What Happens When We Give up Control of Our Cars?


Malcolm Gladwell warns us about the dangers of autonomous cars.

Words like “autonomous” and “self-driving” mislead because they promise a kind of self-sufficiency on the part of the machine. The autonomous entity is the thing that is supposed to take care of itself. But the coming class of cars does not take care of itself at all. These cars are dependent and, as such, require a larger conversation about what the rules and expectations of that dependency should look like. Once a car belongs to a network, you have to worry about whether the network is safe. Once an algorithm is in command, you have to worry about how the algorithm thinks. We are surrendering control as surely as the first car owners of a century ago did, and when you surrender control, you could end up with a chauffeur problem.

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How school shootings catch on


An article by Malcolm Gladwell on school shootings.

School shootings are a modern phenomenon. There were scattered instances of gunmen or bombers attacking schools in the years before Barry Loukaitis, but they were lower profile. School shootings mostly involve young white men. And, not surprisingly, given the ready availability of firearms in the United States, the phenomenon is overwhelmingly American. But, beyond those facts, the great puzzle is how little school shooters fit any kind of pattern.

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Malcolm Gladwell

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The social logic of Ivy League admissions


This is a relatively old article by Malcolm Gladwell. The article looks at how the admission requirements and procedures evolved over the years for the Ivy League schools. It is interesting to note the things considered important for admission to these schools. I particularly liked the part about the burden of being defined by the school.

Once, I attended a wedding of a Harvard alum in his fifties, at which the best man spoke of his college days with the groom as if neither could have accomplished anything of greater importance in the intervening thirty years. By the end, I half expected him to take off his shirt and proudly display the large crimson “H” tattooed on his chest. What is this “Harvard” of which you Americans speak so reverently?

The complete article

The New Yorker –Malcolm Gladwell

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