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jerryking : gaming_the_system   6

Michael Lewis Makes Boring Stuff Interesting - WSJ
May 17, 2019 | THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | By Richard Turner.

The writer’s new podcast ‘Against the Rules’ asks what has happened to fairness in the U.S.......Michael Lewis doesn’t really need this gig. His new podcast, “Against the Rules,” doesn’t pay anything close to his book-writing day job. It’s unlikely to turn into a movie. Plus, the podcast’s subject is pretty abstract: Who are the referees in our society? Who determines what is fair and even what is true? Is our whole system rigged from stem to stern, as everyone from President Donald Trump to sports fans to the Black Lives Matter movement insists?.....The idea to examine “what’s happened to fairness” in an age when America’s arbiters are no longer trusted. The Walter Cronkites of the world are gone, and those assigned to make the tough calls are reviled, threatened and assumed (sometimes correctly) to be corrupt.....“It’s a big problem for democracy if people don’t have a shared reality,” Mr. Lewis says. “It’s difficult to establish a referee in an increasingly unequal environment” like today’s U.S., “when there are powerful parties and not-so powerful ones. .......Mr. Lewis’s skills turn out to be well-suited to the podcast medium. His calling card, echoed by untold critics and readers, is this: He makes boring stuff interesting. He collects disparate ingredients, whips them up with character and narrative, and distills human stories into engrossing big-picture explainers........Lewis keeps seeing failures of refereeing. “There was no referee at the interface between Wall Street and the consumers—consumer finance. I saw the birth of that, when Wall Street hit segments of society it had never touched, through subprime mortgages, for car loans, through asset-backed securities. There was no one saying, ‘That’s fair and that’s not.’”.......Among his topics: correct English usage, judges, used cars, identity theft, credit-card companies, student-loan abuses, Cambridge Analytica, King Solomon and the famed mediator Kenneth Feinberg, who handled victim compensation for 9/11 families and those affected by the 2010 BP oil spill. Listeners can imagine myriad future topics related to fairness: expanding the Supreme Court, machines calling balls and strikes, cable-news coverage of the Trump presidency and so on.
boring  consumer_finance  credit-ratings  democracy  failure  fairness  gaming_the_system  Michael_Lewis  NBA  podcasting  podcasts  refereeing  rules_of_the_game  shared_experiences  unglamorous  Wall_Street  writers 
may 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | Warning! Everything Is Going Deep: ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’
Jan. 29, 2019 | The New York Times | By Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist.

Recent advances in the speed and scope of digitization, connectivity, big data and artificial intelligence are now taking us “deep” into places and into powers that we’ve never experienced before — and that governments have never had to regulate before. I’m talking about deep learning, deep insights, deep surveillance, deep facial recognition, deep voice recognition, deep automation and deep artificial minds.

Some of these technologies offer unprecedented promise and some unprecedented peril — but they’re all now part of our lives. Everything is going did we get so deep down where the sharks live?

The short answer: Technology moves up in steps, and each step, each new platform, is usually biased toward a new set of capabilities. Around the year 2000 we took a huge step up that was biased toward connectivity, because of the explosion of fiber-optic cable, wireless and satellites.

Suddenly connectivity became so fast, cheap, easy for you and ubiquitous that it felt like you could touch someone whom you could never touch before and that you could be touched by someone who could never touch you before.

Around 2007, we took another big step up. The iPhone, sensors, digitization, big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing melded together and created a new platform that was biased toward abstracting complexity at a speed, scope and scale we’d never experienced big data got really big, as broadband got really fast, as algorithms got really smart, as 5G got actually deployed, artificial intelligence got really intelligent. So now, with no touch — but just a voice command or machines acting autonomously — we can go so much deeper in so many areas....DeepMind, the artificial intelligence arm of Google’s parent, developed an A.I. program, AlphaGo, that has now defeated the world’s top human players of the ancient strategy game Go — which is much more complex than chess — by learning from human play......Today “virtual agents” — using conversational interfaces powered by artificial intelligence — can increasingly understand your intent... just by hearing your voice.....The percentage of calls a chatbot, or virtual agent, is able to handle without turning the caller over to a person is called its “containment rate,” and these rates are steadily soaring. ....But bad guys, who are always early adopters, also see the same potential to go deep in wholly new ways.....On Jan. 20, The London Observer looked at Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff’s new book, the title of which perfectly describes the deep dark waters we’ve entered: “The Age of Surveillance Capital.”....“Surveillance capitalism,” Zuboff wrote, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioral surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence,’ and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioral futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behavior.”
5G  algorithms  AlphaGo  artificial_intelligence  automation  books  complexity  connectivity  dark_side  DeepMind  digitalization  gaming_the_system  human_experience  massive_data_sets  patterns  rogue_actors  Tom_Friedman  trustworthiness  virtual_agents 
january 2019 by jerryking
How We Are Ruining America
JULY 11, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.....Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids......Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution recently published a book called “Dream Hoarders” detailing some of the structural ways the well educated rig the system.

