Design Thinking is Kind of Like Syphilis — It’s Contagious and Rots Your Brains
As the designer Natasha Jen explains, Design Thinking can be traced back to foundational thinkers like the polymath Herbert Simon and the designer Robert McKim. The architect and urban designer Peter Rowe, who eventually became the dean of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, was one of the first people to popularize the term in his 1987 book, Design Thinking.
The notion of Design Thinking is often centrally associated with the fabled design and consulting firm, IDEO, most famous for crafting nifty consumer electronics, like Apple’s first mouse and the look of the Palm V personal digital assistant. But in recent years, it is individuals at Stanford University’s design school — or d.school (their asinine punctuation and capitalization, not mine) — who’ve been pushing and selling Design Thinking. IDEO will charge you $399 for a self-paced, video-based Design Thinking course, “Insights for Innovation.” Or you can pay Stanford $12,600 for a 4-day “Design Thinking Bootcamp” called “From Insights to Innovation.”
design_thinking  design  innovation  snark 
Driverless Cars: On A Road to Nowhere | The London Publishing Partnership
We are nowhere near this driverless utopia. Indeed it may prove to be impossible to reach. And even if it were achievable, does anyone want it? Far from reducing traffic and pollution, millions of zombie cars on the roads would make them worse.

Wolmar looks at the technical and other difficulties that make this driverless future a very uncertain proposition. He finds that it is the tech companies and the auto manufacturers who are desperate to get us out of the driving seat, and argues that far from making the  roads safer, driverless cars may well make them more dangerous.
future  ai 
2 days ago
Perhaps someone with more stature than Banfield could have gotten away with that speech and maybe it might have even been taken seriously, who knows? But the object lesson could not have been missed by any of the ambitious up and comers in the news business. If a TV journalist publicly spoke the truth anywhere about war, the news, even their competitors --- and Banfield spoke the truth in that speech --- their career was dead in the water. Even the girl hero of 9/11 (maybe especially the girl hero of 9/11) could not get away with breaking the CW code of omerta and she had to pay.
2 days ago
Facebook harmed America and is ‘living, breathing crime scene’ over 2016 U.S. election, insiders say
Facebook harmed America and is ‘living, breathing crime scene’ over 2016 U.S. election, insiders say
2 days ago
Facebook’s Hate Speech Policies Censor Marginalized Users | WIRED
Two individuals wrote that they were reported for posting about the return of graphic novelist Alison Bechdel’s celebrated Dykes To Watch Out For comic strip.
censorship  halal_internet  FoE 
6 days ago
Suspending Alt-Right Twitter Accounts Doesn't Fix Anything - The Atlantic
What Twitter is saying is that some and only some speech will be policed, by standards that can only be guessed at in advance.

