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).
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).
- Lessons of History: summary in bullets (medium.com, 2)
“Lessons of History” by Will and Ariel Durant is a great book. I’ve read it a while ago but still found this summary in bullet points useful to refresh its insights. Whether you did read the book or not, for anyone who strives to understand why things are happening the way they do, this is an essential summary.
- My Computer (hawking.org.uk, 1)
The technology that Stephen Hawking (who sadly just died) used to communicate with the world.
- Walkable Cities Enjoy More Freedom (adamsmith.org, 2)
The value of walk-ability in a city goes beyond physical health benefits.
- What does AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol tell us about the interaction between humans and intelligent systems (medium.com, 2)
“We don’t trust the machine when decisions appear silly/creative although they optimize for the end results.”
- We are not addicted to smartphones, we are addicted to social interaction (medicalxpress.com, 2)
- The Questions To Ask About The News (scottberkun.com, 2)
Asking questions about news before considering them as worth knowing is presumably more important than ever.
- Say goodbye to the information age: it’s all about reputation now (aeon.co, 2)
This goes in a similar vein as the article before, focusing on one specific aspect of the process of evaluating information: the reputation of its provider.
- Don’t go where the puck is going (invertedpassion.com, 2)
A reasonable plea to be highly skeptical of predictions about the future.
- Inside the booming black market for Spotify playlists (dailydot.com, 3)
It’s always the same: When a digital platform becomes hugely successful, unintended consequences happen and malicious actors take advantage of loopholes. But the Spotify management at least can be happy that it won’t accidentally damage democracy.
- ‘They’ll squash you like a bug’: how Silicon Valley keeps a lid on leakers (theguardian.com, 2)
Considering how much is at stake and the extend of scrutiny by journalists and activists nowadays, it’s likely that the tech giants will become even more tough on every (potential) leaker. Which can easily backfire, because some of those working at these companies must be rather frustrated themselves about the impact their employers have on global politics and polarization, i.e. number of people willing to leak no matter the cost might actually grow.
- Google gives up on tablets: Android P marks an end to its ambitious efforts to take on Apple’s iPad (appleinsider.com, 3)
For a long time, Google has tried to make a dent in the tablet market. But it just did not go very well.
- Bridges and LIDAR (ben-evans.com, 2)
Insightful reflection on the role of bridge technology.
- Americans are now more impatient online shoppers than ever — and it’s all because of Amazon (businessinsider.com, 1)
Waiting for a product to arrive can indeed be quite a challenge in patience nowadays.
- The German entrepreneurs celebrating their mistakes (bbc.com, 2)
In some countries, failure is frowned upon and stigmatized more than in others. Germany definitely falls into this category.
- The ICO paradox and how to fix it (blog.sia.tech, 2)
Turns out, some companies that raise money through an ICO based on a so called “utility token” have an economical disincentive to deliver a working network.
- A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is “100 percent fatal” (technologyreview.com, 2)
This article has been all over the place recently, but just in case you have missed it…
- The AI solution you’re building might cost people their jobs. Here’s why you should care. (medium.freecodecamp.org, 2)
To what extend should developers of technology that automates human labor abstain from doing so? A tricky question with various facets.
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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