Every Woman Should Have the Opportunity to Freeze Her Eggs
This week, tech giants Apple and Facebook announced that they’ll now pay for female employees who want to have their eggs frozen. It’s a big move, even for Silicon Valley, where companies already boast such perks as on-site medical care, barber shops and, in Facebook’s case, a dedicated “culinary team.”
The message is: Freeze your eggs, ladies, and don’t worry about working around the clock through your fertile years! It’s a win-win, right? Possibly. But it’s also problematic.
Overlooking the obvious (having babies and good careers should not be mutually exclusive), the move seems to confirm many fears clustered around class difference and fertility—i.e. if you don’t have thousands saved, or don’t work for a giant corporation and yet still want to be ambitious in your field, you might end up childless.
SHOULD I TRY TO FIND TRUE LOVE ON TINDER?
If you were asking me a year ago, I would have said, “Sure, loser.” But it is 2014, and Tinder is now a platform for people to make jokes, take screenshots of their jokes, and then hope their Tinder joke screenshots get picked up by BuzzFeed.
Do you think you could ever truly love someone who does that? Exactly.
A Guide to Behaving on the Internet in 2014
Does Someone Have to Die Before Gamer Gate Ends?
Brianna Wu is a developer and writer who’s penned pieces on the gender imbalance in modern video games and the harassment women in the industry continue to deal with as part of their daily business. She heads up the small studio Giant Spacekat, makers of Revolution 60, a mobile game hailed as “a most triumphant and excellent adventure” by RPGfan.com and denounced as “a bland, uninteresting, feminism circle-jerk” by Metacritic user Realgamer101. I’m guessing that’s not his real name, but there’s no guesswork required to figure out the poster’s gender.
On October 11, Wu tweeted the above screenshot—a series of threatening messages she’d received from a Twitter account that’s since been suspended.
Before we go any further, it’s important to ask whether or not you want to read anything more on GamerGate. Since you’re on this page, chances are you’re aware of the sides in this bizarre online kerfuffle, as well as the problem with giving GamerGate any further coverage: These words may be further fuel for a fire that needs to die down before anyone can properly discuss the more pertinent points raised by a still-evolving debate.
If that means nothing to you, here’s a summary: A (formerly) low-profile indie developer named Zoe Quinn created and released a game called Depression Quest. Some people argued that it wasn’t a game at all—but that’s not the controversy. An ex of Quinn’s published information in August of 2014 implying that she had slept around to secure positive review coverage forDepression Quest. There’s no evidence connecting any alleged promiscuity—which, in any case, is nobody’s business apart from those doing the screwing, anyway—with the reception Depression Quest received, but the conversation quickly turned to ethics: As in, some game journalists were seen to be favorable toward certain projects that they were incredibly tenuously linked to. That connection could be chipping into a Kickstarter pot, or having long ago worked on a collaborative venture together. You get the idea: Person A once spoke to Person B, and for that reason Person A’s recommendation of Person B’s new Game C is clearly completely corrupt.
Your Password Is Not Secure and It’s Not Your Fault
When it comes to passwords, we’re all tolerating a broken system. The problems range from the irritating—it’s strange needing to remember some obscure code you created years ago in order to access some trivial thing like your Greyhound Road Rewards account—to the horrifying—no matter how much security goes into creating passwords and concealing their secrets, in too many cases, the fucking things don’t even work.
I set out to find the cure for this plague. I started by creating what seemed to me like a clever system for generating randomness in a way I could remember. I’m not going to write about it in detail because I’m still using it, but suffice it to say it involves using the name of the service to generate a code that only makes sense to me.
Then, with an open mind, I explained my system to security expert Nik Cubrilovic in case it needed tweaking. After all, there must be a system for creating good passwords that security experts agree on. And surely a layman like myself can implement such a system, right?
