On the moral economy of tech; humans and their phones; algorithms that control us and how we control them; the problems of meat; politics and Brexit; trade and global income; stinky cities.
Note: Slightly shorter as I was in an intense 4-day management training this week. Sent from Oslo’s Gardermoen airport.
Dept of the near future
😠 On the moral economy of tech. Maciej Ceglowolski in BLISTERING form: “It’s time to hold technology politically accountable for its promises.”
🙄 Barry Ritholtz on culturally constructed ignorance. “Hyperbole and exaggeration is one thing, creating an alternative universe is something else entirely.” THOUGHTFUL (See also EV#24 for an introduction to agnotology.)
🔮 For AI to become widespread, we need “an understanding of how to build interfaces that put the power of these systems in the hands of their human users.” EXCELLENT
📲 The average human touches their phone 2,617 times per day. EYE OPENING. h/t @tinaasgari
🍖 Apart from being morally dubious, modern industrial meat farming is responsible for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. (Agriculture itself is on track for a third of all GHG emissions.) GOOD READ ht @samgilpin (See also Modern Meadow and animal-free leather.)
Dept of algorithmic implications
We’ve previously touched on many design & policy questions raised by algorithms: should they be explicable? How do they solve the trolley problem? What are our rights with respect to managing or controlling them? Several of these strands come together this week.
Facebook changes its newsfeed algorithm to favour personal content over publisher content. This is the algorithm which arguably optimises the most human attention on the planet.
A driver was killed when his Tesla which crashed while in autonomous mode.
Exploration of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation which includes a “policy on the right of citizens to receive an explanation for algorithmic decisions” and “highlights the pressing importance of human interpretability in algorithm design”.
An AI-controlled plane beat an experienced fighter pilot in simulated dogfights.
The MegaFace facial recognition challenge is designed to push machine-based facial recognition systems to the next level. (1m faces.)
The problems of language bias for AI: ”we all know that strong Sapir-Whorf is false, we seem to want it to be true for computational stuff"
The most well-funded AI companies. (Data)
Dept of politics
Did the events leading to the advisory referendum on Brexit held in the UK last week and the events currently unfolding mark some kind of watershed moment?
🔥💡 The greatest reshuffle in global incomes since the Industrial Revolution. The losers? Poorer people in the old Rich economics. ABSOLUTELY MUST READ from Branko Milanovic. (See also excellent Dani Rodrik on the need for a more progressive logic on trade.).
Which Brexit do voters really want? On the Condorcet paradox.
Philosopher A C Grayling’s letter to all British MPs: “to express a respectful but strongly held view that… Parliament should not support a motion to trigger Article 50”
Why we no longer trust experts by Gillian Tett
We are the 48. Emotive reader letter in the Financial Times.
The Cuckoo’s nest plot that brought down Boris Johnson reads like a thriller.
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
“We are all futurists.” A personal tribute from William Mougayar to Alvin Toffler who died last week.
📺 US adults consume an hour more media per day than they did last year. Our attention really is the gating factor.
The streaming music business is a terrible one says Mathew Ingram.
North America will get half of its electricity from non-carbon sources by 2025
👃 Before proper sanitation, cities reeked. How people survived the smell.
Gut microbiota eat a neurochemical responsible for mood. More evidence connecting gut & brain.
Telling yourself “I can do better next time” will improve your performance.
🇺🇸 Happy Fourth of July to American readers; and 🇨🇦 Happy Canada day for last week to Canadians!