People Want to Know About Algorithms—but Not Too Much

Sarah Mazzetti

At the heart of this conundrum are the tangled vines of transparency and trust. When we interact with algorithms, we know we are dealing with machines. Yet somehow their intelligence and their ability to mimic our own patterns of thought and communication confuse us into viewing them as human. Researchers have observed that when computer users are asked to describe how machines interact with them, they use anthropomorphic terms such as “integrity,” “honesty,” and “cruelty.” I also refer to algorithms’ “behavior” or their “going rogue.” Our language, at least, would suggest that we expect the same degree of trustworthiness, benevolence, and fairness from the computer algorithms we deal with as we do from our human peers.

Truth is a Lost Game in Turkey. Don’t Let the Same Thing Happen to You

This refashioning of a post-truth, post-fact Turkey has not happened overnight. The process has involved the skilful and wilful manipulation of narratives. We gave up some time ago asking the astonished questions “How can they say or do that?” some time ago. Truth is a lost game in my country. In Europe and America, you still have time to rescue it – but you must learn from Turkey how easily it can be lost.

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We found, as you are now finding, that the new truth-building process does not require facts or the underpinning of agreed values. We were confronted – as you are being confronted – by a toxic vocabulary: “elite”, “experts”, “real people” and “alienated intellectuals”. The elite, with experts as mouthpieces of that oppressive elite, were portrayed as people detached from society, willing to suppress the needs, choices and beliefs of “real people”.

Events moved quickly. Those who believed experts should be excluded from the truth-building process, and that the facts were too boring to be bothered with, became the most active participants in a reconstruction of their own truth. The magic word was “respect”, with the demand that the elite, since they were so out of touch, should respect real people’s truth.

→ The Guardian

The Kid’s A Natural

Father to son :

The fact that my son is showing a prosperous interest in the hobby that I love makes me, as a father, happy to see the future generation of model builders develop. Building models isn’t such a popular hobby anymore and I get that. But he sees me doing it and thinks it’s cool. I do realize that he’ll likely move on, like I did, and find other hobbies to enjoy. That’s perfectly okay. These initial builds will certainly mean more to me than him. He’s learning the ins and outs and at a very astute pace.

This remind me of an Alpha Jet I built when I was a kid. I enjoyed it quite a lot, my father not that much when I tainted his cherish desk, while painting the wings of the aircraft to the colors of the French national flag. Nonetheless, it leaves a lasting memory on its antique furniture —I guess. 

→ Amateur Airplanes

HSBC’s Stephen Green on Banking, Trust and Ethics

The guy burned down the house and he is now telling the financial world how to extinct his arson, which is somehow funny from such a morally-bankrupt mind. But hey, the man is not convicted — yet.

Anyhow, here is Stephen Green, ex-chairman of HSBC, on trust, morality and markets :

If we are to restore trust and confidence in the markets, we must therefore address what is at its root a moral question. Trust and confidence cannot be restored overnight, and they cannot be restored by fiat: the process of renewal has to begin with a recognition of the moral dimension of what has happened. It is as if we have grown increasingly to accept the idea that the value of what we do is fully delineated by the market, by regulatory compliance and the law of contract. If the market will bear it, if the law allows it, if there is a contract, then no other test of rightness need apply. Yet we would not (or should not, at least) live our private lives this way. So why should it be acceptable in business…?

→ Financial Times

‘A Diamond is Forever’ : The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration

In short, relatively high spending on the engagement ring or on the wedding is inversely associated with marriage duration among male and female respondents, though a Skyscraper could help.

In this paper, we evaluate the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 ever-married persons in the United States. Controlling for a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, we find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.