That’s socially undesirable for a lot of reasons, but consider just this one: It’s precisely the perception of arbitrary and one-sided speech policing that drives so many young men toward radical, illiberal politics. On campus especially, but also in the corporate world—and now on social media—they perceive that wild and wacky things can be said by some people, but not by others.
censorship  FoE  halal_internet 
6 days ago
Are There Limits to Online Free Speech ? – Data & Society: Points
When technologists defend free speech above all other values, they play directly into the hands of white nationalists. (This piece is so wrong ... boggles the mind).
censorship  FoE  halal_internet 
6 days ago
War Imagery, Media, and the Internet
Today, I participated in a workshop at UC Berkeley of around 15-20 people that sought to develop a model policy for moving image archives that are preserving and publicly hosting incidental war footage from Iraq and other sites of armed conflicts. Many archives and web sites are being asked to evaluate the removal of violent images and videos that might be considered shocking, and new iterations of old questions about rights, censorship and access are being forged. The conference was motivated by concerns attendant at the Internet Archive, earnestly grappling with these issues.
censorship  halal_internet  ethics  FoE 
6 days ago
What scientists want: Robert Boyle’s to-do list | Royal Society
The Prolongation of Life.
The Recovery of Youth, or at least some of the Marks of it, as new Teeth, new Hair colour’d as in youth.
The Art of Flying.
The Art of Continuing long under water, and exercising functions freely there.
The Cure of Wounds at a Distance.
The Cure of Diseases at a distance or at least by Transplantation.
The Attaining Gigantick Dimensions....
future  paleofuture 
7 days ago
The human solution to Facebook's machine-produced problems also won't work
"Facebook’s fundamental problem is not foreign interference, spam bots, trolls, or fame mongers. It’s the company’s core business model, and abandoning it is not an option."
9 days ago
Francis Crick - James Watson - Nobel Prizes - Science - Technology - The New York Times
“With my own advancing years, I’m mindful of the three different ways scientists can grow old,” Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal of the United Kingdom and president of the Royal Society, wrote in an e-mail message. The first two choices are either to become an administrator or to content yourself with doing science that will probably be mediocre. (“In contrast to composers,” Dr. Rees observed, “there are few scientists whose last works are their greatest.”) The third choice is to strike off half-cocked into unfamiliar territory — and quickly get in over your head. “All too many examples of this!” he lamented.
science  scientism 
9 days ago
This Israeli Presentation on How to Make Drone Strikes More “Efficient” Disturbed Its Audience
he presenter of the drone material, Yuval Zak, told the Intercept he was surprised by the audience reaction and hostile questioning after his presentation. (*Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down..)
drones  ethics  responsible_innovation 
10 days ago
Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments
As is always true of censorship, there is one, and only one, principle driving all of this: power. Facebook will submit to and obey the censorship demands of governments and officials who actually wield power over it, while ignoring those who do not.
censorship  facebook  FoE 
15 days ago
We’re ripping off some of the best musicians of the last century. It needs to stop. - The Washington Post
A bipartisan new bill called the Classics Act is moving quickly through Congress. The bill would require digital radio to treat all music the same, regardless of when it was recorded, ensuring that the same royalties are paid for older songs as for new material. It would open a world-changing lifeline for musicians from back in the day — bringing basic economic fairness to this key corner of the music world.
15 days ago
Like start-ups, most intentional communities fail – why? | Aeon Essays
having a visionary founder as a figurehead is almost always an essential ingredient of success – someone who carves out a coherent vision, empowers organisational ability among others, and acts as a publicist and propagandist of a company (or community) to the outside world. Over time, a founder’s role can be disassembled and distributed, but in the beginning it’s critical, keeping a community focused on what’s important, while overcoming a lot of the pettiness that can creep into everyday life.
15 days ago
Workflow Strategy for Those Left Behind: Strategic Options - The Scholarly Kitchen
The development of an entirely new class of products, those that support research workflow for the sciences, has the potential to disrupt many publishers’ relationships with their authors, as I described in yesterday’s piece. Today, I want to examine the vital question facing all scholarly publishers other than Elsevier to one degree or another: As workflow providers build deeper relationships with scientists earlier in the research lifecycle, how are publishers to maintain sufficiently strong relationships with authors?
archives  workflow  publishing 
19 days ago
The British elite is at war with itself – on a scale we’ve never seen before | Paul Mason | Opinion | The Guardian
Two generations of lawyers, bankers, accountants and corporate managers had become so moulded to the Lisbon treaty, the European court of justice and the commission that even now, 18 months after the referendum, some are struggling to get beyond the denial stage.
4 weeks ago
Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society - The Verge
Another former Facebook executive has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society around the world. Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make.
remorse  responsible_innovation  ethics  facebook 
5 weeks ago
The Consent of the (Un)governed
Yes, I’m talking about neoliberalism here, and it’s important that we use that word correctly, because if we don’t, we won’t understand how it slips into outright tyranny. Neoliberalism, quite simply, describes a way of organizing society — from politics to culture and commerce — whereby the needs of the market and the worship of private profit take precedence over everything else. Where nothing is more important than what can be sold, and for how much. Where every human urge is channeled towards greater productivity, and most of us spend most of our time working ourselves to the raw nerves for someone else’s profit. But neoliberalism, like every form of capitalism, is not just about controlling what people do, it is about controlling how they feel — in particular, how they feel about capitalism.
6 weeks ago
DSHR's Blog: International Digital Preservation Day
David Minor's What we’ve done well, and some things we still need to figure out ends with a point I've made repeatedly:
Funding. Yes. Of course. Funding. Funding funding funding. This is the largest single mountain we still have to climb. Digital preservation, done correctly, is expensive. It just is. And it’s not a problem that technology is going to solve. Or some new whiz bang economic theory that makes sense to twelve special people. It’s only going to cease being a problem when the people who care about their precious bits fully understand why it’s expensive, and make the commitment to support it. This is the ur-issue for our field, and has been since the beginning.
6 weeks ago
Renowned Writer Paul Theroux Critiques Philanthropy in Africa - Barron's
The desire of distant outsiders to fix Africa may be heartfelt, but it is also age-old and even quaint. Curiously repetitive in nature, renewed and revised every decade or so, it is an impulse Charles Dickens described, in a wickedly accurate phrase, as "telescopic philanthropy." That is, a focus from afar to uplift the continent: New York squinting compassionately at Nairobi.

