Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand2 days ago
The long read: How an extreme libertarian tract predicting the collapse of liberal democracies written by Jacob Rees-Moggs father inspired the likes of Peter Thiel to buy up property across the Pacific
If you’re interested in the end of the world, you’re interested in New Zealand. If you’re interested in how our current cultural anxieties – climate catastrophe, decline of transatlantic political orders, resurgent nuclear terror – manifest themselves in apocalyptic visions, you’re interested in the place occupied by this distant archipelago of apparent peace and stability against the roiling unease of the day.
If you’re interested in the end of the world, you would have been interested, soon after Donald Trump’s election as US president, to read a New York Times headline stating that Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, considered New Zealand to be “the Future”. Because if you are in any serious way concerned about the future, you’re also concerned about Thiel, a canary in capitalism’s coal mine who also happens to have profited lavishly from his stake in the mining concern itself.
Thiel is in one sense a caricature of outsized villainy: he was the only major Silicon Valley figure to put his weight behind the Trump presidential campaign; he vengefully bankrupted a website because he didn’t like how they wrote about him; he is known for his public musings about the incompatibility of freedom and democracy, and for expressing interest – as though enthusiastically pursuing the clunkiest possible metaphor for capitalism at its most vampiric – in a therapy involving transfusions of blood from young people as a potential means of reversing the ageing process. But in another, deeper sense, he is pure symbol: less a person than a shell company for a diversified portfolio of anxieties about the future, a human emblem of the moral vortex at the centre of the market.
It was in 2011 that Thiel declared he’d found “no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand”. The claim was made as part of an application for citizenship; the application was swiftly granted, though it remained a secret for a further six years. In 2016, Sam Altman, one of Silicon Valley’s most influential entrepreneurs, revealed to the New Yorker that he had an arrangement with Thiel whereby in the eventuality of some kind of systemic collapse scenario – synthetic virus breakout, rampaging AI, resource war between nuclear-armed states, so forth – they both get on a private jet and fly to a property Thiel owns in New Zealand. (The plan from this point, you’d have to assume, was to sit out the collapse of civilisation before re-emerging to provide seed-funding for, say, the insect-based protein sludge market.)
In the immediate wake of that Altman revelation, Matt Nippert, a reporter for the New Zealand Herald, began looking into the question of how exactly Thiel had come into possession of this apocalypse retreat, a 477-acre former sheep station in the South Island – the larger, more sparsely populated of the country’s two major landmasses. Foreigners looking to purchase significant amounts of New Zealand land typically have to pass through a stringent government vetting process. In Thiel’s case, Nippert learned, no such process had been necessary, because he was already a citizen of New Zealand, despite having spent no more than 12 days in the country up to that point, and having not been seen in the place since. He didn’t even need to travel to New Zealand to have his citizenship conferred, it turned out: the deal was sealed in a private ceremony at a consulate handily located in Santa Monica.
Does quitting social media make you happier? Yes, say young people doing it3 days ago
Teenagers and young adults switching off from Facebook and other social apps reveal how the change has affected their lives
Our love of social media seems to have grown and grown in the past decade, but recent studies show the tide may be turning for some platforms, with young people in particular ditching Facebook. One study claims that more than 11 million teenagers left Facebook between 2011 and 2014. Its been argued that they are swapping public platforms such as Twitter and Instagram for more private messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat.
We asked the Guardians younger readers whether they have quit social media and why, as well as what apps they are ditching. Almost all reported a greater sense of happiness after going offline. Here, we share some of their experiences.
Daisy, 23, Manchester: I feel less anxious and less like a failure
Read more: www.theguardian.com
One Facebook ‘like’ is all it takes to target adverts, academics find25 days ago
Online ad campaigns based on smallest expressions of preference reveal effect of mass psychological persuasion
Online ad campaigns created by academics in Britain and the US have targeted millions of people based on psychological traits perceived from a single “like” on Facebook – demonstrating, they say, the effect of “mass psychological persuasion”.
More than 3.5 million people, mostly women in the UK aged 18-40, were shown online adverts tailored to their personality type after researchers found that specific Facebook likes reflected different psychological characteristics.
The bespoke campaigns boosted clicks on ads for beauty products and gaming apps by up to 40% and sales by as much as 50% compared with untargeted adverts, according to the researchers, who did not benefit financially from the campaigns.
The work, carried out for unnamed companies, was designed to reveal how even the smallest expressions of preference online can be used to influence people’s behaviour.
