Arts & Humanities: Don't Leave College Without Them

and even private funding for the humanities has de- creased significantly from a few decades ago. Plus support from the public and in turn, Congress and other legislators has slid, with leaks coming from the White House not but three months after current POTUS, Donald J. Trump got sworn in that he was planning on defunding National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humani - ties. But the arts have given us the kindling for this revo- lution. Black Mirror, the widely-popular Netflix orig - inal dystopian sci-fi TV series demands people talk about tech by pushing the bounds with the ques- tion “How far will we let it go?” And the art of Luis Quiles, which uses almost Disney-like characters in disturbing scenarios to highlight how disgustingly infatuated we’ve become with technology instead of real human interactions. The naysayers are finding a microphone. And that’s because their outlooks are based on a knowledge of humanity and the way it interacts in a system of profit maximization and a neglect of infrastructure (meaning both its people and the things built by the people). And that’s really what Moneytripping became, a search for humanity in the finance and technology, in the money that I had surrounded myself with. And what I found, as I traveled from state-to-state were industries out of touch. And consumers that followed their lead, because that’s where the mon- ey leads.

A more open and collaborative system is where my interest in bitcoin starts, in late 2012. A system that needed its constituency to make the system work, un- like how I and many others felt and still feel about the governing class around us. And while bitcoin has been co-opted by paranoid lib- ertarians and the tech elite, there’s still an inkling of a “good” technology. Good technology which I’ll define as one that allows us to better capture all of humanity instead of just a tiny sliver, when it allows us to socialize and connect with a greater humanity. Like the work of one of Stanford professor, Terry Winograd’s students who developed a Google Glass application that connects to a smart- phone app to help autistic children recognize human emotion through facial expressions. This is good tech because it allows people that have been unable to, to understand a broader humanity.

But what to do with something that challenges these as- sumptions?

The technology being pumped out today are just it- erations on the technology we already have today, recreating the systematic inequalities and unwant- ed prejudices. Today’s technology, more messaging apps with more filters to abstract the world, feels more like an anthem for apathy:

“Is that you’re car outside? With the Bitcoin sticker?”

A stout young man with greasy hair falling over his ears asks when he walks into the hostel kitchen where I’m eating the last of my bread that hasn’t turned blue with a single cup of peanut butter.

“With the lights out, it’s less dangerous

“It is.” The first person in 47 states that’s asked me about it.

Here we are now, entertain us

“You know about bitcoin?”

I feel stupid and contagious

He did. For reasons, I find, similar to most people’s expe - rience with the digital currency. Because he was selling drugs. Granted, it was kratom, a plant with opiate-like effects which at that time was still legal in South Caro - lina, but definitely a good in the gray area. Yet, this isn’t me making a judgement. This is bitcoin’s best use case, what many now call regulatory arbitrage, the process of finding ways around regulations. And the regulations bitcoin allows people to get around are the censorship of the digital payment systems, the blockad- ing of financial freedom.

Here we are now, entertain us.”

And the technology industry sees that which is why it takes terms meant for human interactions, trying to morph them into ideas that define technology. Engaging, for instance, is the term the technology industry uses to describe sleek, easy to navigate user interfaces. But it’s not the users interface that’s engaging, it’s the person on the other end of that telephone call, that message, that status update that’s engaging. When I’m using WhatsApp to send voice messages back and forth to my niece, it isn’t the smartphone, it isn’t the application, it isn’t the software that’s engaging, it’s a 6-year-old’s voice saying, “I love you” that gives me butterflies and makes my face flush. Tech, then, is just the middleman, the intermedi- ary connecting us to what we love and enjoy, what scares us and makes us cry, all those different emo - tions, the human experience, the humanities. And yet, the technology industry is not looking further into the humanities than what its artificial intelligence program can deduce from the way our eyes move through a website. And with the tech in- dustry seemingly not caring about the humanities, the rest of us have followed suit.

But these applications, much like the arts and humani- ties, are suffering from a lack of funding.

And that’s what’s really worrisome.

As a white-haired shopkeeper in Michigan said, “Money is the root of all evil.”

But it’s not the money, not the tech, that’s evil but it’s the lack of humanity it considers.

Although, we might be starting to see a pushback, one that will have an uphill battle, as federal, state


Arts & Humanities

Don’t Leave College Without Them


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