Weekly Links & Thoughts #166

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

Podcast episode of the week:

Quotation of the week:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #165

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

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If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

  • Why it’s as hard to escape an echo chamber as it is to flee a cult (aeon.co, 3)
    Possibly the best thing I’ve read on the topic of filter bubbles and echo chambers – two terms that are often used interchangeably. In this essay the philosophy professor C Thi Nguyen explains the crucial difference: Filter bubbles (or as he calls them, epistemic bubbles) happen when people don’t have access to different viewpoints and facts. This phenomenon is less common than widely assumed. Echo chambers on the other hand are social structures from which other relevant voices have been actively discredited. In echo chambers, there usually is no lack of access to different view points or facts – but there is no trust in them. This is why just throwing more facts at people in echo chambers does not work. Nguyen also offers a very helpful check: “Does a community’s belief system actively undermine the trustworthiness of any outsiders who don’t subscribe to its central dogmas? Then it’s probably an echo chamber.”
  • An Apology for the Internet — From the Architects Who Built It (nymag.com, 3+)
    What went wrong with the internet? Why did many of its lofty promises didn’t come true, whereas an ugly side of it has emerged that no one expected? A bunch of early internet architects and leading figures offer their critical and partly self-critical views.
  • The Price of Free is Actually Too High (feld.com, 1)
    Hard to make an objective statement here, but it seems reasonable to state that there should be a cap to the price of free.
  • The Half-Life of Danger: The Truth Behind the Tesla Model X Crash (thedrive.com, 3)
    Smart analysis of the uncanny valley of automated driving, where understanding it requires a level of driver training equivalent to that of pilots. You also find some really funky matrices in here.
  • When algorithms surprise us (aiweirdness.com, 2)
    When machine learning algorithms solve entirely different problems from the ones the programmer intended.
  • Inside the Jordan refugee camp that runs on blockchain (technologyreview.com, 3)
    Critics say one might easily just use a traditional database. But there is something to the idea of owning and controlling one’s data, and for this, a blockchain is presumably the more feasible approach.
  • Post-Authenticity and the Ironic Truths of Meme Culture (medium.com, 3)
    A thought-provoking attempt to connect contemporary phenomena and trends such as fake news, authenticity, irony and memes.
  • Want to feel unique? Believe in the reptile people (aeon.co, 2)
    Why do some people believe in extreme conspiracy theories? It might be because of a deep-seated need for uniqueness.
  • Consumers don’t need experts to interpret 23andMe genetic risk reports (statnews.com, 1)
    Anne Wojcicki, the CEO and co-founder of 23andMe, a company that has pioneered providing accessible consumer DNA tests, believes that people don’t need a medical professional nearby when learning about genetic risks. In a recent essay, Mikaela Pitcan pointed out though that the reaction towards learning about risks differs significantly from person to person.
  • How to save your privacy from the Internet’s clutches (techcrunch.com, 3)
    A comprehensive list of tips to escape “surveillance capitalism”.
  • The New Octopus (logicmag.io, 3)
    What to do when corporate entities become too big and too powerful? The recipes of the past don’t necessarily work anymore with today’s new giants.
  • The Paradox of Universal Basic Income (wired.com, 2)
    Joi Ito with a very nuanced take on the UBI.
  • World After Capital: Scarcity (continuations.com, 2)
    How scarcity has shifted over time from food to land to capital and is now shifting to attention.
  • Duolingo Suddenly Has Over Twice As Much Language Learning Material (fastcompany.com, 2)
    I’d call Duolingo one of the best, most beneficial commercial web services in existence. Recently a cab driver in Colombia told me that he learned English through Duolingo and by subsequently talking with passengers. There must be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of similar cases.
  • The axes of HomePod evolution: don’t judge what you can’t yet see (theoverspill.blog, 2)
    Every major Apple product has been an MVP (minimal viable product) when it first hit the market and gradually received missing features and services. HomePod most likely is no exception.
  • A Big Phone (mattgemmell.com, 2)
    Attempts to use an iPad as a notebook replacement have been a thing ever since the iPad was introduced. Reading this makes me wonder if now maybe is the point at which this actually could work without too many sacrifices.
  • Why New York City Stopped Building Subways (citylab.com, 3)
    Insane if you think about it: “Since December 16, 1940, New York has not opened another new subway line“.

Quotation of the week:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #164

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

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If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

Podcast episode of the week:

  • The Knowledge Project: Learning How to Learn

    Barbara Oakley, who teaches the most popular massive open online course in the world, talks about learning, how to do it best, and how to waste your time while thinking that you are learning.

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #163

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

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If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #162

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

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If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

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The slippery slope of accepting casualties caused by self-driving cars

Last week’s first ever deadly accident with a self-driving car was tragic for the victim. It was also inevitable. No sane person would expect the technology already to be perfect. In fact, probably few would expect the technology to ever be so perfect that the number of (fatal) accidents could be reduced to zero.

It’s also clear that more severe accidents involving autonomous cars will follow. This reality might sound harsh when put into words, but everybody today participating in traffic (whether as driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian) is silently acknowledging the existing risk in the same way: We know that an accident could happen, but we consider the upside of mobility being much bigger than the risk of a crash. And rightly so.

There is a peculiarity with accidents involving autonomous cars though: The question of responsibility beyond the legal liability. As outlined in this piece, from a legal point of view, the emerging scenarios could probably be solved. But another issue remains: It is a basic rule of modern human civilization (outside of war zones) that if one person is harmed, then this person or his/her relatives and friends crave to see a face of someone who caused or was in some way participating in the harm – regardless of whether this person will be deemed legally responsible. Continue Reading

Revolut and N26, please be successful in disrupting banking

For years, the promise of FinTech startups disrupting the complacent and technologically lagging consumer banks of Europe has been a theoretical one. Now this is finally changing, with two rapidly emerging and well-funded players expanding across Europe (and beyond): London-based Revolut and Berlin-based N26.

Both startups are offering banking services built for the mobile age, in a free and a paid premium plan. While initial doubts about their longevity were justified (as with any startup entering a highly regulated, complicated industry), considering the size of recent funding rounds, chances are good that both services will stick around for a while. N26 just raised $130 million from Tencent and Allianz Group. Revolut pocketed $66 million in a Series B last year from Index Ventures and others. Continue Reading

Facebook’s data scandal: A time for everyone to be humble and self-critical

In the early years of the existence of Facebook’s platform, app developers were able to access the data of friends of a user who installed the app and gave the necessary permissions. That’s the method Cambridge Analytica used for allegedly accumulating personal data of 50 million Facebook users.

In a trenchant blog post, James Allworth describes the dramatic extent to which the Facebook platform through its Graph API allowed third party apps to harvest data from in theory every user registered and active on Facebook, until the rules were changed in 2015. “What was Facebook thinking?”, he rightly wonders.

But here is another, equally astonishing question: Why did no one else see this coming? Continue Reading

Weekly Links & Thoughts #161

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend (but temporarily on a slightly irregular schedule).

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If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

Quotation of the week:

  • “It is human preferences, not machines, that are unpredictable and incomparable, as well they should be. For coordinating our interactions with strangers, impartial automata are often crucial.”
    Nick Szabo in “Things as authorities“, back in 2006. (unenumerated.blogspot.com)

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #160

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend (but temporarily on a slightly irregular schedule).

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If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

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