“We wanted to provide some scientific evidence that psychological targeting works, to show policymakers that it works, to show people on the street that it works, and say this is what we can do simply by looking at your Facebook likes. This is the way we can influence behaviour,” said Sandra Matz, a computational social scientist at Columbia Business School in New York City.
“We used one single Facebook like per person to decide whether they were introverted or extroverted, and that was the minimum amount of information we can possibly use to make inferences about people’s personalities. And yet we still see these effects on how often people click on ads and how often people buy something,” she added.
The work has raised concerns among some in academia. Gillian Bolsover, who studies online manipulation of political opinion at the Oxford Internet Institute, said she was concerned about whose hands publicity of the research might play into.
“Does coverage of the work primarily serve as an advert to the companies that might do these things? Or does it serve to inform the public about something going on in our society that we might not be happy with and want do something about?” she said.
“If people are worried about the way technology is going, there are lots of little actions they can take to reduce the amount of data that is collected about them and to avoid supporting the practices and companies that they might feel are detrimental to society.”
Matz teamed up with researchers at the University of Cambridge who had previously created a database of millions of personality profiles of anonymous Facebook users and items they had liked. The data reveals how, on average, specific likes reflect certain personality types. For example, a like on Lady Gaga’s Facebook page is broadly the mark of an extrovert, while a like on Stargate’s page flags users who are more likely to be introverts.
The researchers then used graphics designers to create adverts aimed at either extroverts or introverts. They showed these via Facebook’s advertising platform to people who had liked a single item identifying them as one personality type or the other.
The first field experiment targeted more than 3 million UK women aged 18-40 with adverts for an online beauty retailer. More than 10,000 women clicked on the ads, leading to 390 purchases. Matching the ads to people’s personalities led to 54% more sales than mismatching them. Two further campaigns for a crossword app and a shooting game had similar results, the researchers report in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“I was surprised that we got the effect with so little information,” said Matz. “We don’t know that much about people, and yet it still has a pretty big effect. You can imagine if you were using the full Facebook profile to make individual level predictions about people’s personalities, the effects would be even bigger.”
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
Matz believes that such mass persuasion could be put to great use – for example, by helping people to save, get a pension, or lead more healthy lives. But it could also be misused, she said. “It has the potential for abuse where you exploit weaknesses in a person’s character to make them do things they don’t want to do. We want policymakers to focus on the positive uses. If you just shut down this technology, you would lose so much potential for helping people.”
But the approach is controversial. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating whether voters were unfairly influenced online by political campaigners in the run-up to the EU referendum in 2016. The ICO’s report is expected before the end of the year.
“In a sense, it’s a natural extension of capitalism as it moves online. Of course corporations will do this,” said Bolsover. “But the increased use of corporate advertising techniques in the political system is something I think we should be worried about on a broader level.”
“Political campaigns [are] probably somewhere you don’t want it to be used,” said Matz. “We want to open it up for public discussion so people can have an informed discussion about what we want to do with our technology.”
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Mobile dating apps spur HIV epidemic among AsiaaEUR( tm) s adolescents, says UN1 month, 12 days ago
Smartphone technology has increased the opportunities for casual sex and led to a spike in HIV infections among teens in Asia, researchers find
United Nations research has observed the growing utilize of mobile dating apps by young gays men is a major factor in a new HIV epidemic among adolescents in Asia, the Guardian can reveal.
The report uncovered a upsurge of HIV infections among 10 -1 9 years olds in the Asia-Pacific region, where more than half of the worlds 1.2 billion teens live.
The two-year study found that smartphone dating apps have expanded possibilities for spontaneous casual sex as never before.
The epidemic is fastest growing amongst men who have sex with humen. Other groups include those who are sexually exploited by or engaged in sexuality work, people who inject drugs, and young transgender people.
Young lesbian men themselves has systematically told us that they are now utilizing mobile dating apps to meet up for sexuality, and are having more casual sex with more people as a result. We know that this kind of risky behaviour increases the spread of HIV, said Wing-Sie Cheng, HIV/ Aids consultant for Unicef in east Asia and the Pacific.
We are hence convinced that there is a connection, and that we need to work better with mobile app providers to share information about HIV and safeguard the health of adolescents.
The previously unreported epidemic threatens the UNs goal to end the global Aids crisis by 2030, which appeared achievable after a sharp drop in Africa during the past 15 years.
