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jerryking : unintended_consequences   32

Opinion | Dealing With China Isn’t Worth the Moral Cost
Oct. 9, 2019 | The New York Times | By Farhad Manjoo.

We thought economic growth and technology would liberate China. Instead, it corrupted us.

The People’s Republic of China is the largest, most powerful and arguably most brutal totalitarian state in the world. It denies basic human rights to all of its nearly 1.4 billion citizens. There is no freedom of speech, thought, assembly, religion, movement or any semblance of political liberty in China. Under Xi Jinping, “president for life,” the CCP has built the most technologically sophisticated repression machine the world has ever seen. In Xinjiang, in Western China, the government is using technology to mount a cultural genocide against the Muslim Uighur minority that is even more total than the one it carried out in Tibet. Human rights experts say that more than a million people are being held in detention camps in Xinjiang, two million more are in forced “re-education,” and everyone else is invasively surveilled via ubiquitous cameras, artificial intelligence and other high-tech means.

None of this is a secret. Under Xi, China has grown markedly more Orwellian;......Why do we give China a pass? In a word: capitalism. Because for 40 years, the West’s relationship with China has been governed by a strategic error the dimensions of which are only now coming into horrific view.......A parade of American presidents on the left and the right argued that by cultivating China as a market — hastening its economic growth and technological sophistication while bringing our own companies a billion new workers and customers — we would inevitably loosen the regime’s hold on its people....the West’s entire political theory about China has been spectacularly wrong. China has engineered ferocious economic growth in the past half century, lifting hundreds of millions of its citizens out of miserable poverty. But China’s growth did not come at any cost to the regime’s political chokehold....It is also now routinely corrupting the rest of us outside of China......the N.B.A.’s hasty and embarrassing apology this week after Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ general manager, tweeted — and quickly deleted — a message in support of Hong Kong’s protesters......The N.B.A. is far from the first American institution to accede to China’s limits on liberty. Hollywood, large tech companies and a variety of consumer brands — from Delta to Zara — have been more than willing to play ball. The submission is spreading: .....This sort of corporate capitulation is hardly surprising. For Western companies, China is simply too big and too rich a market to ignore, let alone to pressure or to police. .....it will only get worse from here, and we are fools to play this game. There is a school of thought that says America should not think of China as an enemy. With its far larger population, China’s economy will inevitably come to eclipse ours, but that is hardly a mortal threat. In climate change, the world faces a huge collective-action problem that will require global cooperation. According to this view, treating China like an adversary will only frustrate our own long-term goals......this perspective leaves out the threat that greater economic and technological integration with China poses to everyone outside of China. It ignores the ever-steeper capitulation that China requires of its partners. And it overlooks the most important new factor in the Chinese regime’s longevity: the seductive efficiency that technology offers to effect a breathtaking new level of control over its population......Through online surveillance, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and the propagandistic gold mine of social media, China has mobilized a set of tools that allow it to invisibly, routinely repress its citizens and shape political opinion by manipulating their feelings and grievances on just about any controversy.....Chinese-style tech-abetted surveillance authoritarianism could become a template for how much of the world works.
adversaries  artificial_intelligence  authoritarianism  brands  capitalism  capitulation  China  China_rising  Chinese_Communist_Party  climate_change  collective_action  cultural_genocide  decoupling  despots  errors  facial_recognition  Farhad_Manjoo  freedom  Hollywood  Hong_Kong  human_rights  influence  NBA  op-ed  Orwell  propaganda  repression  self-corruption  surveillance  surveillance_authoritarianism  technology  threats  Tibet  totalitarianism  tyranny  Uyghurs  unintended_consequences  values  Xi_Jinping 
12 days ago by jerryking
Roger McNamee on how to tame Big Tech
February 7, 2019 | Financial Times | Roger McNamee.

