alexpriest + tech   113

12 Things Everyone Should Understand About Tech – Humane Tech – Medium
Whoosh. Lots in here.

"One of the most important things everybody should know about the apps and services they use is that the values of technology creators are deeply ingrained in every button, every link, and every glowing icon that we see. Choices that software developers make about design, technical architecture or business model can have profound impacts on our privacy, security and even civil rights as users. When software encourages us to take photos that are square instead of rectangular, or to put an always-on microphone in our living rooms, or to be reachable by our bosses at any moment, it changes our behaviors, and it changes our lives."
tech  ethics  technology  business  silicon_valley  corporate_social_responsibility  corporate_culture 
7 weeks ago by alexpriest
Why humans learn faster than AI—for now - MIT Technology Review
"So what makes humans so much better? It turns out that we do not approach this game with a blank slate. A human will see that he or she has control over the robot, and that the robot should avoid fire, climb ladders, jump over gaps, and avoid a frowning enemy to reach the princess. All this is thanks to prior knowledge that certain objects are good while others (with frowns or flames) are bad, that platforms support objects while ladders can be climbed, that things that look the same behave in the same way, that gravity pulls objects down, and even what “objects” are: things that are separate from other things and have different properties.

By contrast, a machine knows none of this."
ai  tech  games  video_games 
9 weeks ago by alexpriest
Bitcoin Is Ridiculous. Blockchain Is Dangerous: Paul Ford - Bloomberg
"Companies like Project Spokane mine bitcoin using computer processors, which work feverishly to solve cryptographic puzzles. Solving those puzzles helps verify transactions on the blockchain — the decentralized network that powers cryptocurrencies — and the reward is a fractional amount of the currency. Bitcoin’s design is such that there’s a finite amount of coins to be mined: 21 million, of which about 80% had been mined by January. As more coins are generated, the puzzle-solving process requires more computing power, which means more time, electricity, and money. Bitcoin mining is, quite literally, a race, and the way to win is to amass more continuously running mining rigs than your competitors."

###

"That all of this adds up to money is ridiculous, and we should probably mock it more than we do. Consider Bitcoin a grand middle finger. It’s a prank, almost a parody of the global financial system, that turned into a bubble. “You plutocrats of Davos may think you control the global money supply,” the pranksters seem to say. “But humans will make an economy out of anything. Even this!” To be frank, central banking never really ground my gears; it’s just another one of those vast enterprises that we cower beneath, like network TV or religion. But I can see how it would piss people off. Bits gonna coin."

###

"America understands new abstractions by financializing them. It’s how our culture absorbs information. Taxicabs, spare bedrooms, public education—we see markets everywhere. Bitcoin and the blockchain came prefinancialized, intended as a replacement for central banking. But what if the most important thing the blockchain offers isn’t a replacement for money but a new way to build culture?"
bitcoin  blockchain  capitalism  tech  money  wealth 
9 weeks ago by alexpriest
The Mountain West Is Experiencing A Second Gold Rush. This Time They’re Mining Bitcoin.
"Companies like Project Spokane mine bitcoin using computer processors, which work feverishly to solve cryptographic puzzles. Solving those puzzles helps verify transactions on the blockchain — the decentralized network that powers cryptocurrencies — and the reward is a fractional amount of the currency. Bitcoin’s design is such that there’s a finite amount of coins to be mined: 21 million, of which about 80% had been mined by January. As more coins are generated, the puzzle-solving process requires more computing power, which means more time, electricity, and money. Bitcoin mining is, quite literally, a race, and the way to win is to amass more continuously running mining rigs than your competitors."
bitcoin  blockchain  tech  mining  wealth  money 
9 weeks ago by alexpriest
Good vs. Better at Bad
Really good points. Changed my perspective on the HomePod (but I’m still not buying one).
music  speakers  apple  ai  echo  amazon  voice  tech  homepod 
10 weeks ago by alexpriest
Master the Art of Influence — Persuasion as a Skill and Habit | First Round Review
This is quite good.