Adolescents are also more likely to die of Aids-related demises, researchers from Unicef and UNAIDS detected, as they are less inclined to seek therapy, dreading they will be stigmatised or forcing them to expose their sexuality to their family or the authorities concerned. In many countries in the region, under-1 8s cannot get an HIV test without parental consent.
While global HIV infections are dropping, the number of teens aged 10 -1 9 officially living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific has grown to more than 220,000, with the unofficial number expected to be much higher, Unicef says. Fewer than half of them are receiving treatment and demises have risen nearly every year for a decade.
An HIV-positive Filipino man aged 30, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect himself from abuse, said it was hard to find sex for a gay teen, bullied at school and closed off from the adult-only lesbian bars.
At university, the introduction of internet dating chat rooms and online forums allowed him to find more sex partners his age. He would chat with men and agree to rent a room for a few hours in the capital.
If I write down all the people I had sexuality with in Manila, I can probably write one to five people for each stop of the metro, he said.
Smartphones and mobile dating revolutionised his sex life. Whereas internet dating involved a laborious process of arranging a session up, dating apps are location-based, allowing users to scan their surroundings for others.
Even if youre still in school and “youre feeling” the need to have sex, you just open Grindr, he said. You dont even have to talk to them. People simply send you naked photos or photos of their cocks. If youre fine with them, you just go and have sex.
The immediacy of the sexuality, organised in minutes, attained condom utilize less likely, he said. I did use condoms. But it was not consistent. You dont want to lose the momentum.
Despite his promiscuous mobile dating years, the Filipino mans HIV test returned negative and he entered into a long-term relationship. But two years later he contracted the virus from his boyfriend who was secretly cheating on him by employing mobile dating apps.
In the Philippines, new HIV infections among teenagers have doubled in four years. In Bangkok, young gay humen now have a one in three opportunity of HIV infection.
And eighteen countries across the Asia-Pacific region criminalise against same-sex relationships which UNAIDS says causes lesbian humen to avoid life-saving HIV services.
A separate study last year found that men who have sex with men utilizing dating apps are at greater hazard of contracting gonorrhoea and chlamydia than those who gratify in-person or on the internet.
Wing-Sie, the Unicef adviser, said that dating apps create networks of men, in which infections rapidly spread among users. Mobile dating apps essentially hook you up to a central network.
She said the study looked at observational trends around the region reported by United Nations policemen and local community workers who said their HIV strategy urgently needed to adapt to the explosion of mobile dating apps. HIV is a covert issue, it is very hidden. So data is not available.
She said researchers found that with the rise of these apps, the probability and risk of infection will increase multifold because it stimulates it so much easier for them to date other guys and hook up for sex, she said.
A spokesman from Grindr, used in 196 countries worldwide with 1 million active users every minute, said it has a minimum age requirement of 18. As the worlds largest homosexual platform, we take matters of sex health very seriously, the spokesman said, adding that Grindr runs in-app proclamations fostering testing at local clinics.
David S Novak, senior health strategist at Online Buddies, the mother company of the dating app Jackd, directed the Guardian to its ManHunt Cares project, which provides health resources to its users. In 2009, the company also set up a research institute focusing on lesbian sex health.
Other major dating app companies Tinder, Blued and Growlr did not respond to requests for comment.
The UN report says these apps can become vital conduits promoting sexual health, including HIV messaging and testing, and references a 2014 World Aids Day project by the Chinese gays dating app Blued where a red ribbon was added next to every users profile scene, linking to details of nearby testing centres.
Wing-Sie said Unicef will approach mobile dating app companies in the next month for a collaborative endeavor and so the world body might collect data to further investigate the impact of mobile dating.
Based in Bangkok, Jesse Krisintu has been working with charities trying to persuade young people to get tested for HIV through tactics such as pop-up advertisements on dating apps. He said the project did not work.
Its their business. If they advertise too much about HIV/ Aids services there, do you think people are going to go online? he said.
He said that one project involving pop-ups offered discounts on HIV tests but that very few were claimed and that the analytics depicts most users instantly closed the pop-up advert.
The application is where the key population is but no one is going to read the pop-up because the purpose of people going to those apps to find sex , not to find knowledge. The results are not that favourable, he said. People merely close it.
The UN is now also advocating for comprehensive sex education beyond a simple explanation of the sex organ and for reducing the age at which adolescents can take an HIV test without parental consent.
