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Model Metropolis
Looking to understand how real cities worked, Wright came across a 1969 book by Jay Forrester called Urban Dynamics. Forrester was an electrical engineer who had launched a second career as an expert on computer simulation; Urban Dynamics deployed his simulation methodology to offer a controversial theory of how cities grew and declined. Wright used Forrester’s theories to transform the cities he was designing in his level editor from static maps of buildings and roads into vibrant models of a growing metropolis. Eventually, Wright became convinced that his “guinea-pig city” was an entertaining, open-ended video game. Released in 1989, the game became wildly popular, selling millions of copies, winning dozens of awards, and spawning an entire franchise of successors and dozens of imitators. It was called SimCity.
research 
1 hour ago
Khan Academy aims to invert labour pyramid with education for all: Salman Khan
Society faces an important existential question: how will we create a more utopian world with the introduction of AI and robotics? We have faced these inflection points before with the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. In future, access to a world-class education for anyone, anywhere is a must have.

Instead of having a traditional labour pyramid—with a few entrepreneurs and a creative class on top and a large labour class at the bottom—Khan Academy hopes to invert that pyramid by providing more access to education so that the most number of people are at the top of the pyramid, and these are the people who can contribute to society in meaningful ways.
moocs 
14 hours ago
Adorno in America — Crooked Timber
100a

But as Oberle shows, the actual approach of The Authoritarian Personality was light years away—and ahead!—of our current approaches. Too often today, the discussion around authoritarianism in the US devolves into a set of easy oppositions. There is a part of the country, the coasts, that is enlightened, tolerant, open to diversity, and opposed to racism and misogyny. Then there is the benighted part of the country—the proverbial white working class, who are thought to be located in the Upper Midwest, Appalachia, and the South—that is psychologically disposed to the opposite values: ignorance, fake news, racism, misogyny, nativism, and parochialism. It’s like a parody of the Enlightenment that Rousseau would rise up and roar against, where moral values and intellectual typologies become the markers of greater and lesser civilization.

The Authoritarian Personality, by contrast, was inspired by the dialectician’s belief in what Oberle calls, in a luminous phrase, “the shortest distance between norm and extreme.” Where much of the dominant social psychology of the time (and this would increase during the Cold War) set up a contrast between the normal, adaptive, humane, egalitarian ethos of democracy and the pathological, maladaptive, domineering ethos of authoritarianism, Adorno and his
teaching  polarization 
14 hours ago
State of chassis — Crooked Timber
100j

