John Scalzi's Big Idea introduces Bruce Schneier's excellent new book Liars and Outliers, and interviews Schneier on the work that went into it. I read an early draft of the book and supplied a quote: "Brilliantly dissects, classifies, and orders the social dimension of security-a spectacularly palatable tonic against today's incoherent and dangerous flailing in the face of threats from terrorism to financial fraud." Now that the book is out, I heartily recommend it to you.
It’s all about trust, really. Not the intimate trust we have in our close friends and relatives, but the more impersonal trust we have in the various people and systems we interact with in society. I trust airline pilots, hotel clerks, ATMs, restaurant kitchens, and the company that built the computer I’m writing this short essay on. I trust that they have acted and will act in the ways I expect them to. This type of trust is more a matter of consistency or predictability than of intimacy.
Of course, all of these systems contain parasites. Most people are naturally trustworthy, but some are not. There are hotel clerks who will steal your credit card information. There are ATMs that have been hacked by criminals. Some restaurant kitchens serve tainted food. There was even an airline pilot who deliberately crashed his Boeing 767 into the Atlantic Ocean in 1999.
My central metaphor is the Prisoner’s Dilemma, which nicely exposes the tension between group interest and self-interest. And the dilemma even gives us a terminology to use: cooperators act in the group interest, and defectors act in their own selfish interest, to the detriment of the group. Too many defectors, and everyone suffers — often catastrophically.
Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive
EraseCOVID is what happens when creative folks work together for the greater good. A fantastic gang of artists and designers (including Ruben Bolling) have joined forces to create some really terrific “Public Safety Art,” which is all available to purchase as posters, greeting cards, and more! Proceeds benefit chosen charity MusiCares, the artists, and the […]
You might remember that when I’m not blogging for Boing Boing, I can usually be found at my other gig — Children’s Fairyland. Of course, the Oakland, California kiddie theme park is closed now and will be until it’s safe to reopen. But, we do have a skeleton crew of essential “elves” who are on […]
Anyone who’s ever gone to Burning Man is undoubtedly already familiar with the N95 mask, the particle filters that also protect from inhaling playa dust. And Burners are also familiar with “radical self expression.” So, it comes as no surprise that the happy mutants over at Burner-friendly Grassy Knoll Industries have taken it upon themselves […]
Believe it or not, you can still score a new job in the midst of the pandemic. There are a bunch of industries under more demand stress than ever that have an immediate need to grow. Regardless of the specific role needed or company that’s hiring, one skill that can only help you score an […]
If you’ve ever tried to shoot your own videos, you know the equipment costs to do it right can mount up quickly. Even if you’re fine with capturing video on your trusty smartphone, you still need a mount to keep your phone in place. And you’ll need a mic to augment your smartphone’s not so […]
“The whole point of a programming language is to get the most out of the computer and the developer…This is why I like Python so much…few Python developers write code that is difficult to pass on to another developer.” With so much in tech so inherently complicated, that comment from Thomas Hatch, CTO and co-founder […]