Never have so many people, so many agencies, so many stratagems, so much money been deployed to improve Africa -- and yet the majority of the movers are part-timers, merely dropping in, setting up a scheme in the much-mocked "the-safari-that-does-good" manner, then returning to their real lives, as hard-charging businessmen, Hollywood actors, benevolent billionaires, atoning ex-politicians, MacArthur geniuses, or rock stars in funny hats. It's not hard to imagine the future tombstones of the Clintons and Bono and Gates, and many others bitten by the eleemosynary itch, chiseled with the words, Telescopic Philanthropist.
6 weeks ago
$500 Million From Superwealthy Will Promote Results-Driven Philanthropy - The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Bill and Melinda Gates, Jeff Skoll, and several other superwealthy philanthropists are pooling at least a half-billion dollars to upend social systems that trap people in poverty and contribute to poor health. They said they plan to concentrate on a few causes they believe can make a difference and make pledges that will last at least five years. To take part in the newly formed Co-Impact, donors must contribute at least $25 million. Richard Chandler, Romesh and Kathy Wadhwani, and the Rockefeller Foundation joined with the Gateses and Mr. Skoll as founding donors of the global effort.

Rockefeller will also provide additional support to run the group’s London and New York offices and pay the salaries of at least 10 employees. In addition, the Indian entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani and his wife, Rohini, co-founders of the EkStep Foundation, will support the effort’s technology needs.
9 weeks ago
TPW’s “Going Beyond Giving” Report
TPW's Report, “Going Beyond Giving: Perspectives on the philanthropic practices of high and ultra-high net worth donors," seeks to better understand high and ultra-high net worth philanthropists' motivations, actions, and practices. It is the first study to include a sample of TPW's 450+ member philanthropists, the largest global network of its kind and unique to philanthropy.  The study was created with support from the Raikes Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
9 weeks ago
Forming a Picture of the New Philanthropist - NYTimes.com
The Philanthropy Workshop, an educational and networking organization, undertook a yearlong study to determine what a high-net-worth philanthropist looks like. Its report, to be released on Tuesday, is called “Going Beyond Giving: Perspectives on the Philanthropic Practices of High and Ultra-High Net Worth Donors.” The data the group collected is robust, but what it really revealed was how hard it is to put such a diverse group into easily understandable boxes.
9 weeks ago
Four ethical priorities for neurotechnologies and AI : Nature News & Comment
It might take years or even decades until BCI and other neurotechnologies are part of our daily lives. But technological developments mean that we are on a path to a world in which it will be possible to decode people's mental processes and directly manipulate the brain mechanisms underlying their intentions, emotions and decisions; where individuals could communicate with others simply by thinking; and where powerful computational systems linked directly to people's brains aid their interactions with the world such that their mental and physical abilities are greatly enhanced.

