When will tech solve the real problems, critics ask? … Assuming that this complaint is sincere, it nonetheless misses the point. What are “real” problems? … It’s a convoluted way of saying that the author wants to deputize Google, Facebook, Apple, and other tech companies to solve social problems.
Tech critics should be very careful what they wish for when they say that they wish that tech companies would tackle the “real” problems. What they are asking for is for tech companies to engineer solutions to social problems, and in particular they are asking for the top-down engineering of solutions to social problems by experts, bureaucrats, scientists, and engineers. This rational design process does not generally improve intractable social problems in flawed systems and if anything is the source of new problems.
a key characteristic of many social problems is a basic disagreement about what to measure and how to measure it.
it is also amusing that the call for the tech world to save us occurs at a time of popular panic over artificial intelligence. … There is a danger from a superintelligent, hyper rational, paperclip optimizing artificial intelligence. … Actually, it’s already taken control. … Yes, dear reader, I speak of the federal government.
The bureaucratic dimension of technical rationality can be considered a kind of artificial superintelligence, at least because most of people’s nonsensical fantasies of superpowerful, superintelligent, and hyper-rational beings tend to describe what already exists in large, impersonal bureaucracies. The pathologies of technical rationality are in fact the nightmare scenario that Musk and Hawking so fear.
The manner in which tech makes a difference or deals with a hard problem is important, and the mere fact that some tech company or funding agency for a technical project is tackling a hard problem that matters does not inherently make it a Good Thing (TM).
Source: The Manhattan Project Fallacy
The U.S. voters who rejected decades of bipartisan foreign-policy consensus might be on to something.
So far this century, America has failed to achieve most of the key national-security objectives it has set for itself. … We’d better ask why.
The alternative to dealing with other major powers as equals is to confront them as rivals.
Source: What’s So Great About American World Leadership? – The Atlantic
The first problem is that saying is believing. This is an old and well-studied phenomenon, though perhaps understudied in social media. So when you see a post … and you retweet or repost it, it’s not a neutral transaction. You, the reposter, don’t end that transaction unchanged.
It’s worthwhile to note as well that the nature of social media is we’re more likely to share inflammatory posts than non-inflammatory ones
from Facebook’s perspective they have two goals, and neither is about the quality of the community or well-being of its members. The first goal is to keep you creating Facebook content in the form of shares, likes, and comments. … The second Facebook goal is to keep you on the site at all costs, since this is where they can serve you ads.
There will be a lot of talk in the coming days about this or that change Facebook is looking at. But look at these two issues to get the real story:
- Do they promote deep reading over interaction?
- Do they encourage you to leave the site, even when the link is not inflammatory?
The larger problem is the far larger number of people who see the headlines and do not reshare them. Why is this a problem? Because for the most part, our brains equate “truth” with “things we’ve seen said a lot by people we trust.” The literature in this area is vast—it’s one of the reasons, for example, that so many people believe that global warming is a hoax.
Source: Facebook extremism and fake news: How Facebook is training us to be conspiracy theorists — Quartz
America’s top spy and the future of surveillance.
“Is spying moral?”
After a pause, Clapper answered unapologetically: “We can do our job with a clear conscience, but we have to be careful. The history of the intelligence community is replete with violations of the trust of the American people.” That doesn’t mean that the job is immoral—it just means the job has to be done correctly. “I have always accepted intelligence was an honorable profession. We are all mindful of the need to comply with our moral values and the law.”
Source: America’s Top Spy James Clapper and the Future of Cyberwar and Surveillance | WIRED
It’s all about the job-to-job transition rate.
recent research led by economists at the Federal Reserve in Washington, DC found that labor mobility has been broad based, affecting all types of workers and industrial sectors. This study also argues that the decline began all the way back in the 1980s
there is some evidence that a decline in “social trust” has made people less willing to change jobs as readily as before.
Source: The job-to-job transition rate: An obscure statistic that offers a clue to the rise of Donald Trump — Quartz