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Bashing tech companies

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A number of tech companies are reviled off late, some of it quite justified.

In one of the previous posts ( I shared some disturbing facts. The flow has not reduced, including a personal incident, that some others may also relate.

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.


In the previous post I mentioned Creepy = Relevant Ads

Facebook (app), Whatsapp (app) eavesdrop on the ambient noise, knows who you are talking to, under what context, for or against, all the time. Some conversations that I had recently for a brand of footwear (not a word was typed on any media, email for that brand of footwear), it was disturbing when a display Ad came up a day after the conversation. This is quite an innocuous example. Imagine every conversation an investment manager has around acquisition and sell off, what power that would give a tech company to the insider information. (Facebook might as well run a machine run Quant Fund based on eavesdropping).

From the previous post:

Solitary/Pack Switch

My working hypothesis has long been that there’s a switch deep in every human personality that can be set in one of two modes. We’re like wolves. We can either be solitary or members of a pack of wolves. I call this switch the Solitary/Pack switch.

When we’re solitary wolves, we’re more free. We’re cautious, but also capable of more joy. We think for ourselves, improvise, create. We scavenge, hunt, hide. We howl once in a while out of pure exuberance.

When we’re in a pack, interactions with others become the most important thing in the world. I don’t know how far that goes with wolves, but it’s dramatic in people. When people are locked in a competitive, hierarchical power structure, as in a corporation, they can lose sight of the reality of what they’re doing because the immediate power struggle looms larger than reality itself.

Scientific communities can also suffer from the switch being set to Pack. For instance, the theoretical physicist Lee Smolin documented how string theorists exerted mob rule for a while in the world of theoretical physics. The pattern is found whenever people form into groups. Street gangs perceive only pack concepts such as territory and revenge, even as they destroy their lives, families, and neighborhoods. The Pack setting of the switch makes you pay so much attention to your peers and enemies in the world of packs that you can become blind to what’s happening right in front of your face.

The switch in people should generally be kept in the Solitary Wolf position. Manias and economic bubbles are also caused by Pack position.

When people are solitary wolves, then each individual has access to slightly different information about the world, and slightly different ways of thinking about that information. I’ve been talking about the relationship between the Solitary setting and personal character, but there are other reasons to keep the switch in the Solitary position.

Jar candy Analogy

Consider a demonstration that is often enacted on the first day of business school. A professor shows a class a big jar of jelly beans and asks each person to estimate the number of beans. Averaging all the estimates usually results in a pretty accurate count. Each person brings different perspectives, cognitive styles, skills, and strategies to the mystery, and the average gets at the agreements between them. (This only works for single-number answers. If you ask a committee to design a product or write a novel, the result comes out like something made by a committee.)

Now suppose that the students could look at the jar only through photos in a social media feed. Different camps of people with different ideas about the number of beans would form and would ridicule each other. Russian intelligence services would add pictures of similar jars with different numbers of beans. Bean promoters would motivate trolls to argue that there aren’t enough beans and you must buy more. And so on. There would no longer be a way to guess the number of beans because the power of diversity will have been compromised. When that happens, markets can no longer offer utility to the world.

You can replace the jar with a political candidate, a product, or anything else.


Written by amitdipsite

December 22, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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