One of the best podcast episodes I heard this year was @RobertCGreen talking to @Rob_Reid about the ethical and philosophical conundrums facing us as more people have their genome sequenced. Do you really want to know your genetic lottery numbers?
Via Tumblr (lost the source)
“Just a hint of things to come. When your darkest secrets leak – it won’t be from Google. A low-tier service that has your behavioural profile gets hacked or purchased by some seedy site owners, and all your activities are cross-referenced.” Trevor_Goodchild
This Is a Reddit comment on an article about how a porn producer is suing a TV executive for pirating gay porn.
He or she is right. The biggest risk to your truly darkest secrets being exposed does not come from Google or other big Internet companies who tend to obey privacy laws and have an interest and ability to protect your data. Nor does it come from western intelligence agencies whose, again, work under the law.
The risk comes from sketchy profilers who cross-reference your IP and other digital fingerprints, linking all your online activities and personas. It also comes from lawsuits – capricious or not – where discovery processes mean you may have to hand over deeply sensitive emails and other records. I remember the newspapers mocking Max Clifford about the size of his penis after that intimate detail was exposed in one of his trials.
No record is safe. Your diary can be subpoena’d. Your medical history can become a court record. Your emails can easily become public property entirely through legal means. This is especially true to work emails. Just remember that when you gossip about a colleague or share some other private information, you could be one anti-trust lawsuits from having that in the internet archive.
So watch what you commit to written record. Assume absolutely everything done on work equipment or at work is never private. Learn to protect your privacy online. The Electronic Freedom Foundation’s Surveillance Self Defense is a great starting point.
A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points — Alan Kay
Via the Grugq
I was reminded of this concept of Effective Theory in an article on Economics by Arnold King. Heren it is explained by Harvard physicist Lisa Randall:
Effective theory is a valuable concept when we ask how scientific theories advance, and what we mean when we say something is right or wrong. Newton’s laws work extremely well. They are sufficient to devise the path by which we can send a satellite to the far reaches of the Solar System and to construct a bridge that won’t collapse. Yet we know quantum mechanics and relativity are the deeper underlying theories. Newton’s laws are approximations that work at relatively low speeds and for large macroscopic objects. What’s more is that an effective theory tells us precisely its limitations — the conditions and values of parameters for which the theory breaks down. The laws of the effective theory succeed until we reach its limitations when these assumptions are no longer true or our measurements or requirements become increasingly precise.
Whereas the term “science” often is used to connote absolute truth in an almost religious sense, effective theory is provisional. When we are certain that in a particular context a theory will work, then and only then is the theory effective.
Effective theory consists of verifiable knowledge. To be verifiable, a finding must be arrived at by methods that are generally viewed as robust. Any researcher who tries to replicate a finding using appropriate methods should be able to confirm it. The strongest confirmation of the effectiveness of a theory comes from prediction and control. Lisa Randall’s example of sending a spacecraft to the far reaches of the solar system illustrates such confirmation.
“For employees (campaign staff), there is an opportunity for live-action roleplaying (LARPing) disruption instead of actually taking the existential risks of disrupting. LARPing disruption is fun..Don’t mistake LARPing disruption for the real thing.” Venkatesh Rao on “Software Adoption Bullshit” via Ribbonfarm newsletter
“The High Modernists claimed to be about figuring out the most efficient and high-tech way of doing things, but most of them knew little relevant math or science and were basically just LARPing being rational by placing things in evenly-spaced rectangular grids.” Review of “Seeing Like A State” by Scott Alexander
I first internalized the meaning of this phrase when I saw it in the Ribbonfarm newsletter above.
LARPing suddenly crystallized and gave a name to a phenomenon I have witnessed my whole life: people playing roles as though they were in a solipsistic theater, rather than living their roles.
LARPing is common amongst the wealthy, where dilettantism is endemic. I know of entire companies that exist merely to provide a realistic LARPing set for someone to play CEO / Founder, with sometimes hundreds of employees cast as actors in their personal drama.
It reminds me of the old vituperative “poseur“, but LARPing is more collaborative. You need a cast to play along. It is group or collective posing.
Revealed Preferences is a term from economics that neatly encapsulates “watch what I do not what I say”.
I see this as a good guiding principle in life. Ignore your own stated preferences, goals, pleasures and interest. Analyze your actual behavior to determine your own Revealed Preferences.
It also has socio-political utility. President Trump was the shocking Revealed Preferences of more swing state voters than anyone thought.
The best predictor of future behavior is past behaviors, says psychology.
My Ukrainian pal Nikita introduced me to this term. From Wikipedia:
Gopnik is a pejorative term to describe a particular subculture in Russia, Eastern Europe, former Soviet republics, and other Slavic countries to refer aggressive young men or women of lower-class suburbans (usually under 25 years of age) coming from families of poor education and income, somewhat similar to American white trash, British chavs, Australian bogans and Scottish neds.