Know Thy Futurist | Cathy O’Neil (Boston Review)

Know Thy Futurist; Cathy O’Neil; In Boston Review; 2017-09-25.

tl;dr → Cathy O’Neil, who is not bitter, envies the scholar-gentleman futurists as she aspires to their life of the mind, for which she writes.
and → futurists are scary people; they are serious people; they are never sour or defeated people; they are not silly people.
and → A “four box” model, two axes, four quadrants; named Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4.
and → Facebook is bad.

Models

The Latent Model, single-axis [the lede is buried-last]
  • Men ↔ Women
    (bad) ↔ (good)
The Declared Model, orthogonal-axes
  • Worried ↔ Exuberant
  • Dystopian ↔ Utopian

Indictment

  • data scientists are creating machines
    data scientists are creating machines they do not fully understand.
  • data scientists are creating machines that separates winners from losers,
    data scientists are creating machines that separates winners from losers for reasons that are already very familiar to us
    These reasons are enumerated, by iconic euphemism-cum-epithet as:

    • class
    • race
    • age
    • disability status
    • quality of education
    • and other demographic measures (“other”).
  • [data scientists' activities in the creation of machines] is a threat to the very concept of social mobility.
  • [data scientists' activities in the creation of machines] is the end of the American dream.

Book

Nicole Aschoff; The New Prophets of Capital; Verso; 2015-03-31; 150 pages; ASIN:1781688109: Kindle: $10, paper: $4+SHT; review (2015-03-31, O’Neil likes it).
Nicole Aschoff is an editor at Jacobin magazine; she produces content for The Guardian, The Nation, Al Jazeera, and Dissent.

Commentariat

  • A complaint, and she does have one, but presented with scattered thinking; and not a lot of clarity on the problem at hand or proposals towards their remediation.
  • Always easier to criticize than to create. Imagine what someone with such an expansive viewpoint onto The Forseeable could accomplish towards remediation of the now-problematized span if the energies were dedicated towards practice instead of petulant dissent on theory.
  • Oddly, for someone who is pitching a graphical model with Cartesian-styled orthogonal axes, a.k.a. the “four box model of B-school decision theory, she (or her editors acting in her name and the name of the venue), did not see fit to publish a diagram along with the prose.
  • Wherein a data scientist is a statistician who lives in San Francisco and performs their work-product on a Macintosh computer.

Mentions

  • Singularity University
    motto: “Be Exponential.”
  • Cathy O’Neil self-identifies as a futurist.
    <quote>And I am myself a futurist. </quote>
  • Effective Altruism
    A theory of Peter Singer
  • Future of Humanity Institute
  • Something about Artificial Intelligence (AI) contra algorithms.
    <quote>[Yann LeCun] was careful to distinguish between AI and algorithms.</quote>
    The deciderata being [this is a very old definition, not due to LeCun]

    • An Artificial Intelligence (domain)
      is that which cannot (now) be done with computers.
    • An Algorithm (an algorithmic domain)
      is what can be done (nowadays) using computers.

Quotes

  • <quote>A futurist is a person who spends a serious amount of time—either paid or unpaid—forming theories about society’s future.</quote>
  • <quote>[Because] at the heart of the futurism movement lies money, influence, political power, and access to the algorithms that increasingly rule our private, political, and professional lives.</quote>
  • Singularity, The Singularity (definition); is “The Rapture” from Biblical lore. <quote><snip/>a singularity is a moment where technology gets so much better, at such an exponentially increasing rate, that it achieves a fundamental and meaningful technological shift of existence, transcending its original purpose and even nature.</quote>
  • <quote>The kinds of technologies these two groups consider are nearly disjoint, and even where they do intersect, the futurists’ takes are diametrically opposed.</quote>
  • <quote>Futurists are ready to install hardware in their brains because, as young or middle-age white men, they have never been oppressed.</quote>
  • <quote>These futurists are ready and willing to install hardware in their brains because, as they are mostly young or middle-age white men, they have never been oppressed. </quote> (second utterance).
  • <sneer><quote>(If this sounds like a science fiction fantasy for sex-starved teenagers, don’t be surprised.</quote></sneer>
  • <quote>the concept of effectiveness is limited by the fact that suffering, like community good, is hard to quantify.</quote>
  • <quote>As a group these futurists are fundamentally sympathetic figures but woefully simplistic regarding current human problems.</quote>
  • <sneer><quote>[Technoutopianists] latch on to the latest idea—e.g., will Bitcoin solve the world’s problems?—and turn it into a paid speech.</quote></sneer>
  • <quote>Most futurists are talking about sci-fi fantasies.<quote>
  • “positive futures”
    <snide><quote>It is not entirely clear what that means, but I doubt it means free credit for everyone.</quote></snide>
  • <snide><quote>This is the slick and ingratiating sales force for the futurism movement.<quote></snide>
  • <quote>In the end [her] taxonomy (as amusing as [she] finds it) doesn’t really matter to the average person.</quote>