Government intervention of this kind is a first step on the path to resolving the privacy issues that result from the architecture, business models and culture of internet platforms. But privacy is not the only problem we must confront. Internet platforms are transforming our economy and culture in unprecedented ways. We do not even have a vocabulary to describe this transformation, which complicates the challenge facing policymakers....Google, Facebook and other internet platforms use data to influence or manipulate users in ways that create economic value for the platform, but not necessarily for the users themselves. In the context of these platforms, users are not the customer. They are not even the product. They are more like fuel.....Google, Facebook and the rest now have economic power on the scale of early 20th-century monopolists such as Standard Oil. What is unprecedented is the political power that internet platforms have amassed — power that they exercise with no accountability or oversight, and seemingly without being aware of their responsibility to society......When capitalism functions properly, government sets and enforces the rules under which businesses and citizens must operate. Today, however, corpor­ations have usurped this role. Code and algorithms have replaced the legal system as the limiter on behaviour. Corporations such as Google and Facebook behave as if they are not accountable to anyone. Google’s seeming disdain for regulation by the EU and Facebook’s violations of the spirit of its agreement with the US FTC over user consent are cases in point......AI promises to be revolutionary. That said, it will not necessarily be a force for good. The problem is the people who create AI. They are human...McNamee recommends two areas of emphasis: regulation and innovation. As for the former, the most important requirement is to create and enforce standards that require new technology to serve the needs of those who use it and society as a whole. ...... The IoT requires our approval. Do not give it until vendors behave responsibly. Demand that policymakers take action to protect public health, democracy, privacy, innovation and the economy.
accountability  Alexa  antitrust  artificial_intelligence  biases  Big_Tech  consent  dark_side  Facebook  Google  Industrial_Internet  monopolies  personal_data  platforms  political_power  privacy  Roger_McNamee  sensors  surveillance  unintended_consequences 
february 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | How Plato Foresaw Facebook’s Folly
Nov. 16, 2018 The New York Times | By Bret Stephens, Opinion Columnist

Technology promises to make easy things that, by their intrinsic nature, have to be hard......The story of the wildly exaggerated promises and damaging unintended consequences of technology isn’t exactly a new one. The real marvel is that it constantly seems to surprise us. Why?......Part of the reason is that we tend to forget that technology is only as good as the people who use it. .....It’s also true that Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants have sold themselves not so much as profit-seeking companies but as ideal-pursuing movements.....But the deeper reason that technology so often disappoints and betrays us is that it promises to make easy things that, by their intrinsic nature, have to be hard......Tweeting and trolling are easy. Mastering the arts of conversation and measured debate is hard. Texting is easy. Writing a proper letter is hard. Looking stuff up on Google is easy. Knowing what to search for in the first place is hard. Having a thousand friends on Facebook is easy. Maintaining six or seven close adult friendships over the space of many years is hard. Swiping right on Tinder is easy. Finding love — and staying in it — is hard.

That’s what Socrates (or Thamus) means when he deprecates the written word: It gives us an out. It creates the illusion that we can remain informed, and connected, even as we are spared the burdens of attentiveness, presence of mind and memory. That may seem quaint today. But how many of our personal, professional or national problems might be solved if we desisted from depending on shortcuts?... struck by how desperately Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg sought to massage and finesse — with consultants, lobbyists and technological patches — what amounted to a daunting if simple crisis of trust. As with love and grammar, acquiring and maintaining trust is hard. There are no workarounds.
arduous  Bret_Stephens  Facebook  Greek  op-ed  pretense_of_knowledge  Socrates  technology  unintended_consequences  shortcuts  fallacies_follies  philosophy 
november 2018 by jerryking
US companies on edge over China tariff threat to supply chains
April 5, 2017 | FT | by Ed Crooks in New York 6 HOURS AGO.

Vermeer's situation demonstrates how complex international supply chains mean that new tariffs can have damaging unintended consequences. Vermeer, where Mr Andringa is chief executive, imports cabs assembled in its plant in Tianjin, China, that it uses for its drilling vehicle made in Iowa. Using the lower-cost imported cabs helps Vermeer stay competitive against German and Chinese rivals, in the US market and around the world. But the components were on the commerce department’s list of imports from China threatened with a new 25 per cent tariff. If the administration follows through on that threat, Vermeer’s competitive position will be eroded.
Donald_Trump  trade_wars  supply_chains  manufacturers  unintended_consequences  tariffs 
april 2018 by jerryking
Tech Thinks It Has a Fix for the Problems It Created: Blockchain
March 30, 2018 | The New York Times | By DREW JORDAN and SARAH STEIN KERR

Blockchain allows information to be stored and exchanged by a network of computers without any central authority. In theory, this egalitarian arrangement also makes it harder for data to be altered or hacked.....“Everything is moving toward people saying, ‘I want all the benefits of the internet, but I want to protect my privacy and my security,’” he said. “The only thing I know that can reconcile those things is the blockchain.”.....Blockchains assemble data into so-called blocks that are chained together using complicated math. Since each block is built off the last one and includes information like time stamps, any attempt to go back and alter existing data would be highly complicated. In the original Bitcoin blockchain, the data in the blocks is information about Bitcoin wallets and transactions. The blocks of data in the Bitcoin blockchain — and most of its imitators — are kept by a peer-to-peer computer network.