The most important is residential zoning restrictions. Well-educated people tend to live in places like Portland, New York and San Francisco that have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.....second structural barrier is the college admissions game. Educated parents live in neighborhoods with the best teachers, they top off their local public school budgets and they benefit from legacy admissions rules, from admissions criteria that reward kids who grow up with lots of enriching travel and from unpaid internships that lead to jobs.....the structural barriers emphasized are less important than the informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent (e.g. being aware of cultural signifiers around, say, gourmet food)

.......American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class (i.e. excelling at being socially graceful). They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.”
David_Brooks  social_mobility  Colleges_&_Universities  socially_graceful  inequality  geographic_sorting  college-educated  super_ZIPs  self-perpetuation  values  opportunity_gaps  upper-income  social_exclusion  books  structural_barriers  admissions  elitism  social_classes  zoning  restrictions  social_barriers  cultural_signifiers  privilege  gaming_the_system  unfair_advantages  ruination  rituals 
july 2017 by jerryking
Open data is not a panacea | mathbabe
December 29, 2012 Cathy O'Neil,
And it’s not just about speed. You can have hugely important, rich, and large data sets sitting in a lump on a publicly available website like wikipedia, and if you don’t have fancy parsing tools and algorithms you’re not going to be able to make use of it.

When important data goes public, the edge goes to the most sophisticated data engineer, not the general public. The Goldman Sachs’s of the world will always know how to make use of “freely available to everyone” data before the average guy.

Which brings me to my second point about open data. It’s general wisdom that we should hope for the best but prepare for the worst. My feeling is that as we move towards open data we are doing plenty of the hoping part but not enough of the preparing part.

If there’s one thing I learned working in finance, it’s not to be naive about how information will be used. You’ve got to learn to think like an asshole to really see what to worry about. It’s a skill which I don’t regret having.

So, if you’re giving me information on where public schools need help, I’m going to imagine using that information to cut off credit for people who live nearby. If you tell me where environmental complaints are being served, I’m going to draw a map and see where they aren’t being served so I can take my questionable business practices there.
open_data  unintended_consequences  preparation  skepticism  naivete  no_regrets  Goldman_Sachs  tools  algorithms  Cathy_O’Neil  thinking_tragically  slight_edge  sophisticated  unfair_advantages  smart_people  data_scientists  gaming_the_system  dark_side 
december 2013 by jerryking
Data Is the World
Aug 1, 2005 | | Michael S. Hopkins.

Use your data. "Companies aren't taking advantage of the data they generate, Levitt says. "Often, data generated for one purpose is useful for another. Freakonomics describes the case of an entrepreneur selling bagels in corporate offices who kept meticulous records to track profits and loss—data that eventually yielded insights about white-collar crime and the effects of office size on honesty.
Ask different questions. The abortion-crime link revealed itself when Levitt thought to stop asking what made crime fall and try asking why it had risen so much in the first place. That led him to justice system practices in the 1960s, which led him to a statistical understanding of which individuals were likeliest to commit crimes, and ultimately to the question of why a large segment of that population seemed to have vanished.
Don't mistake correlation for causality. Innovative policing and a drop in crime happened simultaneously, but data proved the one didn't cause the other. (Be mindful of the feudal king who, having learned disease was greatest in regions with the most doctors, figured that reducing doctors would reduce disease.)
Question conventional wisdom. An idea that is both easy to understand and a source of comfort (such as the credit quickly given to innovative policing for cutting crime) should be especially suspect.
Respect the complexity of incentives. "You can't imagine, says Levitt, "all the ways humans will connive to beat a system.
Employ data against cheating. Just as companies don't sufficiently capitalize on the data they have access to, they aren't exploiting what Levitt calls "opportunities to think about fraud or theft in their businesses.
'60s  bank_shots  causality  cheating  conventional_wisdom  correlations  data  data_driven  exhaust_data  Freakonomics  gaming_the_system  incentives  insights  justice_system  massive_data_sets  metadata  oversimplification  questions  skepticism  social_data  Steven_Levitt  theft  think_differently  white-collar_crime 
january 2013 by jerryking
The Spirit of Enterprise -
December 1, 2011

Nations like Germany and the U.S. are rich primarily because of shared habits, values and social capital....People who work hard and play by the rules should have a fair shot at prosperity. Money should go to people on the basis of merit and enterprise. Self-control should be rewarded while laziness and self-indulgence should not. Community institutions should nurture responsibility and fairness.

This ethos is not an immutable genetic property, which can blithely be taken for granted. It’s a precious social construct, which can be undermined and degraded.

Right now, this ethos is being undermined from all directions. People see lobbyists diverting money on the basis of connections; they see traders making millions off of short-term manipulations; they see governments stealing money from future generations to reward current voters.

The result is a crisis of legitimacy. The game is rigged. Social trust shrivels. Effort is no longer worth it. The prosperity machine winds down....The real lesson from financial crises is that, at the pit of the crisis, you do what you have to do. You bail out the banks. You bail out the weak European governments. But, at the same time, you lock in policies that reinforce the fundamental link between effort and reward. And, as soon as the crisis passes, you move to repair the legitimacy of the system.

That didn’t happen after the American financial crisis of 2008.
David_Brooks  Europe  moral_hazards  euro_zone  European_Union  bailouts  gaming_the_system  values  social_capital  social_fabric  social_cohesion  covenants  legitimacy  social_trust  social_contract  laziness  self-indulgence  self-control  undermining_of_trust  locked_in  financial_crises 
december 2011 by jerryking

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