Such advances could revolutionize the treatment of many conditions, from brain injury and paralysis to epilepsy and schizophrenia, and transform human experience for the better. But the technology could also exacerbate social inequalities and offer corporations, hackers, governments or anyone else new ways to exploit and manipulate people. And it could profoundly alter some core human characteristics: private mental life, individual agency and an understanding of individuals as entities bound by their bodies.
ethics  responsible_innovation  AI 
9 weeks ago
Leading Western Publisher Bows to Chinese Censorship - NYTimes.com
BEIJING — One of the world’s largest academic publishers was criticized on Wednesday for bowing to pressure from the Chinese government to block access to hundreds of articles on its Chinese website.

Springer Nature, whose publications include Nature and Scientific American, acknowledged that at the government’s request, it had removed articles from its mainland site that touch on topics the ruling Communist Party considers sensitive, including Taiwan, Tibet, human rights and elite politics.
9 weeks ago
DSHR's Blog: Keynote at Pacific Neighborhood Consortium
I wish I could end this talk on an optimistic note, but I can't. The information the future will need about the world of today is on the Web. Our ability to collect and preserve it has been both inadequate and decreasing. This is primarily due to massive under-funding. A few tens of millions of dollars per year worldwide set against the trillions of dollars per year of revenue the Web generates. There is no realistic prospect of massively increasing the funding for Web archiving. The funding for the world's memory institutions, whose job it is to remember the past, has been under sustained attack for many years.

The largest component of the cost of Web archiving is the initial collection. The evolution of the Web from a set of static, hyper-linked documents to a JavaScript programming environment has been steadily raising the difficulty and thus cost of collecting the typical Web page. The increasingly dynamic nature of the resulting Web content means that each individual visit is less and less representative of "the page". What does it mean to "preserve" something that is different every time you look at it?

And now, with the advent of Web DRM, our likely future is one in which it is not simply increasingly difficult, expensive%2
10 weeks ago
YouTube and Facebook Are Removing Evidence of Atrocities, Jeopardizing Cases Against War Criminals
The takedowns, and the murky processes that led to them, represent a dramatic shift from the heady days of the Arab Spring, when protesters posted images of their governments firing on them, and social media chiefs promoted their platforms as nearly limitless tools for reform. “Anyone with a mobile handset and access to the Internet will be able to play a part in promoting accountability,” Google Executive Chair Eric Schmidt wrote in his 2013 book, “The New Digital Age.”  Around the same time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared, in a 10-page paper about wiring the world for internet: “I believe connectivity is a human right.”

“They could have said: ‘Don’t use your platforms for this,’” said Alexa Koenig, executive director at the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley. “But they actually tried to get these people use their platforms [for it] — they held themselves up as arbiters of social good, and at that point of creating dependency, I would argue they acquired a heightened responsibility.”