The novel structure allows people to set up online accounts that can securely hold valuable personal information without having to trust a single entity that can hoard, abuse or lose control of the data, as happened with Facebook and the consumer credit reporting agency Equifax....start-ups are using the blockchain in an attempt to pry control of all that data out of the hands of giants like Facebook, Youtube, etc.. ........Tim Berners-Lee has warned that the development of the blockchain could come with unintended consequences, like more activity from criminals operating outside the oversight of governments...... most blockchain projects are still plagued by concerns about privacy. For example, the widely used Bitcoin blockchain allows certain data — details of the transactions between users — to be seen by anyone, even if other data — the users’ identities — remains obscured.....Blockchain-based accounts also rely on users keeping their own passwords or private keys, which people are famously bad at doing......Michael Casey, a co-author of “The Truth Machine,” a new book on the blockchain.
blockchain  bitcoin  howto  crypto-currencies  books  digital_currencies  currencies  virtual_currencies  metacurrencies  Tim_Berners-Lee  unintended_consequences 
april 2018 by jerryking
When biased data holds a potentially deadly flaw
SEPTEMBER 27, 2017 | FT | Madhumita Murgia.

Researchers at scientific journal Nature said findings from its own investigation on the diversity of these data sets “prompted warnings that a much broader range of populations should be investigated to avoid genomic medicine being of benefit merely to ‘a privileged few’ ”.

This insidious data prejudice made me curious about other unintended biases in the tech world. Several new consumer technologies — often conceived by, built by and tested overwhelmingly on Caucasian males — are flawed due to biases in their design.
massive_data_sets  biases  data  data_driven  unintended_consequences  racial_disparities  algorithms  value_judgements 
january 2018 by jerryking
The Six Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know WSJ
Nov. 26, 2017 | WSJ |By Christopher Mims.

1. ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’ Melvin Kranzberg in the 1960s. He became a technology historian. Prof. Kranzberg’s first law is also his most important. He realized that the impact of a technology depends on its geographic and cultural context, which means it is often good and bad—at the same time. (E.g. DDT, a pesticide and probable carcinogen nonetheless saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in India as a cheap and effective malaria prevention. Or, Facebook groups, serve as a lifeline for parents of children with rare diseases while also radicalizing political extremists. Tech companies' enormous power means they have an obligation to try to anticipate the potential impact of anything they produce.....however, the dirty little secret of highly accomplished people is what we’ve had to neglect to achieve that,” (JK: tradeoffs) “To become spectacular at any discipline in technology means you’re not well-equipped to address these questions.”

2. ‘Invention is the mother of necessity.’ Yes, that’s backward from the way you remember it. It means “every technical innovation seems to require additional technical advances in order to make it fully effective,” In our modern world, the invention of the smartphone has led to the necessity for countless other technologies, from phone cases to 5G wireless. Apple’s cure for staring at your phone too much? A smartwatch to glance at 100 times a day.

3. ‘Technology comes in packages, big and small. To understand any part of a technological package requires looking at its interaction with and dependency on the rest of it—including the human beings essential to how it functions. While innovation destroys jobs, it also creates countless new ones.

4. ‘Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.’ “People think technology as an abstraction has some sort of intrinsic power, and it doesn’t,” “It has to be motivated by political power or cultural power or something else.”

Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president, software engineering, spoke about differential privacy, which Apple says is a way to collect user data while protecting the individual’s anonymity.
More broadly, lawmakers are taking an interest in everything from privacy and data transparency to national security and antitrust issues in tech—more because of a shift in our culture than in the technology itself.

5. ‘All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.’ The Cold War led to the buildup of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them anywhere on Earth. That led to the development of a war-proof communication system: the internet..... But does that mean we owe the modern world to the existential contest between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R.? Or was that conflict itself driven by previous technological developments that allowed Hitler to threaten both nations?

6. ‘Technology is a very human activity.’ “Technology is capable of doing great things,” .....how we use technology is up to us. The trick is, because technology generally reaches mass adoption via corporations, those businesses must think of the consequences of their actions as well as how they profit from them. When corporations don’t, regulators, journalists and the public sometimes do it for them.

