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Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Technological Tail Wagging Humanity's Dog

Lots of hand-wringing these days with respect to the existing and potential malign attributes of digital technologies--social media in particular.

This is very interesting, very smart young man, Tristan Harris. Watch all of it. Time well spent.

Highly recommend you spend some time surfing their website once you've viewed the above video talk.

Dovetails in a number of areas with this book I'm close to finishing.

...The pandemic of contempt in political matters makes it impossible for people of opposing views to work together. Go to YouTube and watch the 2016 presidential debates: they are masterpieces of eye-rolling, sarcasm, and sneering derision. For that matter, listen as politicians at all levels talk about their election opponents, or members of the other party. Increasingly, they describe people unworthy of any kind of consideration, with no legitimate ideas or views. And social media? On any contentious subject, these platforms are contempt machines. 

Of course this is self-defeating in a nation in which political competitors must also be collaborators. How likely are you to want to work with someone who has told an audience that you are a fool or a criminal? Would you make a deal with someone who publicly said you are corrupt? How about becoming friends with someone who says your opinions are idiotic? Why would you be willing to compromise politically with such a person? You can resolve problems with someone with whom you disagree, even if you disagree angrily, but you can’t come to a solution with someone who holds you in contempt or for whom you have contempt. 

Contempt is impractical and bad for a country dependent on people working together in politics, communities, and the economy. Unless we hope to become a one-party state, we cannot afford contempt for our fellow Americans who simply disagree with us. 

Nor is contempt morally justified. The vast majority of Americans on the other side of the ideological divide are not terrorists or criminals. They are people like us who happen to see certain contentious issues differently. When we treat our fellow Americans as enemies, we lose friendships, and thus, love and happiness. That’s exactly what’s happening. I already cited a poll showing that a sixth of Americans have stopped talking to a family member or close friend because of the 2016 election. People have ended close relationships, the most important source of happiness, because of politics...

Brooks, Arthur C.. Love Your Enemies. Broadside e-books. Kindle Edition, location 352.
A lot to think about.

UPDATE: I finished Arthur's book. Also definitely "time well spent," though I have some picks.


How facial recognition became the most feared technology in the US
Two lawmakers are drafting a new bipartisan bill that could seriously limit the use of the technology across the US.

Facial recognition is having a moment.

Across the US, local politicians and national lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have started introducing rules that bar law enforcement agencies from using facial recognition technology to surveil everyday citizens.

In just the past few months, three cities — San Francisco, Oakland, and Somerville, Massachusetts — have passed laws to ban government use of the controversial technology, which analyzes pictures or live video of human faces in order to identify them. Cambridge, Massachusetts, is also moving toward a government ban. Congress recently held two oversight hearings on the topic and there are at least four pieces of current federal legislation to limit the technology in some way.

And now, Recode has learned that two top lawmakers, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), plan this fall to introduce a new bipartisan bill on facial recognition, according to representatives from both legislators’ offices. The specifics of the bill are still being hashed out, but it could include issuing a pause on the federal government’s acquisition of new facial recognition technology, according to a staffer from Jordan’s office.

Facial recognition is a rare case where regulators are working together — on a bipartisan level, no less — to try to get ahead of technology instead of catching up to it. That’s because this powerful new technology has the potential to infringe on Americans’ civil liberties — no matter their political persuasion — and to have a chilling effect on free speech…
For one thing, I am reminded of my 2008 post "Privacy and the 4th Amendment Amid the 'War on Terror'."

More to come...

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