"The Training Commission" is Ingrid Burrington and Brendan C Byrne's serialized science fiction tale, taking the form of an email newsletter that lets you eavesdrop on the correspondence between the story's principal characters: it's set after a civil war ("the Shitstorm"), sparked by misbehaving and easily abused machine-learning systems, and which was resolved after a protracted and catastrophic digital blackout.
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Why do billionaires like Elon Musk make terrified pronouncements about the imminent rise of self-aware, murderous AIs that use us to reproduce themselves, controlling us instead of serving us?
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The basis for the health-insurance copay is that the 99% need to be disincentivized from "abusing" their health-care and going to the doctor for frivolous ailments (if this was really a thing, we'd have sliding-scale copays that charged rich people astounding sums to see the doctor, to ensure that everyone's incentives were properly aligned). Read the rest
When the 9/11 commission reported back on the intelligence failures that led to the attacks 16 years ago, they identified a key problem: America's spy agencies had collected so much useless, indiscriminate information (haystacks) that they couldn't find the useful, salient facts (needles) buried there. Read the rest
Washington and Lee law professor Joshua Fairfield is the author of a recent book called Owned: Property, Privacy, and the New Digital Serfdom, which takes up the argument that DRM and license agreements mean that we have no real property rights anymore, just a kind of feudal tenancy in which distant aristocrats (corporations) dictate how we may and may not use the things we "buy," backed by the power of the state to fine or jail us if we fail to arrange our affairs to the company's shareholders. Read the rest
Noncompete agreements have historically been the provision of highly-placed execs and critical "knowledge workers" (and even then, fast-growing economies like California have banned them in the interests of encouraging competition and growth) but now employers are routinely making the "agreements" a condition of unskilled waged labor, from making sandwiches to digging holes for $10/hour. Read the rest
Before the deregulation bonanza of the 1980s, corporations were expected to use debt and the public markets as the capital of last resort: they would pay "normal" dividends, then use the left over money to increase pay and fund expansion; but after the birth of "shareholder management," companies have acted like homeowners before the financial crisis: borrowing heavily to pay investors, at the expense of expansion and wages -- but unlike homeowners, corporate management gets to duck the bill when it comes due. Read the rest
The heroin epidemic in America has a death-toll comparable to the AIDS epidemic at its peak, but this time, there's no movement coalescing to argue for the lives of the economically sidelined, financially ruined dying thousands -- while the AIDS epidemic affected a real community of mutual support, the heroin epidemic specifically strikes down people whose communities are already gone. Read the rest