24/06/2013

Machines, monkeys, love and vegetation

In 2011 the filmmaker Adam Curtis created for the BBC a documentary series of three chapters which holds that computers not only have failed in getting the old dream of improving Mankind, but have ‘distorted and simplified our view of the world around us’. The suggestive title of the series is taken from the homonymous poem written in 1967 by Richard Brautigan: ‘All watched over by machines of loving grace’.

In this first episode, ‘Love and power’, Curtis tracks the effects of writer and philosopher Ayn Rand‘s ideas on American financial markets, particularly via the influence on Alan Greenspan, chairman of the US Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006.

‘The use and abuse of vegetational concepts’ investigates how machine ideas such as cybernetics and systems theory were applied to natural ecosystems, and how this relates to the false idea that there is a balance of nature. Cybernetics has been applied to human beings to attempt to build societies without central control, self organising networks built of people, based on a fantasy view of nature.

‘The monkey in the machine and the machine in the monkey’ looked into The Selfish Gene Theory, which was conceived by William D. Hamilton and holds that we humans are machines controlled by our own genes.

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‘Mi trabajo en realidad consiste en humanizar políticos’

—Oscar Camps es socorrista, empresario y activista, conocido por ser el fundador y director de la ONG badalonesa Proactiva Open Arms. Era propietario de una empresa de salvamento en Badalona, al lado de Barcelona, llamada Proactiva Aquatic Services, que se dedicaba a los servicios marítimos, principalmente seguridad acuática y socorrismo.
En el contexto de la crisis de los refugiados y la Guerra Civil Siria, cuando miles de personas perdieron la vida tratando de llegar a Europa, Camps decidió trasladarse a Lesbos, una isla griega ubicada cerca de Turquía, para evaluar la situación sobre el terreno.
La clave que lo empujó a ponerse en movimiento fue la publicación de las imágenes del cadáver de Aylan Kurdi, un niño de tres años que se había ahogado al intentar realizar el viaje con su familia. Como la empresa tenía mucha experiencia en vigilancia de playas, él y algunos colegas decidieron aplicar sus conocimientos sobre salvar vidas para ayudar a rescatar a los refugiados que intentaban llegar a la Unión Europea a través del mar Egeo. En septiembre de 2015 decidió fundar la ONG Proactiva Open Arms.
Medios de comunicación de toda Europa informaron sobre la actividad de la ONG en Lesbos, y como resultado Camps visitó el Parlamento Europeo para hablar en nombre de los refugiados.
Fue nombrado Europeo del Año 2019 por la revista estadounidense Reader's Digest en reconocimiento a su 'gran labor humanitaria, habiendo rescatado a más de 59.000 migrantes desesperados de las aguas del Egeo y el Mediterráneo en tres años y medio'.

‘My work is actually about humanizing politicians’

—Oscar Camps is a lifeguard, businessman and activist, best known for being the founder and director of the Badalonese NGO Proactiva Open Arms. He was the owner of a lifeguard company established in Badalona, ​​near Barcelona, in Spain, called Proactiva Aquatic Services, which was dedicated to maritime services, mainly aquatic safety and lifeguards.
In the context of the refugee crisis and the Syrian Civil War, when thousands of people lost their lives trying to reach Europe, Camps decided to go to Lesbos, a Greek island located near Turkey, to assess the situation on the land.
The key event that motivated him to get moving was the publication of the images of the corpse of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old boy who had drowned trying to make the journey with his family. As the company had a lot of experience in beach surveillance, he and a few colleagues decided to apply their life-saving knowledge to help rescue refugees trying to reach the European Union via the Aegean Sea. In September 2015, he decided to found the NGO Proactiva Open Arms.
Media from all over Europe reported on the NGO's activity on Lesbos, as a result of which Camps came to visit the European Parliament to speak on behalf of the refugees.
He was named European of the Year 2019 by the American magazine Reader's Digest in recognition of his 'great humanitarian work, having rescued more than 59,000 desperate migrants from the waters of the Aegean and the Mediterranean in three and a half years'.

