You’ve ingested the turkey and the tryptophan. You’ve carefully avoided talking about politics. You’ve given thanks for all your abundant blessings. And you’re probably not even reading this column because you’re out shopping. Happy Black Friday!Read More
“As tech giants become a new kind of Internet gatekeeper,” said Senator Al Franken this week, “I believe the same basic principles of net neutrality should apply here. No one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t.”Read More
They had invited me to talk about the technological singularity: the moment when computer intelligence surpasses human intelligence.
"Is it true?" they asked, brows furrowed. "Are the robots going to kill us all?"
"Very possibly," I replied. "But that's not why we should be scared."
Let me explain.Read More
Remember when propaganda used to be straightforward?
It came in the form of leaflets, flyers, treatises. It was aired on state-run television and broadcast on state-run radio. In its more insidious form, it came via “independent media” -- without the audience being aware of how much that media may have been controlled by shadowy authority figures lurking in the background. At its worst, it was disseminated by covert agents infiltrating key opposition groups.
In July of 1993, the cartoonist Peter Steiner doodled a cartoon that he wasn’t particularly proud of. He submitted it, along with a batch of others, to his bosses at The New Yorker. They liked it more than he did, and published it. It had a slow start, but it also had sticking power. Twenty years later, it was the most reproduced cartoon in New Yorker history.
The premise is simple. A dog is sitting at a computer. “On the Internet,” he says to the dog sitting next to him, “nobody knows you’re a dog.”
Like you -- I assume -- I hope-- I was saddened and sickened by the events that unfolded in Charlottesville last weekend.
Saddened by the hatred. Sickened by the violence. Filled with grief, and despairing of our ability to soothe these tensions and heal these divides. How can people come together when their starting frames don’t share even the slightest shred of commonality?
It’s the age of machine learning, they say. Thanks to algorithms, we can finally eliminate bias. There was no subconscious prejudice -- the decision was made by a computer. After all, computers don’t have a subconscious.
Except, of course, they do.
Pick a random thing, and you’ll find a community of people who are into it.
There are people who are obsessed with cloud-watching. There’s a guy who corrected the same error on Wikipedia 47,000 times. There’s a whole heap of people convinced the earth is hollow, and a whole heap of others equally convinced it’s flat.