Stross’s vision of the near future isn’t as stylized as, say, William Gibson’s or Neal Stephenson’s. Nor does it involve the mixture of worries and individualist wish-fulfilment that, say, Vernor Vinge’s Rainbow’s End does. Instead, he presents a world which is (if it’s possible) even more muddy and complicated than the one we inhabit today. I have no doubt whatsoever that this book should have won the Hugo a couple of months ago (not that I begrudge Michael Chabon, but TYPU wasn’t his best book by a fair stretch). It sketches out a new way of thinking about SF that I suspect will be far more influential in the future than self-conscious movements like Ryman’s Mundanes. Rather than engaging with the futures of the past (as lots of SF today does, it tries to set out the futures of the present, engaging with a bristlingly complex set of social developments and reaching out to a new set of readers who are embedded in SFnal media products but rarely read SF (an entirely separate essay could be written on the new ways that HS tries to engage with readers). I think that this is the first genuinely successful SFnal take on the social changes that we’re facing into – not, of course, because it is going to be right – but because it takes some of the core dilemmas of an IT based society, plays with them and extrapolates them in ways that challenge our basic understanding of politics in a networked society. About two thirds of the way through reading this book, my mind was completely blown, in a good way. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
teaching 
17 hours ago
It’s about Time: Adaptive Resource Management, Environmental Governance, and Science Studies - Kristoffer Whitney, 2019
This article examines adaptive resource management (ARM) as it has been applied to the US horseshoe crab fishery over the past decade. As a critical yet constructive exercise, I have three goals: to suggest how adaptive management, for all its promise, can still be improved; to add a nuanced case study to the literatures on the quantification of nature and environmental decision-making; and to use the example of ARM to make certain temporal aspects of contemporary natural resource management more salient to science and technology studies scholars—that is, to show the ways in which time matters in environmental science, policy, and the analysis thereof. I draw attention to the time-related aspects of adaptive management by developing the notions of temporal orientation and chronological accountability. Temporal orientation refers to the time-based perspectives and epistemological commitments—that is, past-facing empiricism versus future-oriented modeling—that scientists of different types bring to bear on environmental problems. Chronological accountability refers to the missing link in adaptive forms of environmental governance: firm time lines and commitments to reflexively revisit management decisions. The time-related aspects of natural resource management deserve greater
research 
18 hours ago
Boundary-work that Does Not Work: Social Inequalities and the Non-performativity of Scientific Boundary-work - Maria do Mar Pereira, 2019
Abstract
Although the STS literature on boundary-work recognizes that such work unfolds within a “terrain of uneven advantage” vis-à-vis gender, race, and other inequalities, reflection about that uneven advantage has been strikingly underdeveloped. This article calls for a retheorizing of boundary-work that engages more actively with feminist, critical race, and postcolonial scholarship and examines more systematically the relation between scientific boundary-work, broader structures of sociopolitical inequality, and boundary-workers’ (embodied) positionality. To demonstrate the need for this retheorization, I analyze ethnographic and interview data on scientific boundary-work in the natural and social sciences in Portugal, showing that scholars’ gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and nationality affect the success of their boundary-work. I suggest, therefore, that in unequal societies where credibility is unevenly distributed, the conditions are not in place for some scholars’ boundary-work to work. I draw on Sara Ahmed (and J. L. Austin) to argue that we must conceptualize scientific boundary-work as always potentially performative, but not always successfully so, and explicitly interrogate the actual conditions of performativity. Recognizing the links between inequality, embodiment, and non-performativity in scientific boundary-work will enable STS to better understand, and hopefully transform, the relations between contingent struggles over scientificity and entrenched structures of power.
research 
18 hours ago
The Digital Architecture of Time Management - Judy Wajcman, 2019
This article explores how the shift from print to electronic calendars materializes and exacerbates a distinctively quantitative, “spreadsheet” orientation to time. Drawing on interviews with engineers, I argue that calendaring systems are emblematic of a larger design rationale in Silicon Valley to mechanize human thought and action in order to make them more efficient and reliable. The belief that technology can be profitably employed to control and manage time has a long history and continues to animate contemporary sociotechnical imaginaries of what automation will deliver. In the current moment we live in the age of the algorithm and machine learning, so it is no wonder, then, that the contemporary design of digital calendars is driven by a vision of intelligent time management. As I go on to show in the second part of the article, this vision is increasingly realized in the form of intelligent digital assistants whose tracking capacities and behavioral algorithms aim to solve life’s existential problem—how best to organize the time of our lives. This article contributes to STS scholarship on the role of technological artifacts in generating new temporalities that shape people’s perception of time, how they act in the world, and how they understand themselves.
research 
18 hours ago
Gods, AIs, and Mormon Transhumanism | Platypus
Mormon Transhumanists have picked up on this problem as well. In a 2015 MTA Conference, this problem was used as an example by a board member during a presentation; specifically contrasting Benek’s discussion with Kurzweil’s discussion of sex with virtual celebrities, the board member used Benek’s analysis as an example of what kind of critical contribution religious transhumanism could make to discussions of transhumanist ethics; after the talks, this same example was brought up multiple times by MTA members in later public discussions that day, including by the then-president of the association. But each time it was brought up, the point was brought up in a different way than Benek originally posited. The focus was not the damage to us humans, but the way that this use of virtual celebrities violated the agency of these intelligences; “this,” one of the close-to-founding MTA members said, “is what Silicon Valley cannot grasp.” Specifically, what was escaping Silicon Valley was the moral obligation to a potentially sentient virtual figure, even if they were virtual figures used just for pleasure.
research 
18 hours ago
How OnlyFans Changed Sex Work Forever - The New York Times
In 2011, Ms. Harwood worked for a soft-core site called GlamGirls and became friendly with its owner, Tim Stokely, an earnest technocrat who looks like Mark Zuckerberg by way of Savile Row. Soon after, Mr. Stokely founded a site called Customs4U, which Ms. Harwood said, lightheartedly, may have been her idea and was like OnlyFans in beta.