“They had grandiose ideas,” added Keith Hiatt, a former software engineer turned human rights activist who’s served as a sort of intermediary for the tech industry and the human rights community. He is now vice president of Human Rights Programs at the NGO, Benetech, and serves on the Technology Advisory Board for the ICC, a group of experts trying to bridge the gap between investigators and technology.
censorship  facebook 
10 weeks ago
I started Occupy Wall Street. Russia tried to co-opt me | Micah White | Opinion | The Guardian
We are witnessing the advent of social movement warfare: the deployment of social protest as an effective alternative to conventional military conflict.
politics  propaganda 
11 weeks ago
What Is Philanthropy Doing to Challenge the Power of Tech Giants? What Can It Do?
What Is Philanthropy Doing to Challenge the Power of Tech Giants? What Can It Do?
philanthropy  technology&society 
12 weeks ago
For-good investor Zinc.vc launches in London to solve world’s biggest problems
For-good investor Zinc.vc launches in London to solve world’s biggest problems
october 2017
UberResearch – Dimensions for Funders
With a global award database covering around 200 funders and over $900bn in historical awards, users can compare internal funding applications against the global funding landscape instantly. Dimensions will identify similar research based on a search or automatically display similar grants to the proposal you are evaluating – including which institutions were funded, which investigators received the awards and what the currently running projects are in this area.
september 2017
OnPAR Funding for Scored But Not Awarded NIH Proposals – Research Funding
OnPAR (Online Partnership to Accelerate Research).  This was launched by Leidos Life Sciences in March, 2016.  It is a partnership with NIH that offers a new paradigm to provide funding for highly scored but unfunded NIH applications by matching them with interested non-government organizations (NGOs). 
september 2017
HKW | 100 Years of Now
In its four-year project 100 Years of Now, HKW is undertaking an analysis of the present time by linking back to historical utopias.
september 2017
Non Profit News For Nonprofit Organizations | Nonprofit Quarterly - Nonprofit Quarterly delivers the latest news and investigative reports for non profit organizations. Subscribe to our free newsletter!
“Tell us what problems $100 million can solve, and how.” Thus began an experimental grantmaking process launched by the MacArthur Foundation in response to, as the author writes, “criticism that the philanthropic sector is too insular, not sufficiently focused on impact, and too risk averse.” This article gives an insider overview of the experiment and its results, and offers lessons learned along the way in anticipation of the final announcement of the successful awardee.
philanthropy  100c 
september 2017
Prologue to 'The Complete Plain Words' by Sir Ernest Gowers (1954)
Writing is an instrument for conveying ideas from one mind to another; the writer's job is to make his reader apprehend his meaning readily and precisely.
september 2017
About Us - Giving Compass
giving compass is a nonprofit organizing the world’s information to make it easier to give well
How can we give better? There is no single answer as there are many ways to define impact.
But we believe that if we have a good compass for our journey, we take the time to do some comparative research and learning, and we join with others who share our interests, we can drive positive and meaningful change.
september 2017
We are a nonprofit philanthropic advisory firm that designs transformative giving solutions at the local, national and global level. We pioneered the field of strategic philanthropic advising to help you achieve lasting impact.
september 2017
Peace: Neither Ink nor Blood – INCERTO – Medium
One of the problems of the interventionista –wanting to get involved in other people’s affairs “in order to help”, while genuinely wanting to do good, results in disrupting some of the peace-making mechanisms that are inherent in human’s affairs
september 2017
Democrats are losing the propaganda war
Verrit! The reductio of every smug tendency that fuels the center-left, brought to you by the digital sensibilities of a fifty year old who believes he can sneak into a Silicon Valley break room if he can just find the right hoodie.
september 2017
Total Quality Revolution | Emmett Rensin
I suppose I find the consulting groups funny because they look so much like a caricature of my uncertainty. They read like vultures who know that the game’s already up and that we’re in garbage time, and who are just grabbing whatever cash they can while the planet spins out in the darkness. I hope that’s what they’re doing, actually. The alternative is that they’re earnest hucksters
september 2017
Responsible technology: PwC UK
...technological advances could have unintended consequences, accelerating risks to the Earth and society if they are not designed and scaled in a smart and sustainable way.
september 2017
Nobel-winning economist Robert Shiller says bitcoin is "the best example right now" of a speculative bubble — Quartz
What are the best examples now of irrational exuberance or speculative bubbles?
Shiller: The best example right now is bitcoin. And I think that has to do with the motivating quality of the bitcoin story. And I’ve seen it in my students at Yale. You start talking about bitcoin and they’re excited! And I think, what’s so exciting? You have to think like humanities people. What is this bitcoin story?
bitcoin  economics 
september 2017
The Hard Consequence of Google's Soft Power Over Think Tanks | WIRED
AMONG ITS PEERS, Google is an unparalleled lobbyist. Between April and June of this year, Google spent $5.4 million lobbying the federal government, more than double the lobbying budget for Apple, a comparable global behemoth that also has to fend off regulatory scrutiny. The tech giant has also long funded a lengthy roster of think tanks, academics, and nonprofits that grapple with issues that could seriously impact Google’s bottom line, such as privacy, net neutrality, and tax reform.
google  think_tanks 
september 2017
New Think Tank Emails Show “How Google Wields its Power” in Washington
There is certainly a he said/she said element to these emails. Slaughter thinks Lynn wasn’t sensitive enough to giving notice internally about his team’s practices; Lynn thinks that the content of his work, not the communication of it, was the problem. Without more context it’s hard to say much definitively. But the additional emails from Lynn do not show someone dismissive of his colleagues or the tricky situation at New America. And though Slaughter protests that Google’s influence played no role in the firing, New America’s funding from the tech giant hangs over the entire set of exchanges.
google  FoE 
september 2017
Deep-Fried Data
It takes courage to ask for a grant to bring a collection online with no measurable outcome other than the hope that it attracts interesting use. It takes even more courage to award that grant.
libraries  archives  philanthropy 
august 2017
Future of Humanity Institute
FHI is a multidisciplinary research institute at the University of Oxford. Academics at FHI bring the tools of mathematics, philosophy and social sciences to bear on big-picture questions about humanity and its prospects. The Institute is led by Founding Director Professor Nick Bostrom.
future  philanthropy 
august 2017
The Global Priorities Project | Prioritisation and policy research
Every day governments, foundations, and individuals need to make hard choices about what to prioritise. Limited resources must be wisely split between worthwhile causes. But prioritising requires sophisticated methods, especially when it involves uncertainty, ambiguity, and many different contexts.
august 2017
Transgender YouTubers had their videos grabbed to train facial recognition software - The Verge
There is pushback in some instances (like when a researcher scraped 40,000 selfies from Tinder without permission and posted the dataset online), but in the debate about what is the right and the wrong way to go about acquiring data, the loudest voices are those of big companies. This leads to situations like in the UK, where Google’s AI subsidiary DeepMind made an illegal deal to access medical records belonging to 1.6 million individuals.
AI  ethics 
august 2017
The Decentralized Web
E Zuckerman on the decentralized web.
decentralization  publishing  culture 
august 2017
Restoring eyesight: a simple solution with huge consequences - Capital Research Center
Finally, the Himalayan Cataract Project is a semi-finalist for a new program of the MacArthur Foundation where they hold a contest where one lucky winner gets a $100 million grant. Some of the project’s competitors seem like good programs to me. Rice University, for example, wants to improve neonatal care in the Third World. HarvestPlus has a program for adding vitamins to rice, wheat, and other staple crops.