When I told him the confusing cipher I’d been using to generate passwords that can only be cracked inside my amazing brain, he very kindly shot down my system as confusing, stupid, and not very secure. I would soon find out that there are debates raging about the right way to do this, but the best solutions can’t really be implemented yet, and a functioning, universal system might never exist.
Authorized selfie of Nik Cubrilovic, courtesy of Nik Cubrilovic
The conversation picks up just after I explained my top-secret password system:
VICE: What do you think of my password system?
Nik Cubrilovic: Just to clarify, if somebody saw one of your passwords, would they be able to work out the rest of them? I’ve heard similar schemes where you take X letter of the service name, and then from your favorite bands, a line of their song lyrics, and you use that as the beginning or as the seat of the password.
Oh, I would never use dictionary words.
That’s bad advice because four words combined together—and there’s math on this—is probably stronger than anything that a person could generate.
RT to Kill: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Tweets a Death Threat
On the night of March 11, a Twitter user with the handle @StillDMC stood at a window in downtown Los Angeles and took a photo of his rifle, the barrel aimed at what appeared to be a couple of pedestrians standing on a street corner in the distance. At 12:09 AM, he tweeted.
“100 RT’s and I’ll shoot someone walking,” he wrote alongside the picture, which quickly racked up well over 100 retweets. An hour later, he followed up: “Man down. Mission Completed.”
This time the image showed a young man lying on the ground, clutching his torso—along with what looked, in the pixelated dark, like a chest wound.
The next day, LAPD detectives arrested 20-year-old Dakkari McAnuff. The police report states that investigating officers had “discovered multiple pictures displaying an unknown type of rifle pointing in the direction of various Los Angles city streets [sic],” determined McAnuff was @StillDMC, and confirmed his location. At midday, police officers arrived at 22-year-old Zain Abbasi’s high-rise condo building, where McAnuff was a guest.
According to Abbasi’s account of the arrest, the building’s property manager summoned him to his office, where detectives placed him and another friend in handcuffs. Helicopters circled the building, snipers took aim from a complex across the street, and multiple police cars blocked the parking lot.
The detectives told Abbasi to call McAnuff and to instruct him to come down to join them. As soon as he left the condo, McAnuff was apprehended by ten LAPD officers who were lying in wait, their guns drawn. The officers searched Abbasi’s apartment and found the weapon pictured in the tweet: an unloaded air rifle.
The entire group was handcuffed and taken into custody. McAnuff was “jailed on suspicion of making criminal threats,” and his bail was set at $50,000.
It was all supposed to be a joke, of course.
The Fappening Has Revealed a New Type of Pervert
If ever the word “fap” stood a chance of entering the dictionary, this was it. The leak of over 100 nude pictures of actresses this week, known as “The Fappening,” has exposed the world’s most famous bodies and triggered a media firestorm.
The popular view among feminists has been to encourage others to avoid the pictures entirely. But this argument is self-defeating: by mentioning the pictures and watching their own articles get retweeted, journalists still draw their readers into a “scandal.” Which isn’t to say that writers should ignore the story, it’s just ludicrous to expect readers not to follow it up and find the images. Hadley Freeman, in an otherwise agreeable piece, says that she has “never understood the appeal in looking at naked photos of people who I don’t know and who certainly have no interest in me.” Dear Hadley Freeman, I love you, but the rest of us sometimes watch porn.
Such arguments imply that looking at an image will plant the seed of misogynist evil,Videodrome-style, inside a viewer’s head. Unless the leak was a combined effort by one hundred celebrities’ ex-boyfriends, it has nothing to do with “revenge porn.” Nor is it, ultimately, a grotesque act of theft, “thought crime,” or body-shaming to look at the pictures. We can’t feasibly expect everyone to ignore clickbait, though the news that McKayla Maroney’s images depict her while underage is a horribly grim twist to the affair, rendering the images child pornography, and definitely not OK to be shared.