The pitch was to offer horny guys the ability to become their own directors, ordering specially made videos from their favorite models.

It sputtered along while Instagram — which is free and doesn’t allow full nudity — took off. Then Mr. Stokely had his light bulb moment: Why not find a way for influencers to directly monetize their content. The platform — OnlyFans — would be similar to Instagram or Twitter except fans would have to pay a monthly subscription to view influencers’ content and interact with them.

It would therefore be a natural bolt-on to the influencer’s existing social media. A free feed on Instagram or Twitter could promote and drive traffic to the subscription-only feed on OnlyFans.
teaching  platformization 
18 hours ago
Opinion | When Judges Defy the Supreme Court - The New York Times
No, I wasn’t surprised last week, as most people apparently were, when Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding fifth vote to preserve access to abortion in Louisiana for at least a little while longer. In fact, I had predicted it (and I have witnesses).

Why? Not because I think the chief justice has developed a soft spot in his heart for the right to abortion. He has not. Not because he wants to minimize the Supreme Court’s role as a combatant in the culture wars. I think he does, but that’s not the point.

Rather, circumstances compelled the chief justice to stand up to a stunning act of judicial defiance.

The phrase summons the image of Gov. George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door. What Chief Justice Roberts had on his hands was something less tangible but equally threatening to the rule of law: not defiance of judges but defiance by judges.
polarization 
yesterday
Supposedly ‘Fair’ Algorithms Can Perpetuate Discrimination | WIRED
Overview of actuarial fairness and its history. 100j. Use with algorithms.
Teaching 
yesterday
Equifax mystery: Where is the data?
If this leading theory is right, the only people who needed to worry about Equifax breach were people in sensitive government positions or with lots of access, influence and power: future senators, overseas CIA officers, people who oversee U.S. corporate data centers or senior financial executives of technology companies, for instance.

The fevered advertisements that urged consumers to check whether their data had been compromised and take numerous steps to freeze it and monitor it turns out to have been unnecessary for this breach -- at least so far.

100j
Teaching 
2 days ago
Howard Schultz’s CNN town hall revealed the emptiness of elite centrism
Schultz is considering a run as an ideological entrepreneur, an independent who would bring a new set of ideas into American politics. That would be really hard even if he had a new set of ideas to offer: There are deep structural reasons for the party duopoly, with both the setup of America’s electoral system and powerful interest groups supporting the status quo. Political polarization has sorted most Americans into one of the two political parties, with the number of true independents vanishingly small. It would be very, very difficult to dislodge this system even if you had popular ideas to offer.

Trump succeeded as a billionaire politician because he found a seam in the Republican coalition — the party’s primary voters were crying out for a more nakedly racial politics — and exploited it. But he didn’t run as an independent: After winning the primary, he enjoyed the backing of a major party, and won primarily thanks to support from Republican partisans.

Schultz, in this respect, compares unfavorably to the president. He has none of Trump’s dark charisma and none of his political instincts for what’s popular. He has a set of ideas that seem obvious to him and a small number of people like him but have no grounding in an American intellectual tradition or mass politics. The result is an embarrassing night on national television — one that should cause Schultz to rethink what he’s doing.
polarization 
2 days ago
Social Life as Bootstrapped Induction - Barry Barnes, 1983
100a

