Goodhart's Law is one of those neat formulations that codifies something I've been trying to put my finger on for years: "once a social or economic indicator or other surrogate measure is made a target for the purpose of conducting social or economic policy, then it will lose the information content that would qualify it to play such a role."
That is, once you start measuring GDP as a way of gauging social welfare, people will start to figure out ways to make GDP go up without improving social welfare (say, by swapping dirty financial derivatives). Once Google starts measuring inbound links as a way of evaluating the importance of web-pages, people will figure out how to increase the inbound links to unimportant pages (splogging, blogspam). And once you measure fat or calorie content as a proxy for the healthfulness of food, manufacturers will figure out how to decrease fat and calories without making the food more healthful (reducing fat by adding sugar, reducing calories by adding poisonous artificial sweeteners).
The law was first stated in a 1975 paper by Goodhart and gained popularity in the context of the attempt by the United Kingdom government of Margaret Thatcher to conduct monetary policy on the basis of targets for broad and narrow money, but the idea is considerably older. It is implicit in the economic idea of rational expectations. While it originated in the context of market responses the Law has profound implications for the selection of high-level targets in organisations.
Over 1,000 Google employees have signed a petition urging senior management to reconsider the company's plan to launch a censored Chinese search product (codename: Dragonfly), a revolt that's been in the works since the news broke; the employees demand transparency about the project and point out that it violates the Association of Computing Machinery's code […]
Grant Burningham interviewed me for his Bots and Ballots podcast (MP3), covering a bunch of extremely timely tech-politics issues: Facebook and the impact of commercial surveillance on democratic elections; Alex Jones, censorship and market concentration; and monopolism and the future of the internet.
Who likes socialism and mistrust capitalism? Democrats and young people, who are mostly the same people.
From self-driving cars to Siri, we’ve already gotten a taste of what AI can do, and now this groundbreaking technology is making its way to education and revolutionizing the way we learn new languages. Mondly uses state-of-the-art speech recognition to help you speak foreign languages like a true local. Lifetime subscriptions are on sale for […]
We’ve all used Excel at some point in our careers, but chances are most of us have only scratched the surface of what this ubiquitous program can do. From automating simple tasks to presenting data through beautiful charts and PivotTables, Excel brings a ton of utility to the table that can make a huge impact […]
Traveling isn’t always the most comfortable experience, but at least you have your music to keep you company on those long flights. That is, until your chatty neighbor and that crying baby three seats over drown out your playlist. These Paww WaveSound 3 Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones block up to 20 decibels of audio, so you can […]