As Prof. Kranzberg presciently noted at the dawn of the internet age, “Many of our technology-related problems arise because of the unforeseen consequences when apparently benign technologies are employed on a massive scale.”
anonymity  anticipating  Christopher_Mims  Cold_War  contextual  cultural_power  high-achieving  necessity  nuclear  overachievers  political_power  privacy  problems  scaling  technology  tradeoffs  unforeseen  unintended_consequences 
november 2017 by jerryking
Donald Trump’s unwitting surrender to China
November 22, 2017 | FT | Edward Luce.

If you want to read a nation’s priorities, look at its budget. Mr Trump’s main ambition is to cut the US corporate tax rate to 20 per cent. During Eisenhower’s time, the marginal income tax rate was above 90 per cent. That did not stop US public and private ingenuity from racing ahead of the Soviets. Today America is the world’s technological leader. With Mr Trump in the cockpit, tomorrow may look very different.
Edward_Luce  China  China_rising  America_in_Decline?  ingenuity  artificial_intelligence  Sputnik  space_warfare  unintended_consequences 
november 2017 by jerryking
Unintended Consequences of Sexual Harassment Scandals
OCT. 9, 2017 | The New York Times | Claire Cain Miller @clairecm.

In Silicon Valley, some male investors have declined one-on-one meetings with women, or rescheduled them from restaurants to conference rooms. On Wall Street, certain senior men have tried to avoid closed-door meetings with junior women. And in TV news, some male executives have scrupulously minded their words in conversations with female talent.

An unintended consequence of a season of sex scandals, men describe a heightened caution because of recent sexual harassment cases, and they worry that one accusation, or misunderstood comment, could end their careers. But their actions affect women’s careers, too — potentially depriving them of the kind of relationships that lead to promotions or investments. This is because building genuine relationships with senior people is perhaps the most important contributor to career advancement. In some offices it’s known as having a rabbi; researchers call it sponsorship. Unlike mentors, who give advice and are often formally assigned, sponsors know and respect people enough that they are willing to find opportunities for them, and advocate and fight for them.....sponsors “have to spend some capital and take a risk on the up-and-coming person, and you simply don’t do that unless you know them and trust them.” But these relationships are crucial, she said, for “getting from the middle to the top.”
sponsorships  Claire_Cain_Miller  entertainment_industry  women  venture_capital  Silicon_Valley  Fox_News  mentoring  sexual_harassment  reputational_risk  workplaces  unintended_consequences  political_capital  gender_gap  personal_risk  relationships  deprivations 
october 2017 by jerryking
‘Locking Up Our Own,’ What Led to Mass Incarceration of Black Men - The New York Times
By JENNIFER SENIOR APRIL 11, 2017

LOCKING UP OUR OWN
Crime and Punishment in Black America
By James Forman Jr.
Illustrated. 306 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $27

Part of the power of “Locking Up Our Own” is that it’s about Washington — not the swamp of deceit merchants and influence-peddlers that Donald J. Trump promised to drain, but a majority-black city that hundreds of thousands call home, regardless of whose bum is in the Oval Office. Washington only first got the chance to elect its own mayor and city council in 1975, and the city’s coming-of-age story — and the challenges it faced — in some ways mirrored that of other cities with large African-American populations, like Atlanta and Detroit.

“Locking Up Our Own” is also very poignantly a book of the Obama era, when black authors like Alexander and Bryan Stevenson and Ta-Nehisi Coates initiated difficult conversations about racial justice and inequality, believing that their arguments might, for once, gain more meaningful traction. (Often, in fact, they said things the president, burdened with the duty to represent everyone, might not have felt free to say himself.......Forman does not minimize the influence of racism on mass incarceration. And he takes great pains to emphasize that African-Americans almost inevitably agitated for more than just law-enforcement solutions to the problems facing their neighborhoods — they argued for job and housing programs, improvements in education. But their timing in stumping for social programs was terrible. “Such efforts had become an object of ridicule by 1975, a symbol of the hopeless naïveté of 1960s liberalism,” Forman writes.

