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Posts Tagged ‘Wired.com’

The freedom of speech is an important democratic value, but it’s not the only one.  In the liberal tradition, free speech is usually understood as a vehicle — a necessary condition for achieving certain other societal ideals: for creating a knowledgeable public; for engendering healthy, rational, and informed debate; for holding powerful people and institutions accountable; for keeping communities lively and vibrant.  What we are seeing now is that when free speech is treated as an end and not a means, it is all too possible to thwart and distort everything it is supposed to deliver.
Creating a knowledgeable public requires at least some workable signals that distinguish truth from falsehood.  Fostering a healthy, rational, and informed debate in a mass society requires mechanisms that elevate opposing viewpoints, preferably their best versions.  To be clear, no public sphere has ever fully achieved these ideal conditions — but at least they were ideals to fail from.  Today’s engagement algorithms, by contrast, espouse no ideals about a healthy public sphere.
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The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech.
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Some scientists predict that within the next few years, the number of children struggling with obesity will surpass the number struggling with hunger.  Why?  When the human condition was marked by hunger and famine, it made perfect sense to crave condensed calories and salt.  Now we live in a food glut environment, and we have few genetic, cultural, or psychological defenses against this novel threat to our health.  Similarly, we have few defenses against these novel and potent threats to the ideals of democratic speech, even as we drown in more speech than ever.
The stakes here are not low.  In the past, it has taken generations for humans to develop political, cultural, and institutional antibodies to the novelty and upheaval of previous information revolutions.  If The Birth of a Nation and Triumph of the Will came out now, they’d flop; but both debuted when film was still in its infancy, and their innovative use of the medium helped fuel the mass revival of the Ku Klux Klan and the rise of Nazism.
By this point, we’ve already seen enough to recognize that the core business model underlying the Big Tech platforms — harvesting attention with a massive surveillance infrastructure to allow for targeted, mostly automated advertising at very large scale — is far too compatible with authoritarianism, propaganda, misinformation, and polarization.  The institutional antibodies that humanity has developed to protect against censorship and propaganda thus far — laws, journalistic codes of ethics, independent watchdogs, mass education — all evolved for a world in which choking a few gatekeepers and threatening a few individuals was an effective means to block speech.  They are no longer sufficient.
   —  Zeynep Tufekci
From his article: “It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd: February 2018
On-line at: https://www.wired.com/story/free-speech-issue-tech-turmoil-new-censorship/
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On This Day In:
2018 The Births Of Spring
2017 Drug Epidemic In America
2016 Word Up, Chuck!
2015 Sometimes I Wonder About Things
2014 Still Racing
2013 Anew
2012 Make Both
2011 Are You Happy Yet?

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Humans are a social species, equipped with few defenses against the natural world beyond our ability to acquire knowledge and stay in groups that work together.  We are particularly susceptible to glimmers of novelty, messages of affirmation and belonging, and messages of outrage toward perceived enemies.  These kinds of messages are to human community what salt, sugar, and fat are to the human appetite.  And Facebook gorges us on them — in what the company’s first president, Sean Parker, recently called “a social-­validation feedback loop.”
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Sure, it is a golden age of free speech — if you can believe your lying eyes.
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There are, moreover, no nutritional labels in this cafeteria.  For Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, all speech — whether it’s a breaking news story, a saccharine animal video, an anti-Semitic meme, or a clever advertisement for razors — is but “content,” each post just another slice of pie on the carousel.  A personal post looks almost the same as an ad, which looks very similar to a New York Times article, which has much the same visual feel as a fake newspaper created in an afternoon.
What’s more, all this online speech is no longer public in any traditional sense.  Sure, Facebook and Twitter sometimes feel like places where masses of people experience things together simultaneously.  But in reality, posts are targeted and delivered privately, screen by screen by screen.  Today’s phantom public sphere has been fragmented and submerged into billions of individual capillaries.  Yes, mass discourse has become far easier for everyone to participate in — but it has simultaneously become a set of private conversations happening behind your back.  Behind everyone’s backs.
  —  Zeynep Tufekci
From his article: “It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd: February 2018
On-line at: https://www.wired.com/story/free-speech-issue-tech-turmoil-new-censorship/
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On This Day In:
2018 Silence Presence
2017 Feeling Small Standing In Front Of My Shelves
2016 Show Willing
2015 If He Only Knew…
2014 Dared To Love
2013 Strong Kung-Fu
2012 Two Tribes
2011 Made Any Assumptions Lately?

