So, I would like to propose another metaphor for the risks of artificial intelligence. I suggest that we think about A.I. as a management-consulting firm, along the lines of McKinsey & Company. Firms like McKinsey are hired for a wide variety of reasons, and A.I. systems are used for many reasons, too. But the similarities between McKinsey — a consulting firm that works with ninety per cent of the Fortune 100 — and A.I. are also clear. Social-media companies use machine learning to keep users glued to their feeds. In a similar way, Purdue Pharma used McKinsey to figure out how to “turbocharge” sales of OxyContin during the opioid epidemic. Just as A.I. promises to offer managers a cheap replacement for human workers, so McKinsey and similar firms helped normalize the practice of mass layoffs as a way of increasing stock prices and executive compensation, contributing to the destruction of the middle class in America.
A former McKinsey employee has described the company as “capital’s willing executioners”: if you want something done but don’t want to get your hands dirty, McKinsey will do it for you. That escape from accountability is one of the most valuable services that management consultancies provide. Bosses have certain goals, but don’t want to be blamed for doing what’s necessary to achieve those goals; by hiring consultants, management can say that they were just following independent, expert advice. Even in its current rudimentary form, A.I. has become a way for a company to evade responsibility by saying that it’s just doing what “the algorithm” says, even though it was the company that commissioned the algorithm in the first place.Via Kottke
How solar energy got so cheap
The Rules for Rulers
“We’re constantly being told that doing anything about the astronomical growth and the average size of motor vehicles would infringe on the freedoms of people to do whatever they want. But your freedom to swing your arm ends where my face begins, and SUVs are a giant punch in the face to everyone who doesn’t drive one. …
Over a ten-year period, over 500 American children were killed by being run over by SUVs – usually by their own parents, in their own driveways. This is insane! This is legitimately insane in any civilized society. This information alone would be enough to regulate the hood design of SUVs and light trucks, but instead the industry solution for this is proximity sensors and front-facing cameras, because car companies are happy for any regulations that means they can sell you more stuff. …
In the early days, most SUV buyers were arseholes. I’m not being flippant in suggesting that all SUV drivers were arsehole, but arseholes were literally the primary target market. When automakers wanted to make SUVs mainstream, auto industry research determined that the average light truck purchaser was obsessed with status, less likely to volunteer or feel a strong connection to their communities, less giving, less oriented toward others, more afraid of crime, more likely to text and drive, [and] more likely to take risks while driving. …
I really struggle to understand how a [European] DHL delivery driver can do his job with a [Renault] Kangoo van, but a middle-aged suburbanite thinks they need a Chevy Silverado [truck] to buy groceries. … One of these vehicles is designed to efficiently carry lots of useful stuff, while the other is designed to carry fragile egos.”Source: Dense Discovery and Not Just Bikes.
Jon Stewart calmly dismantles gun zealot