Pantheon

  • Nicole Aschoff, theorist.
  • Sergey Brin, boffo.
  • Nick Bostrom, booster..
  • Alida Draudt, practice, Capital One; lesbian (“who techs”)
  • Daniel Drezner, theorist.
  • Robert Heinlein, theorist.
  • Steve Jobs, prophet.
  • Ray Kurzweil, a theorist; ex-practitioner: inventor credit, author credit.
  • Yann LeCun, practitioner; [a, the?] director of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Facebook.
  • Gordon Moore, practitioner; co-founder of Intel.
  • Elon Musk, boffo.
  • Larry Page, boffo.
  • Ayn Rand, theorist.
  • Peter Singer, theorist.
  • Eliezer Yudkowsky, expert, artificial intelligence.

Referenced

Previously

Argot

The Suitcase Words
  • artificial intelligence,
    omnipotent artificial intelligence.
  • consciousness,
    machines gain consciousness,
  • transcend,
    transcend to another plane of existence.
  • clones
  • futurism
  • American dream (American Dream)
  • status quo (pedestrian Latin as status quo)
  • without,
    without unions, public education, and social safety nets.
  • outcomes
  • mock,
    mock them,
    mock them for their silly sounding and overtly religious predictions
  • Google,
  • IBM
  • Ford
  • Department of Defense
  • My hope is that by better understanding the motivations and backgrounds of the people involved—however unscientifically—we can better prepare ourselves for the
  • struggle,
    political struggle,
    upcoming political struggle
  • narrative,
    whose narrative,
    whose narrative of the future
  • oligarchs,
    tech oligarchs
  • flying cars
  • live forever
  • workers,
    gig economy workers
  • health care,
    affordable health care
  • singularity
    The Singularity
  • singularity myths
  • computer,
    the computer
  • self-aware,
    self-aware and intelligent
  • vindictive
  • believe,
    believe fervently,
    futurists believe fervently,
    some futurists believe fervently in a singularity.
  • worried
  • theorize
  • excited
  • scared
  • cautious
  • jubilant
  • Utopianists
  • Dystopianists
  • libertarians
  • seasteaders (movement)
  • Moore’s Law
  • transistor
  • Singularity University
  • hardware,
    install hardware,
    install hardware in their brains,
    Futurists are ready to install hardware in their brains because <snip/> they have never been oppressed.
    Futurists are ready to install hardware in their brains because, as young or middle-age white men, they have never been oppressed.
  • hobbyists,
    these futurists are hobbyists..
  • theories
  • wealth
  • top 0.1 percent.
  • wealthier,
    become even wealthier,
    They think of the future in large part as a way to invest their money and become even wealthier.
  • worked,
    once worked at
  • own,
    own Silicon Valley companies,
    still own Silicon Valley companies, venture capital firms, or hedge funds.
  • think,
    think of themselves,
    think of themselves as deeply clever,
    think of themselves as deeply clever—possibly even wise.
  • meritocracy
  • wine,
    expensive wine
  • drug,
    drug of choice
  • riches,
    enormous riches,
    enormous riches and very few worldly concerns
  • death and disease.
  • augmenting,
    augmenting intelligence,
    augmenting intelligence through robotic assistance
  • quality,
    better quality of life,
    better quality of life through medical breakthroughs
  • cryogenics
  • Sergey Brin
  • Larry Page
  • people,
    young people,
    blood of young people.
  • worst-case scenario
  • uploaded,
    uploaded software in the cloud.
  • graphics,
    virtual reality graphics,
    excellent virtual reality graphics,
    control the excellent virtual reality graphics,
    they can control the excellent virtual reality graphics
    a place where they can control the excellent virtual reality graphics.
  • ideas
  • teenagers,
    sex-starved teenagers
  • Robert Heinlein
  • Ayn Rand
  • blind spot,
    “I win” blind spot
  • racism
  • sexism
  • classism
  • politics
  • technology,
    solved by technology
  • government,
    the next government,
    program the next government.
  • proprietary
  • hoi polloi,
    the hoi polloi
  • the system,
    gaming the system.
  • existence,
    the nature of existence,
    the nature of existence in the super-rich bubble
  • something,
    something distinctly modern,
    something distinctly modern and computer-oriented
  • futurism,
    futurism of this flavor,
    futurism of this flavor is inherently elitist, genius-obsessed, and dismissive of larger society.
  • men,
    the men,
    the men—majority men
  • women
  • science fiction,
    dystopian science fiction,
    read dystopian science fiction,
    read dystopian science fiction in their youth,
    read dystopian science fiction in their youth and think about all the things that could go wrong once the machines become self-aware,
    read dystopian science fiction in their youth and think about all the things that could go wrong once the machines become self-aware, which has a small (but positive!) probability of happening.
  • lesswrong.com,
  • Eliezer Yudkowsky
  • biases
  • philosophies,
    practical philosophies
  • Bayes’ Theorem