Then there’s a program that seems to me to be completely daft. Suppose you’re a refugee. What do you need? Food? Shelter? Clothes? Well, the International Rescue Committee and Sesame Workshop think what refugees need is…TV, sorry, “multimedia content.” The TV these two organizations think kids need is the Muppets, or “the trusted and recognized Sesame Street Muppets.”

I confess that part of me hopes that the Muppets win this competition because the MacArthur Foundation would be subject to a barrage of healthy and sustained laughter. But given the babies that could be protected or the eyes saved with MacArthur money, I hope the foundation does the right thing and give their $100 million to a charity that would do something useful with it.
august 2017
Prizes and Competitions – Mission Innovation
Mission Innovation member countries and private-sector groups offer a number of prizes and competitions designed to generate new ideas, support entrepreneurship, and create incentives to spur clean energy innovation. Links to some of these prizes are shown below.
prizes  challenges  competitions 
august 2017
Impact of Social Sciences – Addicted to the brand: The hypocrisy of a publishing academic
Academics generally recognise that the scholarly publishing business model is flawed, the impact factor does not point to quality, and open access is a good idea. And yet, academics continue to submit their work to the same for-profit journals. Philip Moriarty looks at what is keeping academics from practicing what they preach. Despite many efforts to counter the perception, journal ‘branding’ remains exceptionally important.
open_access  publishing 
august 2017
World's Largest Annual Humanitarian Prize Will Be Awarded in Los Angeles · Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
(Los Angeles) July 19, 2017 – “The Future of Humanitarian Action: Bridging Our Divides,” will be the theme of this year’s Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Humanitarian Symposium and accompanying Prize Ceremony. The Foundation announced today that its annual event will be held in Los Angeles this year at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, October 11, 2017.
prizes  challenges  competitions 
august 2017
America’s foundations spend many millions of dollars every year on investment advice. In return, they get sub-par performance.
philanthropy  sins 
august 2017
Learning to Bridge a Generation Gap in Philanthropy - The New York Times
There are a lot of dollars at stake. A 2014 report by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College estimated that $59 trillion would be transferred to the next generation from 2007 to 2061. Lifetime giving to charity in that same period is pegged at $20.6 trillion.