How people refer and how they infer are key empirical questions for the sociology of knowledge. In the present paper, I suggest that in the course of social interaction much referring activity is self-referring, and much inference self-validating. This occurs to the extent that our inductive inferences become permeated with feedback-loops or `bootstraps': I offer a simple general form of representation to assist in thinking about bootstrapped induction. In the second half of the paper I indicate some of the interesting consequences of the existence of bootstrapped induction: I cite the self-fulfilling prophesy as a special case where the induction is destructive, but emphasize the role of bootstrapped induction in constituting stable institutional forms. Finally I raise the question as to how far the bootstraps can be eliminated from patterns of inference: I suggest that this problem might be best attacked by sociologists of natural science.
research  Teaching 
2 days ago
Technoscience Rent: Toward a Theory of Rentiership for Technoscientific Capitalism - Kean Birch, 2019
Contemporary, technoscientific capitalism is characterized by the (re)configuration of a range of “things” (e.g., infrastructure, data, knowledge, bodies) as assets or capitalized property. Accumulation strategies have changed as a result of this assetization process. Rather than entrepreneurial strategies based on commodity production, technoscientific capitalism is increasingly underpinned by rentiership or the appropriation of value through ownership and control rights (e.g., intellectual property [IP]), monopoly conditions, and regulatory or market devices and practices (e.g., investment dispute courts, exclusivity agreements). While rentiership is often presented as a negative phenomenon (e.g., distorting markets, unearned income) in both neoclassical and Marxist political economy literatures—and much in between—in this paper, I conceptualize rentiership as a technoeconomic practice and process framed by insights from science and technology studies (STS). So, rather than a problematic “side effect” of capitalism, the concept of rentiership enables us to understand how different forms of value extraction constitute, and are constituted by, different forms of technoscience. This allows STS to contribute a distinctive analytical approach to ongoing debates in political economy about%2
research  neoliberalism 
4 days ago
An unnatural split: how ‘human interest’ sucks the life from significant news - Perry Parks, 2019
Human interest might be considered the earliest of the news values, and in the past century, it has been the most flexible, allowing journalists to report and present compelling stories that lie outside more formal news definitions. In this historical and longitudinal analysis of 75 journalism textbooks from 1894 to 2016, I argue that human interest has also been a central enforcement tool for the dichotomy between emotional ‘feature’ stories and rational ‘news’ content – a dichotomy that developed in service of the modern journalistic tenet of objectivity. Whereas news and human interest were nearly synonymous in turn-of-the-20th-century textbooks, the two concepts were soon separated to facilitate the erasure of feeling and emotion from the most significant news events of the day. A key implication of this historical rupture is a century of public affairs news that holds citizens at arm’s length, contributing to widespread detachment from the workings of government and disengagement from civic affairs.
journalism  objectivity 
4 days ago
The MOOC pivot | Science
Summary
When massive open online courses (MOOCs) first captured global attention in 2012, advocates imagined a disruptive transformation in postsecondary education. Video lectures from the world's best professors could be broadcast to the farthest reaches of the networked world, and students could demonstrate proficiency using innovative computer-graded assessments, even in places with limited access to traditional education. But after promising a reordering of higher education, we see the field instead coalescing around a different, much older business model: helping universities outsource their online master's degrees for professionals (1). To better understand the reasons for this shift, we highlight three patterns emerging from data on MOOCs provided by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) via the edX platform: The vast majority of MOOC learners never return after their first year, the growth in MOOC participation has been concentrated almost entirely in the world's most affluent countries, and the bane of MOOCs—low completion rates (2)—has not improved over 6 years.
moocs 
4 days ago
Anglo-American development, the Euromarkets, and the deeper origins of neoliberal deregulation | Review of International Studies | Cambridge Core
Anglo-American development, the Euromarkets, and the deeper origins of neoliberal deregulation
Jeremy Green
https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210515000480
Published online: 17 December 2015
Abstract
This article challenges existing accounts of the development of the Euromarkets by arguing that their emergence constituted the foundational moment in the advent of a postwar Anglo-American developmental field. The account contends the notion of a postwar order shaped predominantly by the outward expansion of American financial power, by deprivileging the exclusivity of American power and arguing that co-constitutive Anglo-American developmental processes were the generative force that produced the Euromarkets. Drawing upon new archival material, the article suggests that an Anglo-American developmental sphere, in which Britain continued to play a crucial but subordinate role, was key to the unfolding of postwar financial globalisation. The Anglo-American developmental processes occasioned by the Euromarkets gave rise to a ‘transatlantic regulatory feedback loop’ that stimulated deregulation on both sides of the Atlantic and placed Anglo-American capitalist interdependence at the centre of the politics of globalisation. The deeper origins of financial deregulation lie in the transformation of Anglo-American finance during the 1960s.
neoliberalism 
5 days ago
California's online community college finds its leader: Heather Hiles
Hiles will also be tasked with helping develop a new model of instruction for the system. The new institution, which still lacks a name, will offer certificates in the competency-based format that has become increasingly popular among higher education innovators. This project represents perhaps the most significant experiment in competency-based education thus far, especially from a public institution.

