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.
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).
- The Power of the Algorithms: Pedro Domingos on the Arms Race in Artificial Intelligence (spiegel.de, 3)
An interview very much worth reading on the geopolitical dimensions of the AI arms race, the rise of China and the skeptical Germans and French.
- How Likes Went Bad (medium.com, 3)
This is an intelligent analysis of the fundamental role that the like gesture has played in the road towards today’s (party undesirable) status quo of the internet and attention economy. One of many interesting lines from the piece: “Applause is not a natural response, but a culturally conditioned act that has been used in different ways to create money and power over the centuries, from Roman emperors to television sitcoms.”
- I’m building a robot boyfriend—and you can, too (qz.com, 3)
Fei Liu writes about her ongoing project to build an open source robot boyfriend, and all the inevitable considerations and moral perspectives that have to be taken into account. One of the principles she follows: A love machine doesn’t always obey.
- You could be flirting on dating apps with paid impersonators (qz.com, 3)
Another addition to my list of “jobs of the future that are already here“: “Closers” for online-dating services.
- Underestimating the mind-warping potential of fake video (vox.com, 3)
This piece offers a comprehensive overview of the human memory’s severe flaws, which apply particularly when it comes to remembering things far in the past. With the ever-improving technology to fake historical documents and media, the risk of attempts to manipulate historic events is significant.
- Glitch Capitalism: How Cheating AIs Explain Our Stagnant Present (nymag.com, 2)
Malcolm Harris uses this interesting post by Janelle Shane about machine learning algorithms that use (questionable) shortcuts to fulfill their tasks as an analogy for how today’s capitalism incentivizes its actors to use shortcuts and loopholes in a similar vein, and with equally problematic results. Related read written by me some months ago: “Is Digital Capitalism Aligned With Public Interest? Probably not.” And yeah, Facebook just posted another record quarter…
- The two-pizza rule and the secret of Amazon’s success (theguardian.com, 2)
Amazon became the successful giant it is today thanks to its “flywheel” approach.
- Hollywood Is Wrong: Netflix Is the Future of Film (futurism.com, 1)
How can Hollywood possibly not realize that it will have to get along with Netflix and should work with it, not against it?
- The More of Everything Problem (ianhathaway.org, 2)
“More of Everything thinking goes something like this: if we just get more of everything, we can create a vibrant startup community… more capital, more innovation centers, more accelerators, more incubators, more university programs, more startup events… more, more, more.”
- Fake it till you make it: meet the wolves of Instagram (theguardian.com, 3)
Instagram is a place where youngish marketers who pretend to be really rich use affiliate pyramid schemes to sell to others the dream of getting really rich by using affiliate pyramid schemes.
- Top Takeaways From Studying iPhone X Owners (techpinions.com, 2)
The iPhone X is said to be a flop in some corners of the tech media, but it also appears to be a highly successful product if customer satisfaction is a measurement (however, personally, I did regret my purchase).
- How Tesla and Waymo are tackling a major problem for self-driving cars: data (theverge.com, 3)
Tesla and the Google subsidiary Waymo are approaching data collection in very different aways.
- Beyond Black Box Management (calnewport.com, 2)
Information workers should care about what helps their brain best in order to pay attention to what matters, yet almost no one does this.
- Where does the Internet go to ‘Change its mind’? (hackernoon.com, 2)
A short post about the intriguing Subreddit “Change my View“.
- Why Have We Soured on the ‘Devil’s Advocate’? (nytimes.com, 2)
Over the past 20 years, the dynamics and ramifications of online debates have radically changed, rendering the previously appreciated “devil’s advocate” rather unpopular. Nitsuh Abebe explores what happened.
- What we say vs what we mean: what is conversational implicature? (aeon.co, 3)
Fascinating analysis of one of the pillars of (effective) day-to-day communication, and one which no one consciously pays attention to.
- Magnasanti: The Largest and Most Terrifying SimCity (rumorsontheinternets.org, 2)
From 2010, but possibly more educative today than back then: A young man from the Philippines created a city with over six million inhabitants in SimCity 3000, beating the game’s official limits. It had no roads — all transit was mass transit. An omniscient police force had eliminated all crime in the city. Every person living in Magnasanti spent his/her life working and residing in one small, massively efficient block of space, until death around age 50.
Podcast episode of the week:
- The Jordan Harbinger Show: Will Storr | Avoiding Self-Obsession in the Age of the Selfie
Thought-provoking exchange about the “neoliberal self”, innate self-obsession, how this all plays out in the age of social media, and about how to find meaning and life satisfaction without striving to become a super star (or today’s equivalent, an influencer with millions of followers).
Quotation of the week:
- “The new can’t do new things in *old* ways.”
Steven Sinofsky in “History of WWW and a Caution About Prematurely Judging Fintech” (medium.learningbyshipping.com, 2)
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