As deepfake AI gets more realistic, worries of their implications on our politics are growing. The Senate recently passed legislation to research the threat deepfakes, edited videos that can give viewers the impression that a speaker is saying something different than what they really are, pose to society. But while the government makes moves to understand the new technology, AI developers have already begun to catch up with detection software.
Every fall, the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, takes a gang of writers out on a retreat called Campfire. The retreat is incredibly secretive, but what we do know is that the writers love it. However, not all is perfect in writer paradise. Last year, Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell attended the retreat. This raises interesting questions about connections between wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the most beautiful and essential natural features on our planet. Yet, it is now in great danger as fires, raging for many weeks, threaten the “lungs” of Earth. We should be worried about the Amazon rainforest. But calls for the government to act are not the answer. If they give up ownership and privatize it, governments will provide the best way for the Amazon and other threatened natural resources to be saved. By doing so, they will introduce a beneficial profit motive.
Over the past few days, the internet came ablaze with the late-breaking news that the Amazon Rainforest is burning. Concerned teenagers filled Twitter and Instagram with “pray for Amazonia” and cries that “the planet’s lungs” are on fire. The spectacle social and news media has presented to young privileged people is that the Earth is dying and these fires are part of it. But the hysteria around these fires, and forest fires in general, is wholly unjustified. The Amazon and most other forests have very specific burn seasons that can become extremely intense if those of former years have been relatively mild. There is no reason for the Brazilian government to take any extreme action against this part of the Amazon’s cycle. But the pictures, to a coastal urban citizen, are shocking; the mainstream media has not hesitated to exploit that shock.
The concept of what it means to be an American has changed a lot since its inception nearly two and a half centuries ago. One of the most drastic changes, brought upon by the industrial age and a capitalist mentality, is the concept of consumerism, which has entrenched itself into the lives of nearly all Americans. The largest single facilitating entity behind this rise of consumerism throughout the 20th century was catalog company-turned-retailer Sears, Roebuck and Company, better known today as Sears. Although now a shadow of its former self, Sears was the largest retailer in America until 1990 when it was passed by Walmart. Even though Sears is still a well-known brand, it’s better known for its prolonged struggle through bankruptcy court and its controversial “former” CEO, Eddie Lampert, who is still very much in control of the brand.
Although it seems logical to blame the downfall of Sears on its failed 2005 merger with Kmart, along with incompetent management and the financial crash of 2008, the truth is much more complex than that. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Sears was actually well-positioned to become the dominant retail force in the 21st century before backward-thinking management sold their advantages away. This slow-motion-trainwreck of a story is more than just Sears and Eddie Lampert. It’s Amazon, Walmart, the internet, the Great Recession, and a three-decade head start that Sears had over the rest of American retail. Sears may have lost the title of America’s consumerism champion, but it can’t stop us from looking at the current landscape and wondering what could have been.