AIDS is already the leading cause of demise for adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death among teens globally, tripling over the past 15 years and largely as a result of mother-to-child transmission. However, this new breed of epidemic found in Asia-Pacific could be replicated elsewhere, public health officials warn.
There is a risk of not being able to eliminate Aids at all, Wing-Sie said. This is the new frontier of Aids to tackle right now. The world can never end Aids if this matter is not controlled.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
When AI Is Taking Over The Neighborhood2 months, 7 days ago
This cute little girl doesn’t seem concerned at all about the progression of Artificial Intelligence. She embraces every new visitor of her street, beating heart or not. The “robot” seems a little underwhelmed though…
‘ It’s not about your age, it’s about your notions ‘: the teen power listing2 months, 14 days ago
Meet 25 young activists, scientists, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs and big thinkers shaping your future
Harley Bird, 14, Tring, UK
An actors life is hard: its just one audition after another, and you have to grow a wall-thick skin to deal with all the rejection. For Bird, however, things went a little differently: she was signed to the Alphabet Kidz agency just before her sixth birthday and two weeks later beat hundreds of other young actors to land the lead role in a 1.4bn show.
She is the voice of Peppa Pig, the eponymous piglet who enjoys dressing up and jumping in muddy puddles. Bird, who in real life has two pet pigs (called, of course, Peppa and George), has now voiced Peppa Pig for eight years. Early on, she was too young to read the scripts, but that didnt stop her winning a Bafta at nine.
The show, while simple in its format of five-minute episodes, has taken the world by storm and is now shown in 180 territories and broadcast in 40 different languages. Not bad for a first role. Were there any clues that this one audition would lead to a starring role in a global franchise? Bird has said she doesnt understand it herself. I just auditioned and they said my voice matched. because it is quite husky.
Mihir Garimella, 16, Pennsylvania
This Hit Game Was Generated by a 26 -Year-Old Who Doesn’t Code4 months, 6 days ago
Japanese frogs are proliferating across Asia. The good news is, they’re not an invasive species , nor are they real.
Tabi Kaeru, or Travel Frog, became the No. 1 downloaded smartphone app in China for almost two weeks after its debut, and is still hovering at the top of the charts in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. The notion for video games came from Mayuko Uemura, a 26 -year-old employee of developer Hit-Point Inc . who has never written a line of computer code.
The game’s objective is simple: pack a lunch, maybe a tent, plus a few other trip-friendly trinkets for your virtual amphibian and wait for him to come back from his travels with pictures and gifts. If the premise of gathering food and knickknacks while waiting for animals to show up voices familiar, that’s because it is: Nagoya-based Hit-Point is behind the cat-collecting game Neko Atsume and came up with the most recent hit. Both titles share DNA with Tamagotchi, Bandai Namco Holdings Inc.’s handheld virtual pet doll that became a global fad in the 90 s and early 2000 s.
Uemura said she was inspired by her passion for traveling and the feeling of waiting for a loved one to return from a journey.
” We are definitely constructing people wait, and sometimes I fret because I believe: aren’t we inducing people wait too long ?” she said in an interview.” I want to develop games that players can love. I don’t want to develop games where you have to focus too much .”
Indeed, by no means is the game fast-paced. When the frog is inside his cave-like home, he’s usually scribbling or reading a book. It’s oddly soothing. By collecting clover in the front yard, you can use it to buy food, lanterns and anything else that might help on a long trek. After straying about for hours or even days, the frog returns with souvenirs and snapshots from his travelings. That’s it. The objective is collect more stuff: for the frog to take on journeys, as well as the stuff he brings back.
Even though the game is only available in Japanese, it’s been downloaded more than 30 million times following its November debut( with China building up 95 percent of that ), outpacing even Nintendo Co.’s hit title Animal Crossing released around the same time, according to researcher Sensor Tower. By comparison, Neko Atsume has been downloaded 22 million times.
It’s especially popular among women, according to Daniel Ahmad, an analyst at Niko Partners. Women account for almost half of players in Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s $ 3 billion hitsHonor of Kings.” It shows that there is a huge opportunity to target female gamers in China ,” he said.
While frogs are considered a symbol of fortune and prosperity in China and parts of Asia, Hit-Point isn’t saying how much it’s made from Tabi Kaeru. While there are ads that bring in revenue, users can also buy additional clover as currency. There’s plenty of potential; Neko Atsume’s popular feline characters are now featured in playthings, volumes and even a movie.
