Bernie Sanders on Brexit: urgent lessons for the Democrats

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In a powerful op-ed in the NYT, Bernie Sanders warns the Democratic Party that Brexit shows that many of the left's traditional supporters justifiably feel abandoned by the neoliberal establishments of the "progressive" parties, and will use any opportunity to show their displeasure. Read the rest

Healthcare workers prioritize helping people over information security (disaster ensues)

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In Workarounds to Computer Access in Healthcare Organizations: You Want My Password or a Dead Patient?, security researchers from Penn, Dartmouth and USC conducted an excellent piece of ethnographic research on health workers, shadowing them as they moved through their work environments, blithely ignoring, circumventing and sabotaging the information security measures imposed by their IT departments, because in so doing, they were saving lives. Read the rest

How to protect the future web from its founders' own frailty

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Earlier this month, I gave the afternoon keynote at the Internet Archive's Decentralized Web Summit, and my talk was about how the people who founded the web with the idea of having an open, decentralized system ended up building a system that is increasingly monopolized by a few companies -- and how we can prevent the same things from happening next time.

1 in 5 snoop on a phone belonging to a friend or loved one

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In Snooping on Mobile Phones: Prevalence and Trends, a paper presented at SOUPS 16, computer scientists from UBC and the University of Lisbon show that a rigorous survey reveals that up to one in five people have snooped on a loved one or friend by accessing their phone. Read the rest

Video: Guarding the Decentralized Web from its founders' human frailty

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Earlier this month, I gave the afternoon keynote at the Internet Archive's Decentralized Web Summit, speaking about how the people who are building a new kind of decentralized web can guard against their own future moments of weakness and prevent themselves from rationalizing away the kinds of compromises that led to the centralization of today's web. Read the rest

Algorithms to Live By: what computer science teaches us about everyday decisions

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Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths' Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions is pitched as a combination of personal advice and business book grounded in the lessons of computer science, but it's better than that: while much of the computer science they explain is useful in personal and management contexts, the book is also a beautifully accessible primer on algorithms and computer science themselves, and a kind of philosophical treatise on what the authors call "computational kindness" and "computational stoicism."

A taxonomy of unethical technology design patterns

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Tristan Harris, formerly Google's Design Ethicist and Product Philosopher, delves into the way that technology design can "hijack your attention," by introducing casino-like intermittent reward; by framing a subset of possible actions as a comprehensive-seeming menu; by deliberately introducing a sense that you might miss out; by forcing you to move though a clickbaity newsfeed to access your friends' updates; by paraphrasing one request ("where can we go for a quiet chat") as another ("which nearby bars make good cocktails?"). Read the rest

Behavioral economist on why Americans freak out when you attribute their success to luck

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Cornell economist Robert Frank drew the ire of the nation's business press when he published an article that said something most economists would agree with: hard work and skill aren't enough (or even necessary) to succeed; but luck is. Rather than back down from the angry reception, he's expanded the article into a book, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, which came out last month. Read the rest

Clicking "Buy now" doesn't "buy" anything, but people think it does

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In What We Buy When We "Buy Now", a paper forthcoming in The University of Pennsylvania Law Review, respected copyright scholars Aaron Perzanowski and Chris Jay Hoofnagle report on an experiment they set up to test what people clicking the "buy now" button on stores selling digital things (ebooks, games, music, videos, etc) think they get for their money -- it's not what they think. Read the rest

Harvard Business Review: Stop paying executives for performance

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Two business-school researchers have published a literature survey in the Harvard Business Review that makes the case against using performance-pay to motivate senior managers. Read the rest

Normalizing deviance: why tech companies repeatedly do stupid, destructive things

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"The normalization of deviance" is a sociological term describing how groups of people become accustomed to ignoring safety rules and best practices, becoming plagued with (sometimes fatal) problems that no one can seem to fix. Read the rest

EAT BUGS: Monetary incentives distort our perceptions of what's good for us

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There are lots of transactions that we're either prohibited from making (selling kidneys), or that are strictly regulated by statute (parental surrogacy). Naturally, these rules are hotly debated, especially among economists, who generally assume that markets of informed buyers and sellers produce outcomes that make everyone better off. Read the rest

Bankers' "Vulnerability Index": scoring employees' desperation

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Back in 2009, SF author Peter Watts had dinner with a retired investment banker from TD who described the bank's "vulnerability index" -- a numeric score that expresses how desperate you are for your paycheck and thus the extent to which you can be reliably expected to forego your dignity and principles to keep your check intact. Read the rest

Your Android unlock pattern sucks as much as your password did

In Tell Me Who You Are, and I Will Tell You Your Lock Pattern, Marte L√łge presented some of her Master's Thesis research on the guessability of Android lock-patterns -- and guess what? Read the rest

Science is really f*cking hard

The rash of high-profile journal retractions, revelations of systematic frauds in peer-review, and journals publishing deliberately bogus papers (e.g. "Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List") -- are we experiencing a crisis in science? Read the rest

Beat your brain's stupid hyperbolic discounting

Dispassionately, we know that cheating on our diets or procrastinating on our stupid deadlines isn't worth it, but our stupid brains treat most future consequences as if they're worth nothing, while treating any present-moment benefits as though they were precious beyond riches -- so how do you get the "hyperbolic discounting" part of your brain to shut up and listen to reason? Read the rest

Cognitive bias in software development considered harmful

Books like Predictably Irrational (and its sequel, Upside of Irrationality) painstaking document the ways that we fall victim to our own cognitive biases, tripping over our own brains. Read the rest

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