One result: A wide range of African-American leaders championed tougher penalties for drug crimes and gun possession in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. It was the one option they consistently had, and it seemed a perfectly responsible, moral position. Wasn’t the safety of black law-abiding citizens a basic civil right?
mass_incarceration  African-Americans  men  books  book_reviews  penalties  prisons  unintended_consequences  criminal_justice_system  difficult_conversations 
april 2017 by jerryking
In Nigeria, Chinese Investment Comes With a Downside - The New York Times
By KEITH BRADSHER and ADAM NOSSITERDEC. 5, 2015

shoddy or counterfeit products are a national problem in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, where impoverished consumers have few alternatives. Some shoddy goods are benign, like the Chinese-made shirts, trousers and dresses with uneven stitching and stray threads that fill street markets. But electrical wiring, outlets and power strips from China, ubiquitous in new homes and offices, are connected to dozens of fires a year in Lagos alone.
China  Africa  Nigeria  copycats  counterfeits  manufacturers  quality  hazards  Chinese  unintended_consequences 
december 2015 by jerryking
2014’s lessons for leaders: Don’t make assumptions, do make hard decisions - The Globe and Mail
BOB RAE
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Dec. 26 2014,

Life has a way of lifting you by the lapels and giving you a good shake. Stuff happens, and when it does, it can throw all the steady paths predicted by pundits, pollsters and economic forecasters into the trash heap....Canadians are fixated on who the winners and losers of the "where will oil prices head" game ...but we need to lift our heads a bit. Russia’s falling ruble and the debt crisis of its elites and their companies have rightly grabbed headlines. But a couple of countries, notably Nigeria and Venezuela, are now in political crisis, and their very stability is at risk in the days ahead.

One of the implications of the 2008 world economic crisis is that regional and world institutions have much less room to manoeuvre and help sort things out. it will be harder for those agencies (EU, IMF) to do as much as is required. Stability doesn’t come cheap....a healthy dose of reality and skepticism is always a good idea. In a useful piece of advice, Rudyard Kipling reminded us that triumph and disaster are both imposters. People draw too many conclusions from current trends. They fail to understand that those trends can change. And that above all, they forget that events can get in the way....One clear lesson is for leaders everywhere to learn the importance of listening and engagement. The path to resolution of even the thorniest of problems...involves less rhetoric and bluster and a greater capacity to understand underlying interests and grievances. ... Engagement should never mean appeasement.
Bob_Rae  pundits  decision_making  leaders  unintended_consequences  predictions  WWI  humility  Toronto  traffic_congestion  crisis  instability  listening  engagement  unpredictability  Rudyard_Kipling  petro-politics  imposters  short-sightedness  amnesia_bias  interests  grievances  appeasement  hard_choices 
december 2014 by jerryking
With Islamic State, the chickens come home to roost - The Globe and Mail
LYSIANE GAGNON
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Sep. 03 2014
al-Qaeda  ISIS  Iraq  Libya  Syria  unintended_consequences 
september 2014 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
Chrystia Freeland | Analysis & Opinion
May 23, 2013 | | Reuters.com |By Chrystia Freeland.

Daron Acemoglu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and James Robinson of Harvard University.

In their seminal 2012 book, “Why Nations Fail,” Acemoglu and Robinson offered a powerful new framework for understanding why some societies thrive and others decline – those based on inclusive growth succeed, while those where growth is extractive wither.

Their new study, “Economics Versus Politics: Pitfalls of Policy Advice,” will be published later this year in the Journal of Economic Perspectives and is available now in draft form as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. It tackles an essential subject in the age of technocracy: the limits of technocratic thinking as a basis for policy.

Their critique is not the standard technocrat’s lament that wise policy is, alas, politically impossible to implement. Instead, their concern is that policy which is eminently sensible in theory can fail in practice because of its unintended political consequences.
Chrystia_Freeland  books  economists  unintended_consequences  failed_states  Non-Integrating_Gap  policymakers  policymaking 
may 2013 by jerryking
Is your wardrobe killing Bangladeshis, or saving them? - The Globe and Mail
Apr. 27 2013 |The Globe and Mail | DOUG SAUNDERS.

1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, in which 146 Jewish and Italian immigrants, many under 18, roasted or plunged to their deaths after the owner of the Manhattan clothing factory ignored fire-safety warnings and locked workers inside...led to a changing of the shape of North American cities, factories and working lives: It’s the reason why fire-escape stairs and sprinklers are now ubiquitous; it’s also part of the reason why blue-collar wages, working conditions and child-labour laws improved in the decades that followed, creating the last great period of upward mobility.

There’s good reason to hope for a similar transformation in Bangladesh – especially if consumers demand high standards from their brands, as they have done with considerable success in China.