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Conocido por su labor divulgativa en economía política, análisis de las corporaciones y propuestas para el consumir responsable y sostenible, es también especialista en las relaciones económicas norte-sur, deuda externa y precio justo. Gran crítico del sistema capitalista liberal contemporáneo, con su participación activa en el movimiento 15M —en su representación en la acampada de Plaza Catalunya en Barcelona en 2011— sus ideas y discurso se dieron a conocer aún más. Su condición de activista empieza con las luchas estudiantiles contra la dictadura de Franco en los 60 y se consolida con los movimientos antiglobalización y con su defensa de las teorías del decrecimiento. Participó también en la creación del Foro Social Mundial en Porto Alegre y del movimiento de los indignados 15M. Actualmente continúa con su actividad como docente en la UAB y como pensador y divulgador que transforma la economía en política, la política en sociedad y la sociedad en humanidad y justicia.'The future has to be, as they say in Latin America, the good life' —Arcadi Oliveres is a Catalan economist and UAB university professor and an active participant in social movements since his youth. Also is a recognized activist in Justice and Peace, an organization for the promotion and defense of human rights around the world. In this organitzation is the president since 2001. He is known for his divulgative work about political economy, corporate analysis and proposals for responsible and sustainable consumption. Also specializes in North-South relations in international economics, foreign debt and fair price. Great critic of contemporary liberal capitalist system, with its active participation in the 15M movement —in its representation in the camp of Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona 2011— his speech became more known. His activism began in his youth with the student movement against the dictatorship of Franco in the 60s, it was consolidated with the anti-globalization movements and their theoretical conceptualizations and defense theories of degrowth. He also participated in the creation of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre and the Indignados movement (15M). Continues its activities as a teacher at UAB, and activist, thinker and promotor, we hope that his work will not cease, and leave us for many years, this light provided by this economist, where the economy is transformed into politics, politics into society, and society in humanity and justice." 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Hoy es una presencia viva y generalizada en nuestras vidas que afecta a lo que comemos, lo que vemos e incluso lo que pensamos. Del mismo modo que la Iglesia, la Monarquía o el Partido Comunista en otros tiempos y lugares, es la institución dominante de nuestros días. Pero la Historia acostumbra a terminar derribando a las instituciones dominantes; todas han sido sustituidas o absorbidas por un orden nuevo, y sería una sorpresa mayúscula que la corporación multinacional sea la primera en desafiar a la Historia. Basado en el libro de Joel Bakan La corporación: la búsqueda patológica del beneficio y el poder, el documental La corporación es una investigación meticulosa y crítica que examina la naturaleza misma de este tipo de sociedades: su funcionamiento interno, su curiosa historia, su controvertido impacto y sus posibles futuros. El documento empieza revelando que, por ley, las corporaciones tienen todos los derechos y sin embargo casi ninguno de los deberes o responsabilidades de las personas. Más adelante, al estudiar su comportamiento bajo el prisma del DSM —el manual estándar de la evaluación psiquiátrica—, los autores descubren que, si la corporación fuese realmente una persona, sería considerada una psicópata.One hundred and fifty years ago, the corporation was a relatively insignificant entity. Now it is a vivid and pervasive presence in all our lives. Like the Church, the Monarchy or the Communist Party in other times and places, it is today’s dominant institution. But History humbles dominant institutions; all have been crushed or absorbed into some new order, and the corporation is unlikely to be the first institution to defy History. Based on Joel Bakan's book The corporation: the pathological pursuit of profit and power, the documentary The corporation is a timely, critical inquiry that examines the very nature of this kind of companies: its inner workings, curious history, controversial impacts and possible futures. We begin by learning that, under the law, corporations have all the rights and yet few of the responsibilities of people. Later, by viewing the behavior of the corporation through the prism DSM —Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the gold standard of psychiatric evaluation— the authors discover that if the corporation were indeed a person, the person would be considered a psychopath." 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Montxo Algora estudió en la School of Visual Arts de Nueva York. En los años 80 trabajó en Digital Productions, una de las compañías pioneras del 3D en Los Angeles. En 1990 fundó ArtFutura, uno de los festivales de cultura y creatividad digital más importantes, y ha dirigido sus 22 ediciones entre Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Buenos Aires y Rio de Janeiro. El festival presenta todos los años artistas y creadores de la talla de David Byrne, Theo Jansen, Moebius, Laurie Anderson, Improv Everywhere, Tohio Iwai, Brian Eno o Sachiko Kodama, por citar sólo algunos. En 1992 dirigió ‘Memory Palace’, un espectáculo con texto original de William Gibson y música de Peter Gabriel. Y en 2008 comisarió la exposición 'Máquinas & Almas' para el Museo Reina Sofía de Madrid, la exposición de arte digital más visitada en España hasta la fecha, con más de 450.000 personas.'The power of machines is going to be so tremendous that we better start thinking what we are going to do with them'. Montxo Algora studied at School of Architecture of Madrid and at the School of Visual Arts of New York. As the director of Arte Digital Productions, he has worked with software and graphic companies in Los Angeles. In 1988, he presented in Barcelona his outreach program 'Fire Birds' with music by La Fura dels Baus. In 1990 he founded Art Futura and has both directed and co-directed its 22 editions in Barcelona and Madrid, showing works by Laurie Anderson, Stelarc, Yoichiro Kawaguchi, Brian Eno, Karl Sims, William Gibson, Survival Research Laboratories, Moebius, Zbigniew Rybczynski, Future Sound of London, Sherry Turkle, among others. In 1992, he directed 'Memory Place', a show based on the performance of an original text by William Gibson with images by Karl Sims, Rebecca Allen, Mark Pellington and music by Peter Gabriel and others." 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