“You’re not going to be successful if people you talk to don’t get it. Don’t stop developing new ways to explain it until they do.”

###

“If I initially throw out a valuation of $10M, but then I want to move it to $15M, I have to basically convince you that it’s worth all those values in between individually. Why is it worth $11M, $12M, etc.? Make sure you respect your own anchor points when making these types of arguments.”

To give you a simpler (and sillier) example, there’s a good reason why late night show hosts always lead with, “We’ve got a really great show tonight!” It doesn’t matter that you know they always say the same thing no matter what. As soon as you’ve contemplated whether tonight’s show is great, it’s been anchored in your mind that it is — your outlook on it is already positive, thanks to System I.

###

“They’re going to remember hardly anything you cram into that hour,” says Odean. “Because they’ll remember random parts, you want to construct a message that — when sampled at any point — reinforces your argument and remains persuasive. Keep it to the highlight reel and stick to a very short, simple message that you repeat in different ways again and again. When there are fewer things to remember, your audience is more likely to remember what matters.”
tech  startups  leadership  management  psychology  persuasion 
11 weeks ago by alexpriest
Mother of invention | 1843
"In a way, the journey that made the Musks is a classic American one, of people who arrived the hard way from a difficult country. Kimbal has spoken of the difficulty of giving his children the sense of urgency he once had when he first arrived and feared he might have to go back to South Africa. Elon has tackled this dilemma of child rearing by setting up a private school, which his five children attend, that teaches problem-solving and matches the curriculum to the aptitudes and capabilities of the child. It is called Ad Astra, meaning “to the stars”. Yet even the name of the school conceals the same lingering irony about parenting. The Latin phrase that the space crowd live with is actually: “per aspera ad astra” – through hardships, to the stars. If necessity is indeed the mother of invention, how are successful people to raise enterprising offspring? They cannot, without fear of being unkind, foist upon their children the challenges that they overcame.
Yet it seems reasonable to believe that Maye had some influence on how these three individuals turned out. And her approach to parenting was very different to the modern norm. By today’s sandards, she gave her children an outlandish degree of freedom to take risks, extraordinarily little supervision and made no attempt to shape their interests or to determine their futures. They made adult decisions at an early age, and even though the family was separated often, the bond between them remained strong."
elon_musk  parenting  tech 
11 weeks ago by alexpriest
Everyone Is Getting Hilariously Rich and You’re Not - The New York Times
I can't help but think these people are fucking insane.

###

“When I meet people in the normal world now, I get bored,” Mr. Hummer said. “It’s just a different level of consciousness.”

The tone turns somber.

“Sometimes I think about what would happen to the future if a bomb went off at one of our meetings,” Mr. Buttram said.

Mr. Hummer said, “A bomb would set back civilization for years.”

A few days later, Mr. Hummer was working from his co-founder’s apartment.
bitcoin  blockchain  wealth  tech  startups 
february 2018 by alexpriest
Plateau Kindle Before Peak Kindle – 500ish Words
I like the vision for the Kindle, even if I don’t like it itself.
amazon  reading  tech  attention  books  kindle 
february 2018 by alexpriest
Facebook Conceded It Might Make You Feel Bad. Here’s How to Interpret That.
Look at that. “If you think Facebook is ruining the world, you should be a little glad that even Facebook agrees that we need a better Facebook — and that it is pledging to build one.”
facebook  social_media  psychology  tech 
december 2017 by alexpriest
Bob Lutz: Kiss the good times goodbye
So interesting.

“The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents.

Of course, there will be a transition period. Everyone will have five years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap or trade it on a module.”
uber  cars  self_driving_cars  tech  business  technology  transportation  culture  public_transit  how_we_live 
november 2017 by alexpriest
In-Depth: Why Clocks Run Clockwise (And Some Watches And Clocks That Don't)
So interesting! “The idea that clockwise motion represents the forward motion of time so powerful that it's hard to look at such a watch or clock without having the slightly unsettling feeling that time is running backwards.”
tech  culture  history  clocks  time  science 
november 2017 by alexpriest
WeWork, LOL
I mean...

