from the brink—is yesterday’s news. The novel coronavirus has killed more Americans in three months than were killed fighting in the Vietnam War. 

Comic by Ali Fitzgerald

Our Deepfake Future

March 2, 2020

Deepfakes—videos altered by artificial intelligence—have begun warping our reality.

Dr. Subbarao Kambhampati, researcher and professor at Arizona State University and former president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence: “We can’t just believe everything we see. And in some sense, until now that was possible.”

Illustration by Amy Friend

Lord of the WASPs

My grandmother bought her first island in 1952. It was eight acres in the shape of a meaty drumstick, a hunk of sunbaked granite off the eastern shore of the Georgian Bay, in southern Ontario.

Mapping: California’s Techno-Sublime

Those who complain about California from the outside tend to single out its hippies and bohemians. But when Californians complain about Californians, the eye-rolling is more frequently directed at a (supposedly) new class of slick and humorless “te [...]

A Modern Prometheus

July 31, 2009

There was the patient, but instead of being surrounded by the surgical team, she was enveloped by the metal arms of a multi-million-dollar robot resembling a giant octopus.