Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for December 16, 2019

in rsslog •  4 months ago 

A TED talk promoting the ideas of collaborative leadership and radical interdependence; A TED talk arguing for an improved theory of economic value; Larry Sanger responds to Jack Dorsey's initiative for a decentralized social media protocol; An AI think-tank says that emotion-sensing AIs should be banned from uses that impact everyday life; and a Steem-powered reforestation initiative sees success


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  1. A guide to collaborative leadership - This TED talk was posted in September/2019, and came across the ted.com RSS feed on Thursday, December 12. In the talk, Lorna Davis argues against the idea that "one person has all the answers", saying that the idea is both ludicrous and dangerous. Instead of relying on the individual hero, she says, we need "radical interdependence". From there, she goes on to describe the B corp. movement - companies who see themselves as part of an overall whole, who agree to serve the community as well as the shareholders, and who sign a Declaration of Interdependence. She goes on to note that individual leaders, heroes, make announcements with goals that can be "individually measured and neatly delivered" whereas interdependent leaders make announcements that are invitations to help. A second difference, she says, is that individual leaders only announce goals after the plan is developed, whereas interdependent leaders announce goals in advance of the plan, so that stakeholders can collaborate on the plan. As a demonstration of interdependent leadership, Davis announces her goal to stop rhino poaching in South Africa, and solicits involvement.

  2. What is economic value, and who creates it? - This TED talk was published in July/2019, and it came across the RSS feed for ted.com on Wednesday, December 11. In this talk, Mariana Mazzucato argues that the terms "wealth creation" and "value creation" have been watered down in modern usage, and people need a "proper theory of value" for dealing with claims of value creation. In support of her argument, she points to the example of Goldman Sachs, whose CEO claimed to have workers who were "he most productive in the world, in the aftermath of a $10 billion banking bailout. She wonders how a CEO could get away, unchallenged, with making a statement like that after losing so much money. She then visits the history of economics, starting from 300 years ago, to explain what value creation is. In the earliest model, she says that the farmers - the productive class - created value, the merchants - or proprietors - moved value around, and the landowners - or sterile class. The next model, during the industrial revolution, saw laborers as the source of value. It also broke activities into productive and unproductive activities, where unproductive activities included things like "lawyers, professors, shopkeepers, and musicians." Next, neoclassical economics, which she terms "the big revolutoin changed from an objective focus on valley to a subjective one, where the subjective value is revealed by a so-called equilibrium price. This, leads to the focus on GDP as a measure of productivity, which leads to any number of strange conclusions. Additionally, from the 1970s onward, she says that the role of finance was to finance itself. This seems to be her main objection to the current weakness in theory about value in the modern economy,
    And so what we have today is an ultrafinancialized industrial sector where, increasingly, a share of the profits and the net income are not actually going back into production, into human capital training, into research and development but just being siphoned out in terms of buying back your own shares, which boosts stock options, which is, in fact, the way that many executives are getting paid. And, you know, some share buybacks is absolutely fine, but this system is completely out of whack.
    Elaborating, she notes that modern economic theory leads to a confusion of "rent" - thought of by the classicals as "unearned income" with profit, and it also leads to a false good/bad dichotomy when trying to decide how much money is appropriate for different sectors of the economy. Finally she notes the importance of distinguishing between "output" and "value" or "value" and "price", and asks how an economy can nurture trial and error with perseverance through failure.

  3. A Response to Jack Dorsey on Decentralizing Social Media - Larry Sanger, wikipedia co-founder and decentralized media activist, issues a skeptical response to Jack Dorsey's plan for a decentralized protocol. Sanger points out - with specifics - that Twitter's recent history demonstrates increasing levels of hostility towards competitive ideas and free speech, and suggests that Jack Dorsey endorsing decentralized standards is analogous to Mark Zuckerberg endorsing free speech. During the course of his response, Sanger also highlights his own work launching the Knowledge Standards Foundation, for a decentralized encyclopedia protocol.

  4. Emotion recognition technology should be banned, says an AI research institute - Earlier this week, Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for December 11, 2019 covered news that an emotion sensing robot is coming online on the International Space Station. Today, the AI Now research institute says in an annual report that evidence is sparse that emotion sensing actually works, but it is being used in a variety of applications, from job screening to criminal assessments and VR gaming headsets. There is also evidence that it amplifies race and gender bias. The think tank suggests that, until proper studies have been completed, the technology should be banned from uses that effect people's everyday lives.

  5. STEEM Steem-powered reforestation - In Steem's beta community for Natural Medicine, @nateonsteemit announces that 8 trees have been ordered with the proceeds from a Steem fundraising initiative, bringing the total number of trees to more than 44 on a half acre of land. The trees included:
    two pink lady apple trees (Melissa's favorite apple), two red Haven peach trees (it's the south: you can't have too many peaches), and four native persimmons!
    (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @nateonsteemit.)


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