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A group of child miners, looking grimy and miserable, standing in a blasted gravel wasteland. To their left, standing on a hill, is a club-wielding, mad-eyed, top-hatted debt collector, brandishing a document bearing an Android logo.

Today for my podcast, I read Subprime gadgets, originally published in my Pluralistic blog:

I recorded this on a day when I was home between book-tour stops (I’m out with my new techno crime-thriller, The Bezzle). Catch me on April 11 in Boston with Randall Munroe, on April 12th in Providence, Rhode Island, then onto Chicago, Torino, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and beyond! The canonical link for the schedule is here.

The promise of feudal security: “Surrender control over your digital life so that we, the wise, giant corporation, can ensure that you aren’t tricked into catastrophic blunders that expose you to harm”:


The tech giant is a feudal warlord whose platform is a fortress; move into the fortress and the warlord will defend you against the bandits roaming the lawless land beyond its walls.

That’s the promise, here’s the failure: What happens when the warlord decides to attack you? If a tech giant decides to do something that harms you, the fortress becomes a prison and the thick walls keep you in.


Here’s that tour schedule!

11 Apr: Harvard Berkman-Klein Center, with Randall Munroe

12 Apr: RISD Debates in AI, Providence

17 Apr: Anderson’s Books, Chicago, 19h:

19-21 Apr: Torino Biennale Tecnologia

2 May, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Winnipeg

5-11 May: Tartu Prima Vista Literary Festival

6-9 Jun: Media Ecology Association keynote, Amherst, NY

(Image: Oatsy, CC BY 2.0, modified)