Garment-factory w orkers in Bangladesh, China, India, Mexico and other corners of the developing world are not victims. They have sought out this work, and they want to be agents of their own fate. They often get a raw deal, but they’re enduring these jobs because the jobs are an improvement over any other alternative – and their engagement with the West’s consumer markets can be the vehicle to greater empowerment.
Doug_Saunders  Bangladesh  Loblaws  exploitation  apparel  unintended_consequences  workplaces  safety  developing_countries 
may 2013 by jerryking
Bar is high for Carney on world stage
Apr. 18 2013| The Globe and Mail |CHRYSTIA FREELAND.

One of the analytical mistakes made before the financial crisis was to believe that efficient markets were perfect and that private bankers could police themselves. Refreshingly, Mr. Carney isn’t making the same error in reverse. He is a believer in regulation and has embraced it at its most complex, global, scale.

But he said regulators need to be watchful of the unintended consequences of their rules and mindful of the feedback loops between their actions and private markets. The relationship between markets and governments is a complicated process that requires eternal vigilance and constant tweaks.
Chrystia_Freeland  Mark_Carney  central_banking  central_banks  regulators  feedback_loops  unintended_consequences  world_stage 
april 2013 by jerryking
The Unraveling of Affirmative Action - WSJ.com
October 13, 2012, 6:14 p.m. ET

The Unraveling of Affirmative Action
Racial preferences spring from worthy intentions, but they have had unintended consequences—including an academic mismatch in many cases between minority students and the schools to which they are admitted. There's a better way to help the disadvantaged.

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By RICHARD SANDER and STUART TAYLOR JR.
affirmative_action  books  Colleges_&_Universities  African-Americans  mismatches  unintended_consequences 
october 2012 by jerryking
The Weakest Link
November 30, 2006 |Strategy + Business | by Nicholas G. Carr.

A product’s vulnerabilities can point the way to lucrative new business opportunities.

As John Campbell pointed out in a 1996 article in the journal of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the landing gear of the early 1930s, before the O-ring was introduced, is an example of a “reverse salient.” That odd term has its origins in descriptions of warfare, where it refers to a section of an advancing military force that has fallen behind the rest of the front. This section is typically the point of weakness in an attack, the lagging element that prevents the rest of the force from accomplishing its mission. Until the reverse salient is corrected, an army’s progress comes to a halt.

Historian Thomas P. Hughes was the first to apply the term to the realm of technological innovation. As described in his book Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880–1930 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), a reverse salient often forms as a complex technological system advances: “As the system evolves toward a goal, some components fall behind or out of line. As a result of the reverse salient, growth of the entire enterprise is hampered, or thwarted, and thus remedial action is required.” In technological advance as in warfare, the reverse salient is the weak link that impedes progress.
Nicholas_Carr  problem_solving  unintended_consequences  shortcomings  limitations  vulnerabilities  revenge_effects  new_businesses  weak_links 
july 2012 by jerryking
Unforeseen consequences - FT.com
May 24, 2007 | Financial Times |By Robert Matthews.

The Germans have a word for it: Schlimmbesserung - literally, a "worse improvement". You may not recognise the word, but you'll know plenty of examples of what it means: efficiency drives that reduce efficiency, cost-cutting measures that prove punitively expensive, software upgrades that cause months of downtime.

All businesses can fall victim to such "revenge effects"....

Edward Tenner, a visiting scholar in the department of history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Why Things Bite Back, the classic study of the phenomenon first published in 1996, believes there are several measures that businesses can take. Indeed, he has given lectures at Microsoft, Intel and AT&T on the subject.

Ensuring there is in-house expertise that can spot emerging revenge effects and deal with the consequences is crucial, Mr Tenner says. "Many companies fail to deal with revenge effects because they are 'outsourcing their brains'," he says. "Lean organisations are supposed to be more flexible, but they may also be giving up a lot of their capability to respond to change."

According to Mr Tenner, businesses can keep a constant watch for reports of potential revenge effects in news and research findings. This has never been easier, thanks to online tools such as Google news alerts and RSS (really simple syndication) feeds.

