Cory Doctorow: Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags

Source: Cory Doctorow: Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags – Locus Online

while the acknowledgment of the problem of Big Tech is most welcome, I am worried that the diagnosis is wrong. … we’re confusing automated persuasion with automated targeting. … Facebook isn’t a mind-control ray. It’s a tool for finding people who possess uncommon, hard-to-locate traits, whether that’s “person thinking of buying a new refrigerator,” “person with the same rare disease as you,” or “person who might participate in a genocidal pogrom,”

It’s fashionable to treat the dysfunctions of social media as the result of the naivete of early technologists, who failed to foresee these outcomes. The truth is that the ability to build Facebook-like services is relatively common. What was rare was the moral recklessness necessary to go through with it.

dossiers on billions of people hold the power to wreak almost unimaginable harm, and yet, each dossier brings in just a few dollars a year. For commercial surveillance to be cost effective, it has to socialize all the risks associated with mass surveillance and privatize all the gains.

There’s an old-fashioned word for this: corruption. In corrupt systems, … the costs are widely diffused while the gains are tightly concentrated, so the beneficiaries of corruption can always outspend their victims to stay clear.

Facebook doesn’t have a mind-control problem, it has a corruption problem. Cambridge Analytica didn’t convince decent people to become racists; they convinced racists to become voters.

Complicating the Narratives – The Whole Story

Source: Complicating the Narratives – The Whole Story

What if journalists covered controversial issues differently — based on how humans actually behave when they are polarized and suspicious? … The idea is to revive complexity in a time of false simplicity.

How did you come to have your political views?

Haidt identifies six moral foundations that form the basis of political thought: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity.

What is dividing us?
How should we decide?
How did you come to that?
What is oversimplified about this issue?
How has this conflict affected your life?
What do you think the other side wants?
What’s the question nobody is asking?

listen not just to what [people] say — but to their “gap words,” or the things that they don’t say.

listen for specific clues or “signposts,” which are usually symptoms of deeper, hidden meaning. Signposts include words like “always” or “never,” any sign of emotion, the use of metaphors, statements of identity, words that get repeated or any signs of confusion or ambiguity. When you hear one of these clues, identify it explicitly and ask for more.

double check — give the person a distillation of what you thought they meant and see what they say.

Did the Victorians have faster reactions? – Mind Hacks

Source: Did the Victorians have faster reactions? – Mind Hacks, by Tom Stafford
RE: Woodley, M. A, te Nijenhuis, J., & Murphy, R. (2015). The Victorians were still faster than us. Commentary: Factors influencing the latency of simple reaction time. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 9, 452.

measurements of “simple reaction times” (SRTs)

(Woodley et al, 2015, Figure 1, “Secular SRT slowing across four large, representative studies from the UK spanning a century. Bubble-size is proportional to sample size. Combined N = 6622.”)

Trump’s top economic adviser has ditched the Phillips curve—and it’s not crazy

Source: Trump’s top economic adviser has ditched the Phillips curve—and it’s not crazy

For decades, the world’s central bankers have almost lived and died by the Phillips curve, and it predicted inflation and wage growth reasonably well until the 1980s. Since then, however, the relationship between the factors it is meant to predict has been more complicated.

Some economists argue (paywall) that the ways in which we measure the variables at play, like wage growth, unemployment and inflation, need to change—not the underlying theory. But questioning the theory—and perhaps arguing against it—is no longer an arrestable offense.