Many competency-based courses at other institutions are led by instructional teams that split up duties of delivering instruction, assigning grades and fielding questions from students. Learning takes place in discrete chunks completed within flexible time frames. Details of the new institution's approach to competency-based education remain under wraps.
moocs 
5 days ago
Discrimination in the Age of Algorithms by Jon Kleinberg, Jens Ludwig, Sendhil Mullainathan, Cass R. Sunstein :: SSRN
The law forbids discrimination. But the ambiguity of human decision-making often makes it extraordinarily hard for the legal system to know whether anyone has actually discriminated. To understand how algorithms affect discrimination, we must therefore also understand how they affect the problem of detecting discrimination. By one measure, algorithms are fundamentally opaque, not just cognitively but even mathematically. Yet for the task of proving discrimination, processes involving algorithms can provide crucial forms of transparency that are otherwise unavailable. These benefits do not happen automatically. But with appropriate requirements in place, the use of algorithms will make it possible to more easily examine and interrogate the entire decision process, thereby making it far easier to know whether discrimination has occurred. By forcing a new level of specificity, the use of algorithms also highlights, and makes transparent, central tradeoffs among competing values. Algorithms are not only a threat to be regulated; with the right safeguards in place, they have the potential to be a positive force for equity.
artificial_intelligence 
8 days ago
What Spotify needs in order to become a great podcast app - The Verge
Spotify made its name as a music app, but now CEO Daniel Ek says the company is interested in not only being a listening platform for any podcast, but also creating its own exclusive releases. Suffice it to say, Spotify wants to be a big player in the podcast space and is heavily investing to fill that role. Before it’s a podcast behemoth, though, the company needs to work on its signature app. Here’s what Spotify needs to do before it can be the greatest place to listen to and possibly create podcasts.
podcastproject 
8 days ago
Take Back the Net: Joy Rankin’s A People’s History of Computing in the United States
Rankin shows, in contrast, that it was the hippie ‘60s and ‘70s, not the corporate and consumerist ‘80s and ‘90s, that first gave shape and possibility to connectedness via computing. She gives us a new origin story for computer-based connectedness, anchored in the worlds of college and high school education and student participation rather than Silicon Valley entrepreneurship. In this origin story, ordinary Americans were “computing citizens” before Silicon Valley turned us into “computing consumers.” And with the insight provided by Rankin’s carefully-wrought historical arguments, we can begin to imagine a future in which we will once again claim our computing citizenship.

100j
Teaching 
8 days ago
Contested credibility economies of nuclear power in India - Monamie Bhadra Haines, 2019
STS scholars studying anti-nuclear activism in the context of nations in the Global North have observed the critical role of science to mediate relations of domination and resistance. Through a historical examination of anti-nuclear activism in India, this article investigates the instrumentalization of science as a liberal democratic rationality. In doing so, the article shows how elite Indian activists – many of whom are scientists, engineers, journalists and academic professionals – will never be seen as scientifically knowledgeable in nuclear matters, because of their non-state educational pedigrees. If activists cannot hold the state accountable through science, they have attempted to anticipate what other kinds of arguments and modes of contention may gain traction. As such, they have deployed more ‘guerilla’ tactics grounded in bureaucratic rationalities in the hopes of installing themselves as alternate sources of expertise in India’s nuclear landscape.
research 
8 days ago
Why Fears of Fake News Are Overhyped – Reasonable Doubt – Medium
100j

