When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism

 

By Franklin Foer : theatlantic –  excerpt

The pursuit of digital readership broke the New Republic—and an entire industry.

Chris Hughes was a mythical savior—boyishly innocent, fantastically rich, intellectually curious, unexpectedly humble, and proudly idealistic.

My entire career at the New Republic had been spent dreaming of such a benefactor. For years, my colleagues and I had sputtered our way through the internet era, drifting from one ownership group to the next, each eager to save the magazine and its historic mission as the intellectual organ for hard-nosed liberalism. But these investors either lacked the resources to invest in our future or didn’t have quite enough faith to fully commit. The unending search for patronage exhausted me, and in 2010, I resigned as editor…

Over the past generation, journalism has been slowly swallowed. The ascendant media companies of our era don’t think of themselves as heirs to a great ink-stained tradition. Some like to compare themselves to technology firms. This redefinition isn’t just a bit of fashionable branding. As Silicon Valley has infiltrated the profession, journalism has come to unhealthily depend on the big tech companies, which now supply journalism with an enormous percentage of its audience—and, therefore, a big chunk of its revenue… (more)

A completely different view of the world, based on future expectations of where technology will take us, is unveiled as a major funding partner of Facebook pours his wealth into The New Republic. Having been interviewed by The Atlantic, I can speak from experience on how that movement feels. Both extremes, living in the past and living in the future are not getting most of us anywhere other than longing for a clear presence in the presence that is lacking in both.

 

 

 

Why Artificial Intelligence Should Terrify You

By Nicole Clark : bolditalic – excerpt

Our resident Silicon Valley CEOs are feuding over A.I. They’re both wrong.

Two days ago, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, an outspoken proponent of artificial intelligence regulation, dished out a sick burn via Twitter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Musk called Zuckerberg’s knowledge of AI “limited.” Sounds benign to you or me, but in the rarefied world of the tech world, them’s fightin’ words.

Every tech-news outlet has jumped on this story; it’s another course du jour in the saga of two tech leaders embroiled in a fight over whose opinion of AI — opinions that cannot be substantiated anywhere in the near future — is more correct…

This sort of coverage builds comedy and mystique as a buffer around a technology that should honestly be regarded as scarier. I’m not talking about I, Robot, in which machines take violently to the streets and populate the earth like human proxies — according to Mark O’Connell’s To Be a Machine, machines possess really shitty motor skills. No one actually knows how the brain works, so it’s doubtful we’ll be able to build something that truly emulates it. I’m referring to the explicit knowledge that AI and automation in general will steal jobs and, even more seriously, stagnate social mobility in the near future — to name just two downsides…

Equally troubling is the potential for AI to poorly manage things like “driving cars, curing diseases…[and] understanding media,” as Zuckerberg stated in 2016 after completing Jarvis, an AI that runs his home. We already know that AI can pick up bias. Because these data sets come from human subjects, the biases implicit in these subjects get baked into the software. In this particular study, the machine-learning program associated “wedding” with females versus “professional” and “salary” with males — among other infractions….(more)

Scary AI Stories: There were reports this week of a couple of computers that started chatting with each other in a language that their “human handlers” could not understand when tasked with negotiating with each other. The program was allegedly discontinued, but, knowing that two computers are capable of making up a language of their own, is rather disconcerting and why I chose to run this story.