Our picks of the week from around the web, including Google’s drone programme and an inside look at China’s Shenzhen, where much of our electronics are born.

Peter Thiel disagrees with you
Roger Parloff | Fortune | 4 September 2014
Profile of libertarian Christian venture capitalist Peter Thiel, described here as “perhaps America’s leading public intellectual”. That may overstate things: “Silicon Valley’s leading public intellectual” would be safer, while still counting as no small claim. Thiel co-founded PayPal and midwifed Facebook; his course on start-ups at Stanford has become the stuff of legend. Philosophically, he’s a highly motivated pessimist.

A Diagnosis
Jenny Diski | London Review Of Books | 3 September 2014 
It’s cancer. Which, for a writer, can only mean one thing. “A f–king cancer diary? Another f–king cancer diary? I think back to cancer diaries I have read, just because they’re there. You don’t seek cancer diaries out, they come at you as you turn the pages of magazines and newspapers or thumb through Twitter and blogs. How many have I read? I can’t remember, but they’ve spanned decades. Same story, same ending. Weariness.”

Notes on the celebrity data theft
Nik Cubrilovic | New Web Order | 2 September 2014
Technical and sociological explainer. Apple users are particularly vulnerable. “What we see in the public with these hacking incidents seems to only be scratching the surface. There are entire communities and trading networks where the data that is stolen remains private and is rarely shared with the public. The networks are broken down horizontally with specific people carrying out specific roles.”

Shenzhen trip report
Joi Ito | 1 September 2014
A walk through China’s tech-manufacturing capital, Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of hardware. “They do quad-band GSM, bluetooth, SMS, etc on a chip that costs about $2. The retail price of the cheapest full-featured phone is about $9. This could not be designed in the US. This could only be designed by engineers with tooling grease under their fingernails who knew the manufacturing equipment inside and out.”

IBM’s corporate songbook
Lee Hutchinson | Ars Technica | 29 August 2014
“The 1937 edition of the songbook is a 54-page monument to glassy-eyed corporate inhumanity, with every page overflowing with trite praise to The Company and Its Men. The booklet reads like a terribly parody of a hymnal – one that praises not the traditional Christian trinity but the new corporate triumvirate of IBM the Father, Watson the Son, and American entrepreneurship as the Holy Spirit.”

Game theory and team reasoning in sport
David Papineau | More Important Than That | 28 August 2014 
Teams are “curious things, more than the sum of their individual members”. They “add to the range of things that people care about, in a way that puts pressure on standard definitions of altruism”. Decision theory assumes that choices are made by individuals; but if you are part of a team, you address your problems differently. “Team reasoning can find solutions that individual decisions cannot reach.”

Inside Google’s drone programme
Alexis Madrigal | Atlantic | 28 August 2014
Google unveils a drone-delivery project, after two years’ secret development. The technology is now proven; the question is whether the service can be made to work at scale, and whether Google or Amazon gets there first. Google’s original priority was for drones to deliver defibrillators to heart-attack victims; that has been far overtaken by plans for a general service that can deliver small packages anywhere.

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