Mammon category archive
Robert Reich notes a malignancy in our society, one exemplified by the “Pharma Bro, Martin Skrelly. A snippet:
Shkreli will do whatever it takes to win, regardless of the consequences for anyone else. He believes that the norms other people live by don’t apply to him. His attitude toward the law is that anything he wants to do is OK unless it is clearly illegal — and even if it’s illegal, it’s OK if he can get away with it.
He’s contemptuous of anyone who gets in his way — whether judges, prosecutors, members of Congress or journalists. He remains unapologetic for what he did. He is utterly shameless.
Zeynep Tufekci noticed that, when she started watching political videos, whether left- or right-leaning, YouTube’s recommendations for additional videos skewed more and more radical. She wonders why. Here’s a bit of her article:
This is not because a cabal of YouTube engineers is plotting to drive the world off a cliff. A more likely explanation has to do with the nexus of artificial intelligence and Google’s business model. (YouTube is owned by Google.) For all its lofty rhetoric, Google is an advertising broker, selling our attention to companies that will pay for it. The longer people stay on YouTube, the more money Google makes.
What keeps people glued to YouTube? Its algorithm seems to have concluded that people are drawn to content that is more extreme than what they started with — or to incendiary content in general.
Follow the link for the rest, then stop following YouTube recommendations.
The Trump administration is indeed draining the swamp, but not of swamp creatures–they are thriving and, indeed, proliferating–but of our money.
In a court case in which Google is contesting the EU’s “right to be forgotten” law, Great Britain’s Information Commissioner contemns Google’s contention that its search results are somehow “journalism.” A snippet:
This argument enraged the ICO, which said in the submission: “The concept of ‘journalism’ presupposes a process by which content is published to an audience pursuant to the taking of human editorial decisions as to the substantive nature and extent of that content.”
In plain English, humans (mostly) don’t decide what appears in search results so calling Google’s activities “journalism” is just plain wrong, according to the commissioner.
There’s an excellent and entertaining science fiction book series called “Traders Tales” set in a future in which corporations own everything, including planets. (You can find the audio books at Scribl.)
It starts when the narrator’s mother, a college professor employed by the corporation that owns her planet, dies in an accident. As he no longer has a tie the planet, the owning corporation tells him he has to leave, thus starting his journey through space and the experiences that form the series. Refreshingly, the story focuses on day-to-day life aboard a space freighter, not on Star Wars-like war and adventure.
It is not a dystopian tale, as were Brave New World or 1984, but I always found premise to be creepy. Under corporate ownership, as under Republican governance, there is no such thing as the common good; there is only mammon.
Will Bunch suggests those days may be closer than you think.
Brodock is quite correct about doctors’ not knowing how much health care costs. When I told my doctor how much one prescription he gave me cost, he nearly fell off his chair. It was almost 10 times the cost of an equivalent over-the-counter nutritional supplement. He okayed my using the OTC product.
Jay Bookman points out that the NRA speaks out of both sides of its mouth.
Anne Applebaum explains.
I don’t agree with her wholeheartedly, because she doesn’t differentiate between the actions of Facebook and those of Facebook posters, nor does she remark on the credulousness of the American Facebook user. Nevertheless, as regards how Facebook and other anti-social media platforms manipulate the material that Facebook users see when they log in, I submit that her piece is worth a read. Said manipulation may not be “publishing,” but at the very least it is some form of “polishing.”
The Facebook algorithm, by its very nature, is pushing Americans, and everybody else, into ever more partisan echo chambers — and people who read highly partisan material are much more likely to believe false stories.
At the same time, Facebook has declared itself free of responsibility: The company continues to argue that it is not legally liable for material that appears on its platform because it is not a “publisher,” even though it behaves in every other way like a publisher, including by collecting advertising revenue that used to go to publishers. The result is that anyone who seeks to spread false information on Facebook or any other social-media site is, in practice, no longer bound by laws on libel or false advertising that were explicitly designed to stop them.
At the San Francisco Chronicle, Chirag Asaravala wonders whether there is dark side to the “there’s an app for that” model of employment. A snippet:
American venture capitalists and their host of cheerleaders, from investors to media, to the very startups themselves, beat a steady drum of how all such endeavors are a healthy sign of entrepreneurial innovation. They convince us that this is technology at its finest and our young college graduates are being hired to engineer “global solutions” — that this type of “disruption” is good.
They are, in fact, the signs of emerging oppression and growing social stratification. These app-based services are virtual canaries in the coal mine of a country that is foundering and struggling to make meaningful work for its young people.