” I like the position it carries: living a simple life , no sophistication at all ,” told Chen Jiajia, an accountant at a logistics company. The 29 -year-old tells she checks in on her frog, named fantuan, or rice ball, a few times a day.
David OReilly, a game decorator whose run appeared in the Spike Jonez film ” Her ,” said games are evolving beyond button-mashing and puzzle-solving. Tabi Kaeru is a good example of one that strives to calm instead of stimulate.” The internet, games, the screens we look at also require quiet areas ,” said OReilly, whose titles Mountain and Everything embody that spirit.” What we think of now as games will change radically in the next 5 to 10 years as more creators enter the space .”
It still isn’t clear whether Tabi Kaeru will be a hit outside of Asia. It hasn’t produced much buzz in U.S. And while 2014′ s Neko Atsume gained popularity in Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and the Netherlands, for now the traveling frog might be limited to intersecting merely one pond.
Monetising millennials: what the corporate world thinks it knows about young people4 months, 14 days ago
At Sydneys Millennial 20/20 seminar the wifi password is SmashedAvo and the position is predatory infantilisation
Before the opening keynote of the Millennial 20/20 Sydney conference, a human strides up, folds me into a boardroom-firm handshake and gazes deep into my eyes.
His impeccably tailored business shirt, open to the third button, and swept-back blond hair attain him look like a more handsome version of the Trump sons, maybe a second cousin. But our meeting is an error; I inadvertently sat in one of the conference’s many designated networking spaces, signalling that I wish to be approached. By the time I apologise and move away, he is deep in conversation with someone else.
Millennial 20/20, held the coming week, was a two-day session of several hundred marketing executives, CEOs, startup founders, digital salespeople, youth publishers and app developers all looking to answer one question: how to persuade, coax, distract, datamine or otherwise compel young people to give their companies money. Representatives from some of the largest brands in the world gathered to swap success narratives, share tips, and peacock their youth-whisperer cred in front of any potential poachers.
Junior vice-presidents from blue-chip firms such as Telstra, Microsoft and Mondelez International rub elbows with more familiar brands such as Airbnb, Deliveroo and Pandora. New media doyens from Vice and BuzzFeed circle, chatting with swarms of emissaries from adventurously named attires you’ve never heard of, like Zuper and Paddl. Together they comprise a large portion of what is nebulously termed the” new economy” and a not-insignificant slice of the global one, so their collective perception of my generation carries weight, whether it’s accurate or not.
After two days surrounded by that collective perception, the believe is not promoting.
Millennial 20/20 is at Carriageworks, a vast converted former railway depot in Redfern. When home to a meeting like this, the venue becomes the exposed-brick-and-beam embodiment of the bloodless one-world aesthetic the conference is here to spruik; all reappropriated industrial working-class swank and graffiti reading “HOPE”.
A ping-pong table, unloved redoubt of startup offices the world over, sits neglected to one side, the “Double Happiness” slogan adorning it neither noticed nor understood. The Economist sponsorship stand is handing out free vegetable smoothies, ostensibly to make a point about food waste. The hand soap dispenser in the bathroom bears a Mark Twain quote exhorting me to” Explore. Dream. Discover .”. The wifi password is “SmashedAvo”.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Don’t worry about AI running bad- the minds behind it are the hazard | John Naughton4 months, 28 days ago
Killer robots remain a thing of futuristic nightmare. The real menace from artificial intelligence is far more immediate
As the science fiction novelist William Gibson famously find:” The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed .” I wish people would pay more attention to that adage whenever the subject of artificial intelligence( AI) comes up. Public discourse about it invariably focuses on the threat( or promise, depending on your point of view) of “superintelligent” machines, ie ones that display human-level general intelligence, even though such devices have been 20 to 50 years away ever since we first started worrying about them. The likelihood( or mirage) of such machines still remains a remote prospect, a phase made by the leading AI researcher Andrew Ng, who said that he worries about superintelligence in the same route that he frets about overpopulation on Mars.
That seems about right to me. If one were a conspiracy theorist, one might ask if our obsession with a highly speculative future has been intentionally orchestrated to divert attention from the fact- pace Mr Gibson- that lower-level but exceedingly powerful AI is already here and playing an ever-expanding role in shaping our economies, societies and politics. This technology is a combination of machine learning and big data and it’s everywhere, controlled and deployed by a handful of powerful corporations, with occasional walk-on components assigned to national security agencies.
