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Posts Tagged ‘Wired.com’

Perhaps the most telling email is a message from a then executive named Sam Lessin to Zuckerberg that epitomizes Facebook’s penchant for self-justification.  The company, Lessin wrote, could be ruthless and committed to social good at the same time, because they are essentially the same thing:  “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected and the only way we can do that is with the best people and the best infrastructure, which requires that we make a lot of money / be very profitable.”
The message also highlighted another of the company’s original sins: its assertion that if you just give people better tools for sharing, the world will be a better place.  That’s just false.  Sometimes Facebook makes the world more open and connected; sometimes it makes it more closed and disaffected.  Despots and demagogues have proven to be just as adept at using Facebook as democrats and dreamers.  Like the communications innovations before it — the printing press, the telephone, the internet itself — Facebook is a revolutionary tool.  But human nature has stayed the same.
  —  Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein
From their article: “15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd: May 2019
Online at: https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-15-months-of-fresh-hell/
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On This Day In:
2019 Sometimes Too Subtle
2018 A Lot Like Teaching
2017 Wake Up
2016 I Like Dreaming
2015 Importance
2014 Unearned Humility
2013 Science Is Trial And Error
2012 Franklin’s Creed
2011 First Steps
2010 Home Ill…

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The emergence of the mirrorworld will affect us all at a deeply personal level.  We know there will be severe physiological and psychological effects of dwelling in dual worlds; we’ve already learned that from our experience living in cyberspace and virtual realities.  But we don’t know what these effects will be, much less how to prepare for them or avoid them.  We don’t even know the exact cognitive mechanism that makes the illusion of AR work in the first place.  [“AR” = Augmented Reality  —  KMAB]
The great paradox is that the only way to understand how AR works is to build AR and test ourselves in it.  It’s weirdly recursive: The technology itself is the microscope needed to inspect the effects of the technology.
Some people get very upset with the idea that new technologies will create new harms and that we willingly surrender ourselves to these risks when we could adopt the precautionary principle: Don’t permit the new unless it is proven safe.  But that principle is unworkable, because the old technologies we are in the process of replacing are even less safe.  More than 1 million humans die on the roads each year, but we clamp down on robot drivers when they kill one person.  We freak out over the unsavory influence of social media on our politics, while TV’s partisan influence on elections is far, far greater than Facebook’s.  The mirrorworld will certainly be subject to this double standard of stricter norms.
I imagine it will take at least a decade for the mirrorworld to develop enough to be used by millions, and several decades to mature.  But we are close enough now to the birth of this great work that we can predict its character in rough detail.
Eventually this melded world will be the size of our planet.  It will be humanity’s greatest achievement, creating new levels of wealth, new social problems, and uncountable opportunities for billions of people.  There are no experts yet to make this world; you are not late.
  —  Kevin Kelly
From his article:  “Welcome To Mirrorworld
Appearing in Wired Magazine; dtd:  March 2019
The article also appears online at:  https://www.wired.com/story/mirrorworld-ar-next-big-tech-platform/
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On This Day In:
2019 Too Difficult To Try
2018 Hold Fast
2017 The Only Real Security
2016 Time Said
2015 If Only Common Sense Were More Common
2014 PTI
2013 What Now, Then?
2012 Big C, Little B
Duty, Honor, Country

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Why do techies insist that things should be sped up, torqued, optimized?
There’s one obvious reason, of course:  They do it because of the dictates of the market.  Capitalism handsomely rewards anyone who can improve a process and squeeze some margin out.  But with software, there’s something else going on too.  For coders, efficiency is more than just a tool for business.  It’s an existential state, an emotional driver.
Coders might have different backgrounds and political opinions, but nearly every one I’ve ever met found deep, almost soulful pleasure in taking something inefficient — even just a little bit slow — and tightening it up a notch.  Removing the friction from a system is an aesthetic joy; coders’ eyes blaze when they talk about making something run faster or how they eliminated some bothersome human effort from a process.
  —  Clive Thompson
From his article:  “Efficiency Is Beautiful
In Wired Magazine, dtd: April 2019
Also online at:  https://www.wired.com/story/coders-efficiency-is-beautiful/
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On This Day In:
2018 Cursive In The News
2017 Coffee Crunch
2016 Preparation
2015 Scarcely Asked
2014 They Resemble Us
2013 Both
2012 That’s Success!
2011 Losing At Dominos
2010 1,001

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The Enlightenment sought to establish reason as the foundational pillar of civilized discourse.  In this conception, logical argument matters, and the truth of a statement is tested by examination of values, assumptions, and facts, not by how many people believe it.  Cyber-enabled information warfare threatens to replace these pillars of logic and truth with fantasy and rage.
  —  Herbert Lin
As quoted by: Virginia Heffernan
In her article: “Clock Watchers: The Beautiful Benefits of Contemplating Doom
In Wired Magazine, dtd: Apr 2019
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On This Day In:
2018 Seven Minutes. Not Six, Not Eight
2017 Falling Forward One Step At A Time
2016 And Without Expectation
2015 Just Do It
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2014 Some Things I Learned (Mostly) In The Army:
2013 Who You Are
2012 Mine Stands
2011 Aversions

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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 her 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 her 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
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2015 If He Only Knew…
2014 Dared To Love
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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:
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2011 There Is No God, But God
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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:
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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
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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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We love these stories because they are about people who find something within themselves that even they didn’t know was there.  That discovery gives them the power to defeat the most overwhelming enemies and situations — and because it comes from inside, this power can never be taken away.  We all need, in big ways and small, to believe that if we dig deep enough we can find the confidence, the abilities, the self-possession to defeat whatever dark powers life arrays against us.  We root for the hero because we root for ourselves.
  —    Robert Capps
[This quote is from the article “74 Things Every Great Star Wars Movie Needs” in the Feb. 2013 issue of Wired Magazine.  The link to the article is: http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/02/ff-star-wars-is-back/
The interesting thing (to me anyway) is that in the article this is number “9”, but on the web, it’s number “13”.  I guess there was some subtle change in universal existence between the hardcopy and the virtual world.  On second thought, maybe it’s a bit prophetic as I’ve been a subscriber for 13 years now… since 2000.  If you’ve never checked it out, the magazine is highly recommended.  —  KMAB]
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