Weekly Links & Thoughts #144

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET) or slightly earlier, 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

  • ‘I Forgot My PIN’: An Epic Tale of Losing $30,000 in Bitcoin (wired.com, 3)
    Mark Frauenfelder, co-founder of the online tech magazine Boing Boing, went through hell after storing 7.4 Bitcoin on a hardware wallet and then losing access to it.
  • Tools for Systems Thinkers: The 6 Fundamental Concepts of Systems Thinking (medium.com, 2)
    Essential stuff in our day and age, as far as I see it: Key insights and tools needed to develop and advance a systems mindset for dealing with complex problem solving.
  • The Real Story of Automation (medium.com, 3)
    “At what point will enough people recognize that automation is a very real problem that must be confronted immediately”, wonders Scott Santens and offers lot of data points to support his plea for urgency.
  • Computers and the Future of Skill Demand (oecd.org, 1 or 3)
    Very long report. The executive summary is probably sufficient except if you really want to dive deep into this topic. Here is the gist: “Most workers in OECD countries use the three skills every day. However, computers are close to reproducing these skills at the proficiency level of most adults in the workforce. Only 13% of workers now use these skills on a daily basis with a proficiency that is clearly higher than computers.”
  • Google’s AI can create better machine-learning code than the researchers who made it (thenextweb.com, 2)
    Is it just an increased media coverage or might the year 2017 turn out to be a tipping point for AI hitting the mainstream?
  • Chasm of comprehension (eugenewei.com, 2)
    I just mentioned the tipping point. Maybe another way to put it is to state that 2017 could become the year in which most AI experts and software engineers in the field stop to understand what their most sophisticated algorithms actually are doing. From this piece: “We’ve long thought that artificial intelligence might surpass us eventually by thinking like us, but better. But the more likely scenario, as recent developments have shown us, is that the most powerful AI may not think like us at all, and we, with our human brains, may never understand how they think.
  • The 10 Top Recommendations for the AI Field in 2017 (medium.com, 2)
    So what can we as societies (but also as humanity as a whole) do to make the best out of this completely new situation? The New York-based AI Now Institute has a bunch of intriguing and thought-provoking suggestions.
  • The Future of Online Dating Is Unsexy and Brutally Effective (gizmodo.com, 3)
    Interesting read, although I am probably a bit more optimistic than the author about how the use of AI and data will impact dating.
  • Silicon Valley is dividing society, and making everyone really angry (newsweek.com, 2)
    The author Jamie Bartlett put something in words which I have been feeling a lot lately, but haven’t managed to verbalize: “And for all the newfound fear of social media creating echo-chambers or filter-bubbles of likeminded people, I think it often does the precise opposite. It’s incredibly easy to find opposing views on social media. I’ve never seen so many knaves and fools as pollute my timelines. Social media allows you to find the worst examples of other tribes.” This really is food for thought.
  • How to Fix Facebook? We Asked 9 Experts (nytimes.com, 2)
    Surprisingly, every single person asked seems to assume that Facebook can be fixed. But that is not a law of nature, is it? I have my doubts about the service’s ability to fix itself.
  • The Web began dying in 2014, here’s how (staltz.com, 3)
    Alarming and in my eyes not overly exaggerated essay on how Google, Facebook and Amazon are taking over the web to an extend at which it’ll be rendered irrelevant for the majority of people. Slightly related: When it comes to cloud services, Amazon seems unbeatable.
  • Why Snapchat Spectacles failed (techcrunch.com, 2)
    This whole claim by Snap of being a “camera company” hasn’t really delivered yet. And maybe it never will.
  • Social Capital Will Let Data Decide Where It Invests (fortune.com, 1)
    An approach to early-stage startup investing which rejects the conventional approach with sourcing from personal networks and pitches – the outcome is (maybe unsurprisingly) a lot more diversity among funded founders.
  • Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens (wired.co.uk, 3)
    Kinda terrifying development. The big question: Is China just at the forefront of a development which eventually will unfold everywhere or are there other realistic approaches to embrace ubiquitous connectivity as a society while protecting people’s integrity while also simultaneously protecting citizens from people and groups with destructive and violent agendas? This is as much a technical as a philosophical question.

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