Even so, revenge effects have a nasty habit of affecting businesses in unexpected ways. "The precondition of vigilance is the selection and development of ability at all levels,"

thinking about the downside to new developments can save a lot of heartache. "Excessive optimism risks revenge effects," he says. "You have to be prepared to work in Murphy's Law mode - and to consider that every possible thing that can go wrong will go wrong."
unintended_consequences  books  limitations  in-house  specificity  outsourcing  unexpected  revenge_effects  Murphy's_Law  thinking_tragically  lean  adaptability  flexibility  responsiveness  change  downtime 
june 2012 by jerryking
Road to Nowhere - New York Times
By DAVID BROOKS
January 1, 2008

...And yet as any true conservative can tell you, the sort of rational planning Mitt Romney embodies never works. The world is too complicated and human reason too limited. The PowerPoint mentality always fails to anticipate something. It always yields unintended consequences.

And what Romney failed to anticipate is this: In turning himself into an old-fashioned, orthodox Republican, he has made himself unelectable in the fall. When you look inside his numbers, you see tremendous weaknesses.

For example, Romney is astoundingly unpopular among young voters....But his biggest problem is a failure of imagination [jk: unimaginative]. Market research is a snapshot of the past. With his data-set mentality, Romney has chosen to model himself on a version of Republicanism that is receding into memory. As Walter Mondale was the last gasp of the fading New Deal coalition, Romney has turned himself into the last gasp of the Reagan coalition.

That coalition had its day, but it is shrinking now....The leaders of the Republican coalition know Romney will lose. But some would rather remain in control of a party that loses than lose control of a party that wins. Others haven’t yet suffered the agony of defeat, and so are not yet emotionally ready for the trauma of transformation. Others still simply don’t know which way to turn.

And so the burden of change will be thrust on primary voters over the next few weeks. Romney is a decent man with some good fiscal and economic policies. But in this race, he has run like a manager, not an entrepreneur....
David_Brooks  Mitt_Romney  Campaign_2008  anticipating  unimaginative  unintended_consequences  imagination  Reagan_coalition  rational_irrationality  mental_models  messiness 
june 2012 by jerryking
Romney’s Former Bain Partner Makes a Case for Inequality - NYTimes.com
By ADAM DAVIDSON
Published: May 1, 2012

“Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong,

Now we’re at a particularly crucial moment, he writes. Technology and global competition have made it more important than ever that the United States remain the world’s most productive, risk-taking, success-rewarding society. Obama, Conard says, is “going to dampen the incentives.” Even worse, Conard says, “he’s slowing the accumulation of equity” by fighting income inequality. Only with a pro-investment president, he says, can the American economy reach its full potential.
high_net_worth  Bain  inequality  Mitt_Romney  books  innovation  unintended_consequences  incentives  income_inequality  Occupy_Wall_Street 
may 2012 by jerryking
Nicholas Carr on E-Books - WSJ.com
DECEMBER 31, 2011 |WSJ | By NICHOLAS CARR

Books That Are Never Done Being Written
Digital text is ushering in an era of perpetual revision and updating, for better and for worse.

As electronic books push paper ones aside, movable type seems fated to be replaced by movable text.

That's an attractive development in many ways. It makes it easy for writers to correct errors and update facts. Guidebooks will no longer send travelers to restaurants that have closed or to once charming inns that have turned into fleabags. The instructions in manuals will always be accurate. Reference books need never go out of date.

Even literary authors will be tempted to keep their works fresh. Historians and biographers will be able to revise their narratives to account for recent events or newly discovered documents. Polemicists will be able to bolster their arguments with new evidence. Novelists will be able to scrub away the little anachronisms that can make even a recently published story feel dated.

But as is often the case with digitization, the boon carries a bane. The ability to alter the contents of a book will be easy to abuse. School boards may come to exert even greater influence over what students read. They'll be able to edit textbooks that don't fit with local biases. Authoritarian governments will be able to tweak books to suit their political interests. And the edits can ripple backward. Because e-readers connect to the Internet, the works they contain can be revised remotely, just as software programs are updated today. Movable text makes a lousy preservative.