We Need to Stop Killer Robots from Taking Over the World
Nick Bostrom’s job is to dream up increasingly lurid scenarios that could wipe out the human race: Asteroid strikes; high-energy physics experiments that go wrong; global plagues of genetically-modified superbugs; the emergence of all-powerful computers with scant regard for human life—that sort of thing.
In the hierarchy of risk categories, Bostrom’s specialty stands above mere catastrophic risks like climate change, financial market collapse and conventional warfare.
As the Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, Bostrom is part of a small but growing network of snappily-named academic institutions tackling these “existential risks”: the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge; the Future of Life Institute at MIT and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute at Berkeley. Their tools are philosophy, physics and lots and lots of hard math.
Five years ago he started writing a book aimed at the layman on a selection of existential risks but quickly realized that the chapter dealing with the dangers of artificial intelligence development growth was getting fatter and fatter and deserved a book of its own. The result is Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. It makes compelling—if scary—reading.
The basic thesis is that developments in artificial intelligence will gather apace so that within this century it’s conceivable that we will be able to artificially replicate human level machine intelligence (HLMI).
Once HLMI is reached, things move pretty quickly: Intelligent machines will be able to design even more intelligent machines, leading to what mathematician I.J. Good called back in 1965 an “intelligence explosion” that will leave human capabilities far behind. We get to relax, safe in the knowledge that the really hard work is being done by super-computers we have brought into being.
A Bluetooth-Enabled Vibrator Made Me Reconsider Sexual Intimacy
My lover is a luddite. He says he doesn’t want to rely on technology because he doesn’t want to feel its absence if ever it were to be taken away. For example, last week Earth skimmed the boundaries of a solar storm, which could have seriously disabled the planet’s electricity grids. Matt would have likely been inconvenienced, whereas I would have likely killed myself before its repair.
As a blogger for a media website, I feel very integrated with technology. I often write about personal experiences and sometimes I’m given free products to advertise under the guise of narrative. The OhMiBod® blueMotion™ Bluetooth™ enabled vibrator sat quietly in a bed of pink packaging paper. The small box depicted a man on an armchair pointing his smartphone at a female who seemed to be dancing. The inner pamphlet said that the device was “perfect for couple’s play,” so I stowed it aside and waited for Matt to come home from work. I was sort of confused by the company’s marketing objectives, ultimately, but curious to test its wares.
When Matt came home we took turns ridiculing the product, which was probably just a result of our insecurity or nervousness.
“Why would anyone want this?” laughed Matt. “Why wouldn’t I just control you with my hands?”
Why and How to Leave Facebook
is a Chicago-based new media artist, educator, and organizer. Briz teaches at the Marwen Foundation and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has shown his work internationally, and is the co-founder of the GLI.TC/H
conference. While all of that is undeniably impressive, I must say I knew Briz was a genius when I first saw, “Apple Computers
,” a powerful affront against Apple and a manifesto for the prosumer of our age. So, when Briz made “How To / Why Leave Facebook
,” a piece about leaving Facebook, I knew I should pay attention.
I recently left Facebook as well, but I was uninterested in any self-congratulatory artwork or dramatic fuck-you to the social platform. I hadn’t enjoyed my time on Facebook for a while, but Facebook had been such a large part of my life for 9 years. I don’t buy most complaints about it “not being real life,” or some useless addiction. As the largest social network in the world, Facebook is very much a part of real life, I just hadn’t felt like I was benefitting from that part of my life.
My vague discontentedness with Facebook finally reached a boiling point in light of theiremotional contagion study
. The highly controversial
academic study was recently published, and it claims that Facebook had secretly manipulated the emotional state of nearly 700,000 of its users. I understood that Facebook’s main purpose is to make advertising dollars from it’s users, but this felt excessively creepy. And as VICE News has already reported
, one of the study’s researches received funding from the Minerva initiative—helping the Pentagon study and quell social unrest—that made it all the more creepy. Yet I knew Briz would offer some insight beyond the most recent headlines.