Thursday, September 14, 2017

Word of the Day: Antediluvian

an·te·di·lu·vi·an
ˌan(t)ēdəˈlo͞ovēən/
adjective
  1. of or belonging to the time before the biblical Flood.

    "gigantic bones of antediluvian animals"

    synonyms:out of dateoutdatedoutmodedold-fashionedantiquated, behind the times, passé
    "her antediluvian attitudes"

Here are some random thoughts for the day:

Hero with A Thousand Faces

The book, Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell was a big influence on George Lucas and his Star Wars Saga.



Machiavelli,  The Prince

Power is the most important commodity. For several centuries, Machiavelli has been the go to source on how to obtain and keep hold of it:



Ted Leo

Ted Leo, someone who has managed to stay in the music biz for several decades:



99% Invisible - The Age of the Algorithm

WARNING: Blue Haired, Liberal Feminist Alert. The below topic deals with an important subject but comes from the perspective of someone with their own set of leftist biases.

Listened to excellent podcast today:

99 Percentinvisible.org - Episode 274 The Age of the Algorithm/

It consists of an interview with Cathy O'Neil, author of the book Weapons of Math Destruction:

www.goodreads.com - Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil

In it, she explains that algorithms are a set of instructions for solving a problem. She makes the point that they are not objective because they reflect priorities of human designers. She also stresses that some of them are harmful and one kind is particularly destructive.

The destructive kind has several attributes:
  •  Its usage is widespread.
  • It has an important impact on people.
  • It is secret so people do not know they are being judged by it or how it works.
  • It is harmful.
In the interview, she brings up the criminal justice system as an example of one area where algorithms may be stacked against some groups.  She give the crime risk algorithm as an example of one such destructive algorithm. She points out that it may unfairly punish individuals for societal factors.

Math Magic - She also points out that many people are too intimidated to question these algorithms. Since they can be quite complex and often involve mathematical equations, most people are not capable of delving into them. They also assume that since they have a lot of complexity behind them that they must be right.

Propaganda Machine - She also brings up issues with social media where most people now spend the majority of their time on the internet. Social media has algorithms that determine your preconceived beliefs and then pushes a steady stream of reinforcement to you in the form of links and ads. Social media is not concerned with truth or making people question things.

One Size Fits All - A lot of these algorithms are packaged and sold on a mass scale to all sorts of companies. One example of these are job personality tests which up to 70% of all applicant have to take nowadays. They are based on a 5 factor personality test used by psychologists in mental health exams. As such, they may be illegal under the Americans with disabilities acts. Further, they may reject certain personality types from all jobs regardless of the actual job requirements.

Avoiding Difficult Conversations - As a final point, Cathy notes that often these algorithms are used when people want to avoid having to make difficult decisions and conversations such as employee evaluations.



Serendipity

ser·en·dip·i·ty
ˌserənˈdipədē/
noun
  1. the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Tutelary

tu·te·lar·y
ˈt(y)o͞odlˌerē/
adjective
  1. serving as a protector, guardian, or patron.

    "the tutelary spirits of these regions"
    • relating to protection or a guardian.

      "the state maintained a tutelary relation with the security police"

Method to Zuckerberg's Madness

In his book, Chaos Monkeys, Antonio Martinez has a good section about his former boss Mark Zuckerberg.

www.goodreads.com - Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez

He describes Zuckerberg as a genius but not the type one would expect. Rather than some product genius like Steve Jobs, Martinez posits that Zuckerberg is an old school visionary type genius, one who has mad visions that he can get people to zealously follow.

He describes Facebook as a hacker culture where getting things quickly done was what counted not how they got done. In fact much was forgiven as long as one could deliver.

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