These corporations consider this version of “weak” AI as the biggest thing since sliced bread. The CEO of Google burbles about” AI everywhere” in his company’s offerings. Same goes for the other digital giants. In the face of this hype onslaught, it takes a certain amount of heroism to stand up and ask awkward topics. If this stuff is so powerful, then surely we ought to be looking at how it is being used, asking whether it’s legal, ethical and good for society- and thinking about what will happen when it gets into the hands of people who are even worse than the folks who run the big tech firms. Because it will.
Fortunately, there are scholars who have started to ask these awkward topics. There are, for example, the researchers who work at AI Now, a research institute at New York University focused on the social implications of AI. Their 2017 report attains interesting reading. Last week assured the publication of more in the same vein- a new critique of the technology by 26 experts from six major universities, plus a number of independent thinktanks and NGOs.
Its title- The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention and Mitigation- tells it all. The report fills a serious gap in our thinking about this stuff. We’ve heard the hype, corporate and governmental, about the wonderful things AI can supposedly do and we’ve begun to pay attention to the unintentional downsides of legitimate applications of the technology. Now the time has come to pay attention to the really malign things bad actors could do with it.
The report looks at three main “domains” in which we can expect problems. One is digital security. The utilize of AI to automate chores involved in carrying out cyber-attacks will alleviate the existing trade-off between the scale and efficacy of attacks. We can also expect assaults that exploit human vulnerabilities( for example, through the use of speech synthesis for impersonation ), existing software vulnerabilities( through automated hacking) or the vulnerabilities of legitimate AI systems( through corruption of the data rivers on which machine learning depends ).
A second threat domain is physical security- assaults with dronings and autonomous weapons systems.( Think v2. 0 of the hobbyist dronings that Isis deployed, but this time with face-recognition technology on board .) We can also expect new various kinds of attacks that subvert physical systems- causing autonomous vehicles to accident, say- or ones deploying physical systems that would be impossible to remotely control from a distance: a thousand-strong swarm of micro-drones, for example.
Finally, there’s what the authors call” political security”- using AI to automate tasks involved in surveillance, persuasion( creating targeted propaganda) and misrepresentation( eg, manipulating videos ). We can also expect new kinds of attack based on machine-learning’s capability to infer human behaviours, moods and beliefs from available data. This technology will obviously be welcomed by authoritarian countries, but it will also further undermine the capacities of republics to sustain truthful public debates. The bots and fake Facebook accounts that currently pollute our public sphere will look awfully amateurish in a couple of years.
The report is available as a free download and is worth read in full. If it were about the dangers of future or speculative technologies, then it might be reasonable to reject it as academic scare-mongering. The alarming thing is most of the problematic capabilities that its authors envisage are already available and in many cases are currently embedded in many of the networked services that we use every day. William Gibson was right: the future has already arrived.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
My night out in Cleveland with the worst men on the internet5 months, 23 days ago
At the Republican convention, Laurie Penny was invited to a rally led by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopolous and an unholy cast of characters united behind Donald Trump for whom turning raw rage into political currency is merely a game
This is a story about how trolls took the wheel of the clown auto of modern politics. Its a narrative about the insider traders of the attention economy. Its a tale about dread and disgust and Donald Trump and you and me. Its not a tale about Milo Yiannopoulos, the professional alt-right provocateur who was last week banned from Twitter for directing racist abuse towards the actor Leslie Jones.
But it does start with Milo. So I should probably explain how we know each other and how, on a hot, weird night in Cleveland, Ohio, I came to be riding in the backseat of his swank black trollmobile to the gayest neo-fascist rally at the Republican national convention.
Milo Yiannopoulos is a charming devil and one of the most serious people I know. I have assured the death of political discourse reflected in his designer sunglasses. It chills me. We satisfied four years ago when he was just another floppy-haired rightwing pundit and we were guests on a panel show. Afterwards, we got hammered and ran around the BBC talking about boys.
Since that day, there is absolutely nothing I have been able to say to Milo to persuaded him that we are not friends. The more famous he gets off the back of extravagantly abusing women and minorities, the more I tell him I dislike him and everything he stands for, the more he chuckles and asks when were drinking.
Feminism is cancer is one of Milos slogans, and yet it took him only seconds after learning we would both be at the RNC to offer me a lift to his Wake Up! rally. This time God help me I said yes.
Read more: www.theguardian.com