The Secret Lives of Facebook Moderators in America

That people don’t know there are human beings doing this work is, of course, by design. Facebook would rather talk about its advancements in artificial intelligence, and dangle the prospect that its reliance on human moderators will decline over time.

But given the limits of the technology, and the infinite varieties of human speech, such a day appears to be very far away. In the meantime, the call center model of content moderation is taking an ugly toll on many of its workers. As first responders on platforms with billions of users, they are performing a critical function of modern civil society, while being paid less than half as much as many others who work on the front lines. They do the work as long as they can — and when they leave, an NDA ensures that they retreat even further into the shadows.

To Facebook, it will seem as if they never worked there at all. Technically, they never did.

→ The Verge

Your Life Is Tetris — Stop Playing It Like Chess

The decision to quit was liberating, terrifying, and confusing. Why did I feel so free when I had given up one of my first loves? But quitting felt good for the reason that starting to play chess felt right in the first place—it was entirely my choice to do so. And with that decision, my competitive, causal chess mindset began to weaken, and my perspective finally cleared.

Meanwhile, Tetris began to fill my gaming void. I play Tetris every day, and every day I pick up the game knowing that I will lose. How long will I play before I lose? How fast will the pieces go? How much will I score? Those are the metrics the game tracks. But I added a way to win—I win if I play Tetris every day.

→ Quartz

Volkswagen and the Future of Honesty

The market is giving its own answer to the question “Is honesty for suckers?” Its response is: “No, honesty is for those who want to maximize value over the long term.” Of course, some corporations will get away with cheating. But the risk is always there that they will be caught. And often – especially for corporations whose brands’ reputation is a major asset – the risk just isn’t worth taking.

Honesty maximizes value over the long term, even if by “value” we mean only the monetary return to shareholders. It is even more obviously true if value includes the sense of satisfaction that all those involved take from their work. Several studies have shown that members of the generation that has come of age in the new millennium are more interested in having an impact on the world than in earning money for its own sake. This is the generation that has spawned “effective altruism,” which encourages giving money away, as long as it is done efficiently.

→ Project Syndicate

Why Free Markets Make Fools of Us

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Although investors were being phished, they “had no reason to be suspicious. They had been told of the wonders of free markets.” But free markets were not so wondrous, because they put the producers of the new, complex, risky securities at a big advantage over the producers of the older, simpler, safer ones. After all, the new securities promised higher returns while disguising the risk of default:

As long as a significant part of the bond-buying public was willing to swallow the myth whole, the investment bankers had an incentive to produce those rotten avocados, and to extract from the agencies the high ratings that would be the cover-up.

On modern advertising and one of my favorite, beloved Ogilvy’s ad :

Akerlof and Shiller think that the idea of phishing also helps to explain modern advertising, especially when we focus on the crucial role of narrative in human thinking. Clever marketers offer simple, attractive stories about their products, and get those stories to stick in the human mind. Consider a famous advertisement for Rolls-Royce, displaying an elegant young mother in the driver’s seat, turned slightly toward her elegant children, who are walking toward the car from outside the entrance to an elegant grocery store. The headline of the copy: “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.” Advertisements of this kind tell an appealing story about what life would be like with the product.

→ The New York Review Of Books