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Yet hiring managers, VCs, and tech-focused talent agencies worship at the altar of the A-player, assuming that they need a fleet of superstars to build a great company.  And they’re willing to steal them, if necessary.  …   After all, exceptional employees aren’t just a little bit better than the average worker.  They’re 1,000 times better.  They’re more productive, more creative … more everything.  We should shower them with money and perks and do whatever it takes to keep them happy.  Right?
Wrong.  Companies are better served when they double down on cultivating in-house talent instead.  Sure, superstar workers exist.  And yes, they can be extremely productive and beneficial to a company’s bottom line.  But their stardom is frequently context-­specific, and it doesn’t always survive the transfer.  When Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg looked at the talent portability of 1,052 rock-star financial analysts, he found that about half did poorly in the year following their switch.  And those whose work suffered never recovered.
Star talent is partly innate, sure, but it’s also linked to specific teams and projects or just the culture of a company.  As Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, puts it: “People’s performance is a function not just of their individual abilities but also of the systems in which they work.”  Talent, it seems, really hates to move around.
   —  Bryan Gardiner
From the article: “Forget Stars — Companies Do Best When They Grow Their Own Talent
Appearing in Wired Magazine, dtd: July 2016
The following is a link to the original article:  http://www.wired.com/2016/07/forget-stars-companies-best-grow-talent/
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On This Day In:
2016 Looking To November
2015 It Isn’t The End
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2014 Friends
2013 Learning Bitter
2012 Remembrance, Minstrels & Going Off To War
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2011 There Is No God, But God
2010 Another Running Book…

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“For you and me, we’re making it up.  Here’s how I’m going to behave, here’s what I’m willing to do to make a living, here’s what I’m not willing to do.  How we make up our lives as we go,” Kasdan says.  “That’s such a powerful idea.  It’s exciting.  The biggest adventure you can have is making up your own life.”
   —  Lawrence Kasdan
As quoted by Adam Rogers in his article: “The Forever Franchise
Appearing in the Dec 2015 issue of Wired magazine
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On This Day In:
2015 We Are All Explorers
2014 Still Trying To Cope
2013 Dear Diary (A good chuckle!)
2012 Conveniently Sequential
2011 King’s Speech Number Four
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In addition, at least in America, science has been treated sort of cavalierly, not only by the public but also by government.  The idea that science is just some luxury that you’ll get around to if you can afford it is regressive to any future a country might dream for itself.  Innovations in science and technology are the engines of the 21st-century economy; if you care about the wealth and health of your nation tomorrow, then you’d better rethink how you allocate taxes to fund science.  The federal budget needs to recognize this.
  —  Neil DeGrasse-Tyson
Quoted by Rachel Edidin in the March 2014 Wired magazine article titled: “Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Why Cosmos Will Be Better Than Ever
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On This Day In:
2013 Weren’t You Supposed To Be Reading?
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2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
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2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

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All the while, Martino’s ultimate warning — that they might someday regret actually getting the money they wanted — would still hang over these two young men, inherent to a system designed to turn strivers into subcontractors.  Instead of what you want to build — the consumer-facing, world-remaking thing — almost invariably you are pushed to build a small piece of technology that somebody with a lot of money wants built cheaply.  As the engineer and writer Alex Payne put it, these startups represent “the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions,” doing low-overhead, low-risk R&D for five corporate giants.  In such a system, the real disillusionment isn’t the discovery that you’re unlikely to become a billionaire; it’s the realization that your feeling of autonomy is a fantasy, and that the vast majority of you have been set up to fail by design.
  —  Gideon Lewis-Kraus
From his article in Wired magazine May 2014, titled: “No Exit: One Startup’s Struggle to Survive the Silicon Valley Gold Rush
[Emphasis is mine. — KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 I Do Not Fear It
2012 Until Found
2011 Reducing Goods To Data
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While I was on the space station, I used Twitter to ask hundreds of thousands of people what they would like me to take a picture of.  Resoundingly, the answer was “home.”  Everyone, from all around the world, wanted to see their hometowns.  I found that thought-provoking.  After millennia of wandering and settling, we are still most curious about how we fit in and how our community looks in the context of the rest of the world.  A curiosity of self-­awareness, now answerable by technology.
This is where the answers to our problems will start.  ­People across the planet need to see and internalize an accurate global vision of place and individual account­ability — to recognize the problems that face us all and the technologies that exist to combat them.  Our young ­people need to be able to look up, to look beyond the horizons of their forebears, and see the wisdom and opportunity that comes from a more universal sense of responsibility.
The International Space Station is a phenomenal laboratory, an unparalleled test bed for new invention and discovery.  Yet I often thought, while silently gazing out the window at Earth, that the actual legacy of humanity’s attempts to step into space will be a better understanding of our current planet and how to take care of it.
It is not a perfect world, but it is ours.  Sometimes you have to leave home to truly see it.
 —  Chris Hadfield
From an article: “We Should Treat Earth as Kindly as We Treat Spacecraft
The on-line version of the article is at: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/11/chris-hadfield-wired/
In the December 2013 issue of Wired magazine:  http://www.wired.com/
[I have subscribed to “Wired” for over a decade.  It is well worth the money for anyone who fancies himself (or herself) a futurist!  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 Precious Friend
2012 It Couldn’t Be Done
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