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Digital witchcraft: the rise of the virtual coven




Technology has driven witchcraft from the fringes, right into our Instagram feeds

If you’ve seen tarot, crystals or meditation pop up on your TikTok ‘for you page,’ it’s likely that you’ve stumbled across #witchtok. As interest in traditional religion dwindles, young women are using this space to reclaim their spirituality.

The unexpected rise of #witchtok

The ‘witchtok’ hashtag has racked up a total of over 11 billion views since it kicked off on TikTok in 2019. Since then, the community has established an impressive following on other social platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

So what is witchcraft, and why is it so popular online?

David Garland from Pagan Awareness Network says anyone can do witchcraft. He says it’s a craft you can develop with practice, much like knitting.

“Witchcraft is the act of invoking change using your environment.”

David Garland, Pagan Awareness Network

Garland says the Pagan community should embrace #witchtok. “If it makes people think and consider spiritual alternatives, then it’s not a bad thing,” he said.

Spirituality without the rules

The interest in witchcraft driven by #witchtok comes at a time where young people are increasingly turning away from traditional religion.

Danae Moon Thorpe, owner of Spellbox and self-proclaimed witch says many young people are drawn to the community’s founding ideas of empowerment and self-determination. 

“We live in a world that’s increasingly turning away from spirituality,” she says.

“Religion often brings dogma and rules. This is like a philosophy, a way of connecting. It’s a way of being. And it’s different for everyone.”

Danae Moon Thorpe

Rise of the wellness industry

Another reason for the sudden interest in digital witchcraft might even be the rise of the wellness industry.

Wellness is a $700 billion industry and expected to grow to nearly a trillion by 2021.

To me, self care is being real. And being authentic. Often, we lose ourselves so witchcraft is always about connecting with nature and others,” says Danae Moon.

The feminist reclamation

There’s a reason the new witches are primarily young women – experts say witchcraft can be a profoundly feminist practice.

“The major religions of the world are patriarchal and worship men,” says Skye Alexander, author of more than two dozen books on spirituality, including The Modern Guide to Witchcraft. 

“This stimulates an interest in goddess-based spirituality, where it’s all about feminine energy and power.”

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

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Elon Musk and experts call for six-month pause on A.I.



The Future of Life Institute fears there may be potential risks to society

Elon Musk and a group of leading A.I. experts are calling for a six-month pause on developing systems, more powerful than OpenAI latest version of GPT-4.

The Future of Life Institute fears there may be potential risks to society.

In an open letter signed by some of the biggest and influential minds in tech, the Institute wants the pause so frameworks can be constructed to better handle A.I.

“Powerful A.I. systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable,” the open letter said.

British computer scientist Stewart Russell is a signatory to the open letter, and he explains what is occurring in the sector that scares him.

“With what is gestating in computer and research labs, is for general purpose A.I,” Russell declared recently. “A.I. that can do anything that the human mind can be turned to.

“Because of the enormous advantages machines have over humans, I expect general purpose A.I. will far exceed human capabilities in almost every dimension.”

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Alibaba shares soar as company breaks into parts



Alibaba shares have soared as company executives announce a business shake-up

It’s been a good day for investors in Chinese tech giant Alibaba.

Shares in the company soared as executives announced a plan to break the business into parts.

Alibaba’s commerce leader says he will split the $220 billion empire into six individual units.

The major restructuring is the company’s biggest in 24 years.

Alibaba shares gained more than 14 per cent in New York and were up 13 per cent in Hong Kong.

The move follows reports Alibaba founder Jack Ma resurfaced in China this week after a long absence.

The units will have their own chief executives and boards of directors.

They will be allowed to raise capital and seek stock market listings.

Alibaba says the units will “capture opportunities in their respective markets and industries, thereby unlocking the value of Alibaba Group’s respective businesses”.

“The market is the best litmus test, and each business group and company can pursue independent fundraising and IPOs when they are ready,” says chief executive Daniel Zhang. #trending #featured

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Facial recognition has been used a million times by U.S. police



Controversial facial recognition has been used a million times by police to help track criminals

As facial recognition becomes more prominent, the founder of tech firm Clearview says his company has run nearly a million searches for U.S. police.

It’s also been revealed the company has scraped 30 billion images from platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, taken without users’ permissions.

The company has been fined numerous times in Europe and countries like Australia for breaches of privacy laws.

In the U.S., critics say the use of Clearview by authorities puts everyone into a “police line-up”.

The company’s high-tech system allows law enforcement to upload a photo of a face and find matches in a database comprising of billions of images it has collected.

It then provides links to where matching images appear online.

The tool is considered to be one of the world’s most powerful and accurate.

While the company is banned from selling its services to most U.S. companies, there is an exemption for police.

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