  • Roko’s basilisk
  • thought experiment
  • AI,
    an AI,
    a powerful AI,
    a superintelligent and powerful AI,
    a future superintelligent and powerful AI.
  • vindictive
  • hypothetical
  • Roko,
    Roko’s basilisk
  • AI,
    Friendly AI
  • singularity,
    a positive singularity
  • Effective Altruism,
    Effective Altruism movement
  • Peter Singer
  • Effective Altruists
  • suffering
  • responsibility,
    personal responsibility,
    personal responsibility for optimizing our money to improve the world.
  • parody
  • suffering
  • factions,
    factions believe
  • “existential risks”
  • events,
    futuristic events,
    unlikely futuristic events,
    unlikely futuristic events that are characterized by computations,
    unlikely futuristic events that are characterized by computations besieged by powers of ten,
    unlikely futuristic events that are characterized by computations besieged by powers of ten and could thus cause enormous suffering.
  • Nick Bostrom
  • Future of Humanity Institute
  • Elon Musk,
    shove Elon Musk,
    I will shove Elon Musk,
    I will shove Elon Musk into this Q2 group,
    I will shove Elon Musk into this Q2 group, even though he is not a perfect fit.
  • entrepreneur,
    an entrepreneur,
    a powerful entrepreneur,
    rich and powerful entrepreneur,
    an enormously rich and powerful entrepreneur,
    being an enormously rich and powerful entrepreneur, he probably belongs in the first group,
    being an enormously rich and powerful entrepreneur, he probably belongs in the first group, but he sometimes shows up at Effective Altruism events,
    being an enormously rich and powerful entrepreneur, he probably belongs in the first group, but he sometimes shows up at Effective Altruism events, and he has made noise recently about the computers getting mean,
    being an enormously rich and powerful entrepreneur, he probably belongs in the first group, but he sometimes shows up at Effective Altruism events, and he has made noise recently about the computers getting mean and launching us into World War III. The Guardian
  • cynics,
    The cynics,
    The cynics among us
  • Mars
  • technoutopianists.
  • Bitcoin
  • They are not super wealthy, but they aspire to be wealthier and more famous.
  • Follow the money here and you will find that they are what
  • “thought leaders,”
    single-idea merchants,
    single-idea merchants paid by oligarchs,
    single-idea merchants paid by oligarchs to feel special at TED or TED-like conferences.
  • The New Prophets of Capital
  • Nicole Aschoff
  • they,
    they will peddle,
    they will peddle whatever depoliticized fad captures the attention of the super rich at a given time.
  • Steve Jobs,
    Steve Jobs as their patron saint,
    Steve Jobs as their patron saint, they represent the American dream,
    Steve Jobs as their patron saint, they represent the American dream on overdrive
  • Steve Jobs,
    Steve Jobs as their patron saint,
    Steve Jobs as their patron saint, they represent the American dream,
    Steve Jobs as their patron saint, they represent the American dream on overdrive; They represent a disdain for the status quo,
    Steve Jobs as their patron saint, they represent the American dream on overdrive; They represent a disdain for the status quo and the notion that we can solve it all,
    Steve Jobs as their patron saint, they represent the American dream on overdrive; They represent a disdain for the status quo and the notion that we can solve it all without the old, outdated trappings of unions, public education, and social safety nets.
  • time,
    no time,
    they have no time,
    they have no time for taking on difficult questions,
    they have no time for taking on difficult questions of structural inequality,
    they have no time for taking on difficult questions of structural inequality that do not fade away with the wave of a magical wand.
  • selling,
    selling something,
    most obviously selling something,
    they are the type of futurist that is most obviously selling something,
    Far from actually fixing problems, they are the type of futurist that is most obviously selling something,
    Far from actually fixing problems, they are the type of futurist that is most obviously selling something: a corporate vision, blind faith in the titans of industry, and the sense of well-deserved success.
  • Alida Draudt
  • apital One
  • Lesbian Who Tech, a conference
  • “positive futures”
  • free,
    free credit,
    free credit for everyone.
  • women,
    more women,
    more women still,
    more women still in this group,
    There are more women still in this group …
  • control,
    control the conversation,
    their aim is to control the conversation,
    their aim is to control the conversation and,
    their aim is to control the conversation and, <snip/> to cause that future,
    their aim is to control the conversation and, <snip/> to cause that future, to become a fixed, normalized idea,
    their aim is to control the conversation and, <snip/> to cause that future, to become a fixed, normalized idea,
