Weekly Links & Thoughts #171

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
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  • Where Humans Meet Machines: Intuition, Expertise and Learning (medium.com, 2)
    What Daniel Kahneman, behavioral economist, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner, thinks about algorithms making decisions. Probably unsurprisingly for those who have read his book “Thinking, fast and slow”, he worries more about human decision making  than algorithmic one. (medium.com, 2)
  • Fascism is back. Blame the Internet. (washingtonpost.com, 2)
    Heavy headline, but an opinion piece which resonated with me. Currently I see a 20 % probability that the internet (or rather what it does to and with people) eventually will lead to a turning away from the principles of the enlightenment, a collapse of modern civilization and a time akin to the Middle Ages. Notably, this also means that I consider it still more likely that humanity will find ways to constructively deal with the networked age. I hope. Yet, it’s very clear that on an aggregate level, the consequences of the internet are posing quite a challenge to humanity and the still pretty primitive and easily mislead (collective, tribal) human mind.
  • How a Pentagon Contract Became an Identity Crisis for Google (nytimes.com, 2)
    Google wants to work with the Pentagon in the field of AI and considers this type of partnership necessary for competitive reasons, but a significant number of Google employees hate the idea. According to this article, the internal debates are even more heated than those following the infamous “Google memo” last year.
  • AI winter is well on its way (blog.piekniewski.info, 3)
    Whether there will be another AI winter or not: Currently, an increasing number of experts in the field of artificial intelligence appear to become disappointed with the pace of progress within the field.
  • Machine learning is helping computers spot arguments online before they happen (theverge.com, 2)
    I want this technology for real conversations. As a locally run app (for privacy reasons) on a phone or smartwatch which alerts people if a conversation that they are having is turning tense. This could help save many relationships and marriages.
  • Spotify’s Censorship Crisis is About Social Responsibility (musicindustryblog.wordpress.com, 2)
    How should music streaming services and other content platforms deal with editorial choices in regards to social responsbility? It’s not easy, as shown by Spotify’s recent controversy surrounding the removal of artists such as R. Kelly from its playlists.
  • Would You Have Hired Steve Jobs? (medium.com, 2)
    Thought-provoking question. Many probably would not have. But maybe even rightly so. Some people are not made to be employees.
  • The Beginning of the Future (howwegettonext.com, 2)
    A delightful collection of visual art created over the past couple of centuries depicting the future.
  • The Birth And Death Of Privacy: 3,000 Years of History Told Through 46 Images (medium.com, 3)
    Another historical visual trip, equally enlightening. At the end of it, it’s hard not to see how privacy probably will turn out to have been a very temporary phenomenon (at least for the masses).
  • Indistractable: How to Focus In and Tune Out Digital Distraction (medium.com, 2)
    Nir Eyal has performed quite an impressive personal pivot: From the guy who taught app developers how to make users “hooked” to the guy who teaches users how to stop being so hooked. Like the drug dealer who later opens a rehab clinic.
  • Why Startup Timing is Everything (medium.com, 2)
    On the importance of the right timing to be successful with a startup.
  • The Rise of the Muslim Woman Tech Entrepreneur (nytimes.com, 2)
    Some interesting numbers in this piece detailing the unusual high number of women in traditionally male tech sectors in some Muslim-majority countries.
  • Go Ahead, Skip that Networking Event (hbr.org, 2)
    The author reviewed dozens of studies on networking and the overall implications are that networking events don’t live up to their billing.
  • Unquantified (nomasters.io, 2)
    Not quantifying anything is my default state (ok sometimes I check how many kilometers I walked during a day, but it’s not essential – one can always make a fairly accurate guess), and I am happy with it. But maybe the older I get, the more I’ll be realizing the benefits of monitoring certain body data. I am not ruling that out.
  • Desperate for jobs, Venezuelan immigrants turn to ride-hailing services across Latin America (techcrunch.com, 2)
    How on-demand ride-hailing services benefit from the Venezuelan crisis. I’m currently in Colombia and here, most Uber drivers seem to be locals. But according to the article, it’s different in other countries of the region.
  • Why The Heck Is Bird Potentially Worth $1B? (news.crunchbase.com, 2)
    The latest tech fad in the U.S. are electric scooters. Investors seem to love this new smart mobility niche, but so far, the economic performance of the leading startup in that field, Bird, looks rather modest.
  • Estonia plans to become a free public transport nation (popupcity.net, 1)
    Certainly “free” public transport is not really free, it’s paid for through taxes. Still, it’s great to see that this seems to work out well for Tallinn (and Estonia).

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