Such abuses can be prevented through laws and software protocols. What may be more insidious is the pressure to fiddle with books for commercial reasons. Because e-readers gather enormously detailed information on the way people read, publishers may soon be awash in market research. They'll know how quickly readers progress through different chapters, when they skip pages, and when they abandon a book.
Nicholas_Carr  e-books  digital_media  shortcomings  protocols  unintended_consequences  abuses  digitalization  market_research  publishing  dark_side 
january 2012 by jerryking
Essays on the unexpected consequences of 9/11 - The Globe and Mail
Sep. 10, 2011 | Globe and Mail | graydon carter, margaret macmillan, stephen clarkson, janice gross stein AND bill graham
9/11  commemoration  Janice_Gross_Stein  Margaret_MacMILLAN  unexpected  unintended_consequences 
september 2011 by jerryking
Instant Communication Can Have Bad Consequences — Letters to the editor - WSJ.com
APRIL 9, 2011.
During the American Civil War, Charles Wilkes, a Union naval officer,
broke international law by capturing two Confederate diplomats en route
to Europe on a neutral British ship, the Trent. Adams observed: "When we
so pride ourselves on what we consider the self-evident value of modern
inventions, we may be given pause when we realize that, had there been a
submarine cable in 1861, it is almost certain that England and the
North would have been at war that December. As it was, the slowness of
communication gave both sides time to think, and allowed [Secretary of
State William H.] Seward in America and [Lords] Palmerston and Russell
in England . . . to guide the situation."

"The slowness of communication" is a phrase to savor. Today it is
assumed that speed of communication is an absolute virtue. Combining
speed with a lack of context, electronic media radically undermine
reflection and criticism. We live in a sea of thoughtlessness, informing
ourselves to death.
Communicating_&_Connecting  Peggy_Noonan  power_of_the_pause  letters_to_the_editor  Civil_War  reflections  immediacy  contextual  timeouts  real-time  latency  unintended_consequences  revenge_effects  thinking_deliberatively 
april 2011 by jerryking
FT.com / Comment / Op-Ed Columnists - And the magic word is ...
October 29 2010 | Financial Times | By Gillian Tett.
Innovation can be a powerful totem pole but it is not a magic wand. The
spirit of Google alone cannot “Reboot America!” overnight. That will
require a long, hard slog from politicians and voters alike; it won’t be
glamorous....in practical terms, many innovations have had a dark side.
Innovations in oil exploration have cut the price of oil; but they have
also polluted the Gulf. Meanwhile financial creativity has fuelled the
credit crisis
innovation  Tina_Brown  contradictions  financial_creativity  unintended_consequences  Gillian_Tett  revenge_effects  dark_side 
october 2010 by jerryking
Hezbollah as 'a hot cell for innovation'Why our intentions 'don't just fail, they backfire'
Apr 19, 2009 | Toronto Star | Lynda Hurst.

we're still using anachronistic ideas to hold together a global order that no longer exists. A revolution is in progress where the unthinkable all too readily becomes the inevitable.

The result? More – and more dangerous – reversals of intent and outcome.

"What's happening today is that our intentions don't just fail, they backfire on us," says the Beijing-based geo-strategy analyst. "We deliver the opposite of what we intend because we so misunderstand the way the system now works."

The "war on terrorism" creates even more terrorists. The attempt to build a risk-proof financial system produces more risks than anyone is able to foresee. The bid to spread capitalism across the globe widens the chasm between rich and poor. The effort to contain nuclear proliferation leads to rogue states such as North Korea and Iran playing gimme-gimme games (or maybe not) with the final option.

Think Mikhail Gorbachev setting out only to reform the Soviet Union, but instead triggering its downfall, which in turn leads the U.S. to conclude its values have won the Cold War. Not so, Ramo says. Or George W. Bush reckoning he can inject democracy into Iraq and, presto, out comes peace: "Absurd in the extreme."

The new rules are
still being formed. They will be based on one central premise: countless
variations in the scheme of things will continue to occur at warp
speed, and adapting to them equally as quickly will be crucial. The
unpredictable demands of constant newness can immobilize institutions,
however, not just individuals. It can blind them to unsprung traps,
freeze once-honed navigation skills. The structure of the U.S. State
Department has barely changed since the end of World War II.

Governments can't prepare for everything in the future, but they can
build resilience into their systems. Real power will be the ability to
come back strong after an unexpected shock. That will mean persistently
assessing the big picture, not just its component pieces.
new_normal  uncertainty  Joshua_Cooper_Ramo  geopolitics  unpredictability  resilience  21st._century  adaptability  managing_uncertainty  Hezbollah  unintended_consequences  unexpected  political_power  accelerated_lifecycles  U.S._State_Department  immobilize  paralyze  constant_change  revenge_effects  rogue_actors  unthinkable  misunderstandings  Cambrian_explosion  iterations  Octothorpe_Software  Mikhail_Gorbachev  the_big_picture  warp_speed  financial_system 
may 2009 by jerryking

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