The story old people tell young people about getting a job


An excerpt from Monical Helsey's new book I Can't Believe it's Not Better: A Woman's Guide to Coping With Life called "Getting a Job, a Short Story by Your Parents" shows off both Helsey's razor wit and the generational unfairness captured so well by Old Economy Steve. Read the rest

Artificial Intelligence, considered: Talking with John Markoff about Machines of Loving Grace


Literary podcaster Rick Kleffer writes, "I must admit that it was too much fun to sit down with John Markoff and talk (MP3) about his book Machines of Loving Grace. Long ago, I booted up a creaking, mothballed version of one of the first Xerox minicomputers equipped with a mouse to extract legacy software for E-mu. Fifteen years later I was at the first Singularity Summit; the book was a trip down many revisions of memory road."

John Markoff’s ‘Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robot’ is a fascinating, character-driven vision of how the recent past created the present and is shaping the near future. The strong and easily understood conflict at the heart of this work gives readers an easy means of grasping the increasingly complicated reality around us. If we do not understand this history, the chances are that we will not have the opportunity to be doomed to repeat it.

Our technological ecology began in two computer labs in Stanford in the early sixties. In one lab, John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial intelligence” with the intention of creating a robot that could think like, move like and replace a human in ten years. On the opposite side of the campus, Douglas Englebart wanted to make it easier for scholars to collaborate using an increasingly vast amount of information. He called it IA, Intelligence Augmentation as a direct response to AI. Thus were born two very different design philosophies that still drive the shape of our technology today – and will continue to do so in the future.

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Ulysses pacts and spying hacks: warrant canaries and binary transparency

As the world's governments exercise exciting new gag-order snooping warrants that companies can never, ever talk about, companies are trying out a variety of "Ulysses pacts" that automatically disclose secret spying orders, putting them out of business. Read the rest

Hilariously terrifying talk about security

In Not Even Close: The State of Computer Security, a talk given at the Norwegian Deveopers' Conference, Microsoft Research's James Mickens gave the most acerbic, funny, terrifying security talk I can remember seeing (and I've seen a lot of 'em!). Read the rest

What does $60 trillion in debt look like?


There's about $60 trillion in public government debt worldwide, and the folks at Visual Capitalist created a chart to show proportions and debt-to-GDP ratio in one handy image.

About two dozen countries carry over 90% of the world's debt, with Japan and Greece having the worst debt-to-GDP ratios.

$60 Trillion of World Debt in One Visualization Read the rest

Why privacy activists and economists should be on the same side

Ryan Calo writes, "I argue in a new paper that economists and privacy advocates don't need to hate one another... Here's the abstract:" Read the rest

There Is Such a Thing As a Free Lunch

On Crooked Timber, John Quiggin has been rehearsing the arguments from an upcoming book called "Economics in Two Lessons," and the latest installment asks why, if there's no such thing as a "free lunch," we're not all still living in caves? Read the rest

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Outstanding paper on the impact of ebook DRM on readers, writers, publishers and distributors

In last summer's Unlocking the Gates of Alexandria: DRM, Competition and Access to E-Books , Ana Carolina Bittar of the Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School at São Paulo does an outstanding, thorough, and easily understandable job in explaining the ways in which ebook DRM ends up hurting writers, readers and publishers by shifting market power to the ebook vendors like Amazon, Google Play, Apple and B&N. Read the rest

Man Who Sold the Moon wins the Sturgeon Award!

This weekend, my short story "The Man Who Sold the Moon" won the The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, a juried prize for the best science fiction story of the year. Read the rest

Letter from the post-work dystopian future

Joel Johnson's short sf story "Hello and Goodbye in Portuguese" is a series of letters between a brother and sister on either side of the post-work divide: the have, and the have-not. Read the rest

Real estate bubble drives urban blight

The West Village's unique identity made it one of the most valued real-estate spots in the world, which is why its bohemian tenants are being forced out by landlords who jack up the rent and leave the place empty until they can convince a multinational to sign a lease -- it's Mark Jacobs versus Jane Jacobs. Read the rest

Poverty is a tax on cognition

In an outstanding lecture at the London School of Economics, Macarthur "genius award" recipient Sendhil Mullainathan explains his research on the psychology of scarcity, a subject that he's also written an excellent book about. Read the rest

Former IMF chief economist on the problems with TPP

Tim Harford writes, "Simon Johnson is a fascinating character, former chief economist of the IMF and now scourge of bankers and lobbyists everywhere." Read the rest

Taxi medallion markets collapse across America

Uber may be rapacious, exploitative corporate scum, but they're knocking the bottom out of one of the most corrupt "markets" in the country. Read the rest

British austerity: a failed experiment abandoned by the rest of the world

Writing in the Guardian, Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman analyses the last five years of British austerity, using other developed nations in the EU and elsewhere as a benchmark for the growth we could have had -- it's not a pretty picture. Read the rest

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