    their aim is to control the conversation and, <snip/> to cause that future, to become a fixed, normalized idea in our collective imagination,
    their aim is to control the conversation and, <snip/> to cause that future, to become a fixed, normalized idea in our collective imagination—even if that means a surveillance state,
    their aim is to control the conversation and, <snip/> to cause that future, to become a fixed, normalized idea in our collective imagination—even if that means a surveillance state with good shopping,
    their aim is to control the conversation and, in repeating predictions about the future often enough, to cause that future, to become a fixed, normalized idea in our collective imagination—even if that means a surveillance state with good shopping.
  • people
  • singularities
  • worried
  • women
  • group,
    my group
  • women,
    majority women,
    majority women, gay men,
    majority women, gay men, and people of color.
  • underrepresented,
    underrepresented at the data science institutes
    underrepresented at the data science institutes popping up all over the country
    underrepresented at the data science institutes popping up all over the country because the commercial goals of such places are inconsistent with our inconvenient cries of concern.
  • concerned,
    I am concerned,
    And I am concerned,
    And I am concerned.  Because <reasons>enumerated</reasons>.
  • personality tests
  • filter out
  • applicants,
    job applicants,
    qualified job applicants
  • algorithms,
    risk algorithms
    crime risk algorithms,
    crime risk algorithms that convince judges,
    crime risk algorithms that convince judges to issue longer sentences.
  • algorithms,
    automated algorithms
  • processes,
    decision making processes,
    human decision making processes,
    important human decision making processes,
    most important human decision making processes,
    our most important human decision making processes,
    replacing our most important human decision making processes,
    already replacing our most important human decision making processes.
  • future,
    hypothetical future,
    hypothetical future of human suffering.
  • class
  • race
  • age
  • disability
  • eduation
  • measures,
    demographic measures,
    other demographic measures.
  • futurists
  • fantasies,
    sci-fi fantasies.
  • futurism,
    the heart of futurism,
    the heart of futurism lies money, influence, political power,
    the heart of futurism lies money, influence, political power, and access to the algorithms,
    the heart of futurism lies money, influence, political power, and access to the algorithms that increasingly rule our private, political, and professional lives.
  • Yann LeCun
  • Facebook
  • Go,
    the game Go,
    the study of the game Go
  • algorithm,
    a machine-learning algorithm
  • algorithm,
    the Facebook algorithm,
    the Facebook algorithm is already sufficiently powerful to manipulate our democracy.
  • the Q1 technologists
  • the Q3 technoutopianists
  • chess
  • Go
  • future,
    the future,
    picture of the future,
    pretty picture of the future,
    their pretty picture of the future,
    painting their pretty picture of the future.
  • success,
    what success looks like
  • clarity of purpose
  • model of success
  • world,
    hypothetical world,
    In a hypothetical world where…
    In a hypothetical world where people could live forever,
    In a hypothetical world where people could live forever—gobbling up resources indefinitely,
    In a hypothetical world where people could live forever—gobbling up resources indefinitely and exerting political influence,
    In a hypothetical world where people could live forever—gobbling up resources indefinitely and exerting political influence with outdated political frameworks,
    In a hypothetical world where people could live forever—gobbling up resources indefinitely and exerting political influence with outdated political frameworks—should we allow them to?
  • person,
    average person.
  • decision,
    automated decision.
  • Starbucks Scheduling System
  • algorithms,
    the algorithms,
    the algorithms that already charge people with low FICO scores more for insurance.
  • algorithms,
    the algorithms,
    the algorithms that already send black people to prison for longer.
  • algorithms,
    the algorithms,
    the algorithms that send more police to already over-policed neighborhoods.
  • algorithms,
    the algorithms,
    the algorithms with facial recognition cameras at every corner.
  • power,
    old fashioned power,
    look like old fashioned power,
    all of these look like old fashioned power,
    all of these look like old fashioned power to the person who is being judged.
  • power
  • influence
  • scenario,
    worst-case scenario
  • AI,
    vindictive AI,
    a vindictive AI
  • Sergey Brin
  • birthday,
    two-hundredth birthday.
  • scenario,
    worst-case scenario
  • capitalism,
    e-capitalism.
  • elite,
    member of the elite,
    skeptical member of the elite,
    not a skeptical member of the elite in sight.

Previously filled.

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