“So the WeWork math is:

(Small office company)+ (Free tequila tastings)= HUGE OFFICE COMPANY.”
tech  wework  how_we_work  real_estate  business 
october 2017 by alexpriest
My Smartphone Died, and I Didn’t Miss It. Well, Maybe a Little.
Important point about how our global infrastructure expects us to have smartphones. Harder to live without them than it was before they came around, because we don’t have the same analog tools.
tech  iphone  how_we_live  culture  travel  focus  maps 
october 2017 by alexpriest
'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia | Technology | The Guardian
Yuuuuup.

“Drawing a straight line between addiction to social media and political earthquakes like Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, they contend that digital forces have completely upended the political system and, left unchecked, could even render democracy as we know it obsolete.”

###

“It is revealing that many of these younger technologists are weaning themselves off their own products, sending their children to elite Silicon Valley schools where iPhones, iPads and even laptops are banned. They appear to be abiding by a Biggie Smalls lyric from their own youth about the perils of dealing crack cocaine: never get high on your own supply.”

###

“It’s this that explains how the pull-to-refresh mechanism, whereby users swipe down, pause and wait to see what content appears, rapidly became one of the most addictive and ubiquitous design features in modern technology. “Each time you’re swiping down, it’s like a slot machine,” Harris says. “You don’t know what’s coming next. Sometimes it’s a beautiful photo. Sometimes it’s just an ad.””

###

“All of which has left Brichter, who has put his design work on the backburner while he focuses on building a house in New Jersey, questioning his legacy. “I’ve spent many hours and weeks and months and years thinking about whether anything I’ve done has made a net positive impact on society or humanity at all,” he says. He has blocked certain websites, turned off push notifications, restricted his use of the Telegram app to message only with his wife and two close friends, and tried to wean himself off Twitter. “I still waste time on it,” he confesses, “just reading stupid news I already know about.” He charges his phone in the kitchen, plugging it in at 7pm and not touching it until the next morning.

“Smartphones are useful tools,” he says. “But they’re addictive. Pull-to-refresh is addictive. Twitter is addictive. These are not good things. When I was working on them, it was not something I was mature enough to think about. I’m not saying I’m mature now, but I’m a little bit more mature, and I regret the downsides.””
tech  how_we_work  politics  culture  how_we_live  democracy 
october 2017 by alexpriest
How to Build Self-Conscious Artificial Intelligence | WIRED
Very good.

###

“Perhaps the best thing to come from AI research isn’t an understanding of computers, but rather an understanding of ourselves. The challenges we face in building machines that think highlight the various little miracles of our own biochemical goo. They also highlight our deficiencies. To replicate ourselves, we have to first embrace both the miracles and the foibles.”

###

“The third component is a bit more unusual, and I don’t know why anyone would build one except to reproduce evolution’s botched mess. This final component is a separate part of the machine that observes the rest of its body and makes up stories about what it’s doing—stories that are usually wrong.”

###

“Sue guessing what Juan is thinking is known as First Order Theory of Mind. It gets more complex. Sue might also be curious about what Juan thinks of her. This is Second Order Theory of Mind, and it is the root of most of our neuroses and perseverate thinking. “Does Juan think I’m smart?” “Does Juan like me?” “Does Juan wish me harm?” “Is Juan in a good or bad mood because of something I did?”

Questions like these should sound very, very familiar. We fill our days with them. And that’s just the beginning.

Third Order Theory of Mind would be for Sue to wonder what Juan thinks Josette thinks about Tom. More simply, does Tom know Josette is into him? Or Sue might wonder what Josette thinks Juan thinks about Sue. Is Josette jealous, in other words? This starts to sound confusing, the listing of several names and all the “thinking about” thrown in there like glue, but this is what we preoccupy our minds with more than any other conscious-level sort of thinking. We hardly stop doing it. We might call it gossip, or socializing, but our brains consider this their main duty—their primary function. There is speculation that Theory of Mind, and not tool use, is the reason for the relative size of our brains in the first place.”

