How the internet is transforming death


Have you ever got a notification or a reminder from a friend who has died? The social profiles of people who have left us are still there and they look no different than that of a friend who you have not reached out to in a long time.

A fortnight ago, a friend sent me a light-hearted reminder that it was her birthday in a few days. She does this every year.

The problem is that she died a couple of years ago, and I simply cannot bear to block her (and her digital messages) from my account. I wouldn’t want to either: her satirical messages still make me smile. Like millions of other people, her continued digital life serves as a reminder of her unique identity. Her messages from the grave are a profound example of a contemporary revolution in dying and death.

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Joanna Bourke — Prospect

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When algorithm denies you service

If you deny an applicant a loan because of his credit score you need to send to customer his credit report along with stating the reason of rejection. The customer can look at report and see why his credit score is low. If there is any discrepancy, he can contest. Also, he can make some corrective actions to improve his score like paying off an existing loan.

Given that we are transitioning into a world where algorithms are making decisions to deny you a service, it becomes important that the consumer understands why he was denied a service. The customer needs to be explained in simple terms what were the reasons his service request was denied. The customer should have the opportunity to contest any discrepancy and also should have opportunity to take corrective actions.

Seems there is some progress on this front.

In May 2018, the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation takes effect, including a section giving people a right to get an explanation for automated decisions that affect their lives.

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Anupam Datta – The Conversation

The Hilarious (and Terrifying?) Ways Algorithms Have Outsmarted Their Creators


AI has started surprising us. Should we be scared or excited?

As the paper notes in its discussion—and you may already be thinking—these amusing stories also reflect the potential for evolutionary algorithms or neural networks to stumble upon solutions to problems that are outside-the-box in dangerous ways. They’re a funnier version of the classic AI nightmare where computers tasked with creating peace on Earth decide the most efficient solution is to exterminate the human race.

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Eric Limer — Popular Mechanics

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Twitter CEO wants to study platform’s “health,” but is he ignoring the cancer?


Twitter and the bots. Who will win?

Again, to be totally clear, this anecdotal take is still subject to less dramatic results, like genuine accounts or harmful-yet-simple trolling efforts from bored teens. But if it turns out that accounts like these continue to be run and operated by paid troll-farm services—bounced around via VPNs to avoid IP address scrutiny, operated by minimum-wage workers in third-world countries, possibly fostered by ad purchases using American bank accounts—then the big question is, what’s their end game? American political disruption certainly seems possible, especially in the cases where they pop up specifically to offer thoughts on political issues as big as assault rifles and as small as city council meetings.

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Sam Machkovech — Ars Technica

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She’ll Text Me, She’ll Text Me Not


Does it feel like an eternity waiting for your text to be replied to? Specially, when you know the person has read your texts.

One area where there was a lot of debate was the amount of time one should wait to text back. Several people subscribed to the notion of doubling the response time. (They write back in five minutes, you wait 10, etc.) This way you achieve the upper hand and constantly seem busier and less available than your counterpart. Others thought waiting just a few minutes was enough to prove you had something important in your life besides your phone. Some thought you should double, but occasionally throw in a quick response to not seem so regimented (nothing too long, though!). Some people swore by waiting 1.25 times longer. Others argued they found three minutes to be just right. There were also those who were so fed up with the games that they thought receiving timely responses free of games was refreshing and showed confidence.

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Business Lessons from Reed Hastings (Netflix)


The way Netflix has evolved and has reached where it is today is incredible. A detailed 2 part article on business lessons from Reed Hastings.

3. “By 2011 we realized that many of the firms we were buying from were eventually going to want to run their own streaming service. We had no reliable supply. We had to go vertical since it was not going to be in their interest to sell to us over time.” 

Hastings is saying that Netflix understands the dangers associated with “wholesale transfer pricing.” Eugene Wei has written specifically about how the concept applies to Netflix:

“Netflix had a great advantage when First Sale Doctrine permitted them to buy DVDs at the same wholesale price as any retailer since it capped their costs. But in the TV/movie licensing world, the content owner can constantly adjust their price to squeeze almost every last drop of margin from the distributor as you can’t find perfect substitutes for the goods being offered. Ask TV networks if they make any money licensing NFL, NBA, and MLB games for broadcast. Hint: the answer is no. In the digital world, transfer pricing can be even more of a cruel mistress.”

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Mind Games


A detailed look on AI through the movie – Ex Machina.

Ex Machina presents us with a powerful picture of what it could mean, based on the behaviorist assumptions that undergird the classic Turing Test, to achieve a human-like consciousness in a robot. But just as Nathan objects to the narrow range of behaviors that the classic test examines as relevant to intelligence, so the movie may be suggesting that we wonder even at the richer repertoire of “outputs” that Nathan introduces in order to achieve “consciousness.” At the very least we can notice how his own selfish and destructive motives for creating AI are reflected in the behaviors he seeks to highlight as relevant to Ava’s achievement of consciousness. Escaping her “programming” means recognizing the consciousness of others, and yet she uses her empathy to deceive and manipulate them.

The complete article

Charles T. Rubin — The New Atlantis

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