We find that only 27 percent of Americans visited fake news websites, which we define as recently created sites that frequently published false or misleading claims that overwhelmingly favor one of the presidential candidates, in the weeks before the 2016 election. These visits show the expected political skew — Clinton and Trump supporters tended to prefer pro-Clinton and pro-Trump sites, respectively — but made up only about 2 percent of the information people consumed from websites focusing on hard news topics. Consistent with behavioral evidence showing that online echo chambers are relatively rare, fake news consumption was concentrated among the 10 percent of Americans with the most conservative news diets, who were responsible for approximately six in 10 visits to fake news websites during this period. Even in that group, however, fake news made up less than 8 percent of their total news diet. Finally, people ages 60 and over consumed more fake news than other cohorts, which may reflect a lack of digital literacy or simply having more time to read news. (Other scholars have found similar patterns in Facebook sharing and Twitter sharing and consumption of fake news.)

Moreover, the reach of fake news declined dramatically in the period before the 2018 midterm elections. In a new report co-authored with Benjamin Lyons and Jacob Montgomery, Guess, Reifler, and I found that just 7 percent of Americans visited one of the fake news sites that we previously identified in 2018 — a decline of approximately 75 percent in relative terms. (Consumption differences between groups by age, partisanship, and news diets remained similar to 2016.)

Moreover, the role of Facebook in the spread of fake news appears to have changed. In 2016, the site differentially appeared in web traffic just before visits to fake news sites, suggesting it played a key role in enabling the spread of fake news. No such pattern is apparent in the 2018 data. This result, which echoes findings from other studies and holds with an updated set of websites we compiled before the 2018 study, suggests that the platform’s efforts to limit the reach of fake news are having some impact. (Such inferences are necessarily indirect because Facebook remains largely closed to outside research for now.)
Teaching  polarization  misinformation  objectivity 
9 days ago
Republic of Lies | Anna Merlan | Macmillan
But it was not by the power of one man alone that these ideas gained new power. Republic of Lies looks beyond the caricatures of conspiracy theorists to explain their tenacity. Without lending the theories validity, Anna Merlan gives a nuanced, sympathetic account of the people behind them, across the political spectrum, and the circumstances that helped them take hold. The lack of a social safety net, inadequate education, bitter culture wars, and years of economic insecurity have created large groups of people who feel forgotten by their government and even besieged by it. Our contemporary conditions are a perfect petri dish for conspiracy movements: a durable, permanent, elastic climate of alienation and resentment. All the while, an army of politicians and conspiracy-peddlers has fanned the flames of suspicion to serve their own ends.
misinformation 
9 days ago
The Rise of the Robot Reporter - The New York Times
100j

A.I. journalism is not as simple as a shiny robot banging out copy. A lot of work goes into the front end, with editors and writers meticulously crafting several versions of a story, complete with text for different outcomes. Once the data is in — for a weather event, a baseball game or an earnings report — the system can create an article.

But machine-generated stories are not infallible. For an earnings report article, for instance, software systems may meet their match in companies that cleverly choose figures in an effort to garner a more favorable portrayal than the numbers warrant. At Bloomberg, reporters and editors try to prepare Cyborg so that it will not be spun by such tactics.
Teaching 
9 days ago
Tools
100j - tools to understand data
teaching 
9 days ago
Department of Sociology, University of California Berkeley
100a; has lectures and a new way of teaching theory by asking students to engage with small portions of the text.
teaching 
9 days ago
Algorithmic Personalization as a Mode of Individuation - Celia Lury, Sophie Day, 2019
Recognizing that many of the modern categories with which we think about people and their activities were put in place through the use of numbers, we ask how numbering practices compose contemporary sociality. Focusing on particular forms of algorithmic personalization, we describe a pathway of a-typical individuation in which repeated and recursive tracking is used to create partial orders in which individuals are always more and less than one. Algorithmic personalization describes a mode of numbering that involves forms of de- and re- aggregating, in which a variety of contexts are continually included and excluded. This pathway of a-typical individuation is important, we suggest, to a variety of domains and, more broadly, to an understanding of contemporary economies of sharing where the politics of collectivities, ownership and use are being reconfigured as a default social.
research 
9 days ago
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