###
tech  ai  technology  economics  robots  how_we_live 
october 2017 by alexpriest
The Blockchain Man
SO fascinating. Highlights:

* "For all the scorn today’s technologists heap on organization men, it was a rational adaptation to the times. My dad grew up handpicking cotton on a small farm in rural Northwest Tennessee. Given the choice between the Farm and the Organization, he picked the Organization. I would have too. I have yet to meet a TPS report so onerous I would prefer to be handpicking cotton in Tennessee in August."

* "In the same way, the invention of the corporation created and shaped the Organization Man as much as the reverse. After the rise of the corporation, there was no going back. The Organization Man pushed those outside the Organization to the fringes through corporatism and nationalism."

* "1974 was the year we hit peak centralization and began transitioning towards a new techno-economic paradigm. The personal computer, the Internet, and the World Wide Web have been the major technological elements so far."

* "In the mid-2000’s, it became economically feasible to run a ten-person company manufacturing in China, distributing in North America with developers in Eastern Europe and designers in South East Asia.

Over the next two decades, blockchains will bring transaction costs down yet another order of magnitude. It will enable as yet unconceived of business models.

As we approach a world without transaction costs, the equilibrium size of the corporation trends towards one person.

That person is The Blockchain Man."

* "The fat protocol, thin application structure of blockchains means that value will accrete further down the societal “stack.” The scientist’s tinkering around the frontier seemed like a waste to the Organization Man. In a world dominated by blockchains, the value of this tinkering will be more easily captured, and its value more legible."

* "The Balkanization that began in the late 20th century with the fracturing of post-colonial Africa and post-USSR Eastern Europe will continue through the 21st century. The city-state will become the organizing unit of global society."

* "The Blockchain Man’s career will look like a combination of a lifestyle business owner and free agent.

The metaphor of a “career ladder” with its linear, upward sloping path worked well with the corporate pyramid.

In a world dominated blockchains, careers will transform into something more like Sheryl Sandberg’s career jungle gym where each crossbar of the gym may represent a blockchain.

This will result in a career for The Blockchain Man alternating between project sprints and periods of unemployment or mini-retirements, much like Hollywood operates today.

Hollywood is able to bring together large teams for complex movie projects and dissolve them afterwards. Unlike the steady-state jogging of The Organization Man, working in Hollywood is alternating between sprints to get a project done and slow strolls looking for the next one."

* "Blockchains allows dissenters to fork. While it’s likely that one fork will become vastly more powerful, there will be a long tail of smaller chains as well.

Instead of arguing with his boss, The Blockchain Man may fork the project and create his own version.

Instead of protesting against a political party or decision, The Blockchain Man may leave."

* "Where the Organization Man’s world was defined by The Organization, The Blockchain Man’s world will be defined by markets.

Even something as simple as commuting will be market driven.

What happens when you mash blockchains, Uber and Self-driving cars together? The self-owning car.

A car that pays for its lease, its insurance, and its gas, by giving people rides. A car that is not owned by a corporation. It is a corporation. The car exists as an autonomous financial entity, potentially with no human ownership."

* "The Blockchain Man’s world will be defined by the three tenets of the Protocol Ethic.