It used to be that the philanthropic baton would be passed to the next generation when the parents died. In the past, fewer generations actively worked together.

But with longer life spans, “there are several generations in the philanthropic space at the same time and around the table at the same time,” said Sharna Goldseker, the founder and managing director of 21/64, a consulting firm that focuses on next-generation philanthropy. There may well be agreement among the generations about the importance of giving, but also disagreement about who to give to and how to give it.
august 2017
Is the world really better than ever? | News | The Guardian
The loose but growing collection of pundits, academics and thinktank operatives who endorse this stubbornly cheerful, handbasket-free account of our situation have occasionally been labelled “the New Optimists”, a name intended to evoke the rebellious scepticism of the New Atheists led by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris. And from their perspective, our prevailing mood of despair is irrational, and frankly a bit self-indulgent. They argue that it says more about us than it does about how things really are – illustrating a certain tendency toward collective self-flagellation, and an unwillingness to believe in the power of human ingenuity. And that it is best explained as the result of various psychological biases that served a purpose on the prehistoric savannah – but now, in a media-saturated era, constantly mislead us.
eutopia  optimism  worldgame 
july 2017
We Need More, Not Fewer, Collaborations With Tech Companies - The Chronicle of Higher Education
cademic circles are stirred up over a recent Wall Street Journal article that accused scholars of taking Google’s money to study technology’s impact on society. In researching the story, reporters relied on a source’s database that amassed a list (probably using Google) of papers, workshops, and centers that purportedly had Google’s financial backing. The point was to prove that Google-backed professors seeded regulatory debates with studies to shore up the tech giant’s business interests.


Scholars Cry Foul at Their Inclusion on List of Academics Paid by Google
The database is rife with errors and tenuous links. For example, it lists people who never received a dime from Google and names graduate students who attended tech conferences co-sponsored by Google, a frequent sponsor of academic technology events, because the attendees published papers about tech and society a few years later. The article’s "Gotcha!" angle suggests that private technology support for university research is a problem that must be rooted out. It suggests that money will inevitably produce conflicts of interest and pave the way for tech companies to bamboozle the public.
july 2017
A Son’s Race to Give His Dying Father Artificial Immortality | WIRED
I dream of creating a Dadbot—a chatbot that emulates not a children’s toy but the very real man who is my father. And I have already begun gathering the raw material: those 91,970 words that are destined for my bookshelf.
The thought feels impossible to ignore, even as it grows beyond what is plausible or even advisable. Right around this time I come across an article online, which, if I were more superstitious, would strike me as a coded message from forces unseen. The article is about a curious project conducted by two researchers at Google. The researchers feed 26 million lines of movie dialog into a neural network and then build a chatbot that can draw from that corpus of human speech using probabilistic machine logic. The researchers then test the bot with a bunch of big philosophical questions.
july 2017
How I lost my 25-year battle against corporate claptrap
For nearly a quarter of a century, I have been writing columns telling business people to stop talking rot. For the same amount of time they have been taking no notice.
plain_english  jarg 
july 2017
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