a belief in the individual as the source of creativity
a belief in serving the needs of the protocol as the ultimate purpose of the individual
and a belief in the application of blockchains to achieve an individual’s highest potential."
society  humanism  humanity  blockchain  organizations  how_we_live  how_we_work  economics  capitalism  capital  economy  technology  tech  career  self_driving_cars  ai  automation 
october 2017 by alexpriest
On Russian Meddling, Mark Zuckerberg Follows a Familiar Playbook
Worth a read. “Like all tech leaders, Mr. Zuckerberg is often hailed as a visionary, but his primary talent is as a reactor. His true skill is not in seeing ahead, but in looking back and fixing where Facebook has failed. And what’s noteworthy is that when he marshals Facebook’s considerable resources to address a problem, Mr. Zuckerberg has a track record of making things right.”
tech  zuckerberg  leadership  facebook  business  politics 
september 2017 by alexpriest
Google Doesn’t Want What’s Best for Us
"We have an obligation to care about the values of the people who run Google, because we’ve given Google enormous control over our lives and the lives of our children. As the former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris points out, “Without realizing the implications, a handful of tech leaders at Google and Facebook have built the most pervasive, centralized systems for steering human attention that has ever existed, while enabling skilled actors (addictive apps, bots, foreign governments) to hijack our attention for manipulative ends.”"
business  values  culture  corporate_culture  silicon_valley  google  diversity  tech 
august 2017 by alexpriest
NYTimes: Please Prove You’re Not a Robot
"Using robots to fake support, steal tickets or crash democracy really is the kind of evil that science fiction writers were warning about. The use of robots takes advantage of the fact that political campaigns, elections and even open markets make humanistic assumptions, trusting that there is wisdom or at least legitimacy in crowds and value in public debate. But when support and opinion can be manufactured, bad or unpopular arguments can win not by logic but by a novel, dangerous form of force — the ultimate threat to every democracy." !!!
social_media  democracy  media  politics  tech  robots 
july 2017 by alexpriest
NYTimes: If Tech Execs Act Like Spoiled Brats, Should We Spank Them?
"It will be difficult, but we should do this. Let’s get out there and test these techniques. We will see if we can civilize these corporate man-babies. If we are lucky enough to succeed, we can move on to an even bigger challenge: Washington. I’ve got a list."

So good.
corporate_culture  how_we_work  tech  culture  politics  startups  business 
july 2017 by alexpriest
Return of the S.R.O., With a Twist
Interesting new trend. Relevant to Justin McCarty.
tech  economy  housing  renting 
may 2017 by alexpriest
Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?
Very, very good. One highlight:

"Because Silicon Valley is a place where a newcomer can unseat the most established player, many people there believe—despite evidence everywhere to the contrary—that tech is a meritocracy. Ironically enough, this very belief can perpetuate inequality. A 2010 study, “The Paradox of Meritocracy in Organizations,” found that in cultures that espouse meritocracy, managers may in fact “show greater bias in favor of men over equally performing women.” In a series of three experiments, the researchers presented participants with profiles of similarly performing individuals of both genders, and asked them to award bonuses. The researchers found that telling participants that their company valued merit-based decisions only increased the likelihood of their giving higher bonuses to the men."
how_we_work  startups  tech  discrimination  equality  business  culture  psychology  women  bias 
march 2017 by alexpriest
The North Sea's Plans for Wind Power Generating Islands
U"nder the plan, the North Sea could gain an archipelago of power-generating islands within a decade. A Danish, Dutch, and German consortium created by the companies TenneT and Energinet is launching plans to create an island 6 kilometers in circumference, roughly equidistant between Denmark, Norway, Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Still at blueprint stage, the island would act as a power hub at the center of a vast new wind farm, at a scale that hasn’t been seen anywhere else thus far. Surrounded by a turbine array with a generating capacity of between 70,000 and 100,000 megawatts, the island would channel this energy through direct live cable connections to the countries surrounding the sea. These current lines would also function as an interconnector system, so that unneeded power could be sold onto other countries in periods of high production or low demand.

Finally, while it is unlikely that the islands would be permanently inhabited, they would provide an ideal base to service the turbines and power lines, providing a temporary base for staff that would make maintenance cheaper and easier. The video below—still speculative—reveals it as a reasonably spacious place, with a high, rocky breakwater sheltering space for a dock, an airstrip, and service buildings, as well as a freshwater pool with tree-planted edges. Should the initial project be successful, a string of other islands nearby could be in the works."
europe  wind  energy  power  economics  tech 
march 2017 by alexpriest
How Netflix-ication Can Deliver A Waste-Free Circular Economy
Good read. "On a planet of finite resources, and in an age of increased expectations around experience, services are likely to make increasing sense in category after category."
tech  netflix  economy  services  business  culture  economics 
march 2017 by alexpriest
How Netflix Is Deepening Our Cultural Echo Chambers
"Yet for a brief while, from the 1950s to the late 1980s, broadcast television served cultural, social and political roles far greater than the banality of its content would suggest. Because it featured little choice, TV offered something else: the raw material for a shared culture. Television was the thing just about everyone else was watching at the same time as you. In its enforced similitude, it became a kind of social glue, stitching together a new national identity across a vast, growing and otherwise diverse nation."
tv  culture  how_we_live  entertainment  pop_culture  tech 
january 2017 by alexpriest
Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China
Hm. "“It’s better for Facebook to be a part of enabling conversation, even if it’s not yet the full conversation,” Mr. Zuckerberg said, according to employees."
social_media  business  foreign_policy  tech  politics  china  facebook 
november 2016 by alexpriest
The New Workplace Is Agile, and Nonstop. Can You Keep Up?
I still don't know how I feel about this. "“We don’t talk about work/life balance anymore,” said Barry Crist, Chef’s chief executive. “It’s work/life mix. If you need to be home at 4, then put your kid to bed and make up for it at 10 p.m., that’s fine. Younger people now want flux in their day, and they don’t want to turn off the information, ever.”"
how_we_live  how_we_work  business  tech  culture  work  balance 
november 2016 by alexpriest
Auto Format
This is very good. "But a decade on, I still find myself thinking in the terms of Twitter: how each absurd, mundane happening in my life might be framed so as to be alluring to my audience, a potential employer, a date, or new friend. I still always carry my followers with me. In fact, I can’t get rid of them. They are like a ghostly companion, ever at my side. It isn’t just my tweets that have changed, but the way in which I relate to reality."
social_media  communication  tech  culture  psychology 
october 2016 by alexpriest
Uberworld
Good summary of "Uberworld" in today's landscape.
future  tech  business  cities  uber 
september 2016 by alexpriest
Technology Alone Won’t Make You Better at What You Do
"As the history of email teaches us, a new technology, no matter how slick, cannot by itself transform a workplace for the better. This remains a deeply human endeavor. We must figure out what it means to work well in the 21st century and then slot in technologies only where and how they fit this plan. These tools cannot do this hard work for us."
tech  business  email  how_we_work 
september 2016 by alexpriest
How to Be an Expert in a Changing World
"The first step is to have an explicit belief in change. People who fall victim to a monotonically increasing confidence in their opinions are implicitly concluding the world is static. If you consciously remind yourself it isn't, you start to look for change."
learning  tech  startups  business 
august 2016 by alexpriest
America’s Best Days Are Not Behind Us
Hear, hear. "Yes, household appliances look pretty much the same now as they did in 1970, but that doesn’t mean our lives in 2070 won’t be profoundly different."
startups  tech  history  culture  policy  politics 
august 2016 by alexpriest
Welcome to AirSpace
"Among the phenomenon’s consequences is depersonalization, in the psychiatric sense: "a state in which one loses all sense of identity." I personally like the AirSpace style. I can’t say no to a tasteful, clean, modern life space. But thinking through its roots and negative implications makes me reconsider my attachment. It’s hard to identify with something so empty at its core." Whoosh.
tech  how_we_live  design  travel  culture  how_we_work  architecture  interiors 
august 2016 by alexpriest
When Uber Leaves
So Interesting. Easy to underestimate the impact... until it happens.
cities  policy  tech  culture  uber  ridesharing  regulation 
august 2016 by alexpriest
Zen And The Art Of Uber Driving | Co.Exist | ideas + impact
Fascinating perspective. "I think of Uber as a modern-day version of the Works Progress Administration during the Depression. Thanks to Uber, I am not poor. I am just . . . nobody."
uber  startups  business  tech  culture  sf 
august 2016 by alexpriest
The Babysitters Club
I can't emphasize enough how good this is. "Adulthood stretches pointlessly out ahead of us, the planet is melting off its axis, you will never have a retirement account. Here’s a hamster."
culture  tech  startups  apps  marketing  language  psychology 
august 2016 by alexpriest
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