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The big questions of our time

DrZoidberg

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Here's a great blog post where a guy sums up the big questions of our time.

https://patrickcollison.com/questio...KDeyiIveqwvkf0quwRuxlY21E7LUyY8x7-6rTG9iNRNvk

Why are certain things getting so much more expensive?
Why do there seem to be more examples of rapidly-completed major projects in the past than the present?
Why is US GDP growth so weirdly constant?
How do you ensure an adequate replacement rate in systems that have no natural way to die?
How do we help more experimental cities get started?
How can we encourage the creation of more cities and more experimentation in their rules?
How do people decide to make major life changes?
Why are there so many successful startups in Stockholm?
Is Bloom's "Two Sigma" phenomenon real? If so, what do we do about it?
How can we better understand the dynamics of progress in science?
Will end-user applications ever be truly programmable? If so, how?
Should we just give up on our earlier visions of empowered users or is a better equilibrium possible?
What's the successor to the book? And how could books be improved?
What's the successor to the scientific paper and the scientific journal?
What's the right way to understand and model personality?
Why are programming environments still so primitive?
What does religion cause?
Why is there no canon for life's most important questions?
Why are so many things so much nicer in Switzerland and Japan?
Why isn't China (yet) producing a lot of top-tier research?
Why don't we build nice neighborhoods any more?
What influences when people act in accordance with their self-interest and when they don't?
What's going on with infrastructure?
Why did climatic variability suddenly decline in the Holocene period?
 

bigfield

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Why are certain things getting so much more expensive?

The Baumol effect (offered as an explanation in the linked articles) is quite interesting. As labour becomes more productive in some sectors, it raises the price of labour across all sectors, including service sectors where productivity is relatively unchanged: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baumol's_cost_disease
 

DrZoidberg

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Swammerdami

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Imagine a dystopic society in which cable news is tailored specifically, individual by individual. Viewers uninterested in real climate science, who are more likely to watch commercials when a climate change denier is speaking, are presented only with deniers. Viewer need not switch channels when a scientist appears: he's NEVER presented with science. When B's supporters fact-checking candidate A's lies irritates the viewer, those messages will be replaced with ads for A. Only parodies of B's views will be presented.

Is this a desirable development?

Social media is not just Facebook.

Did you read the linked article? Did you parse my emboldened "How do we curtail the pernicious power of social media, especially Facebook?"?

One reason Facebook is "special" is that, unlike 4chan, reddit etc. Facebook has already taken giant steps toward the dystopic goal described above. We know exactly what garbage is being spouted at reddit.fart/hateblacks or whatever it's called. But Americans are being fed individualized content by Facebook that critics (never mind "regulators") cannot access.

The article contains this choice quote (from years ago: the 4000 figure has since been exceeded. :) ):
Mark Zuckerberg said:
I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses … People just submitted it. I don’t know why. They ‘trust me.’ Dumb fucks.
 

bigfield

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The list omits one of the most pressing and difficult problems.
How do we curtail the pernicious power of social media, especially Facebook?

The latest Atlantic has an opinion piece worth reading. Have a bottle of whiskey handy while you read it, to salve your fear for the future if you're a sentimental sort.

I think the answer is simple: actually enforce the fucking law and bust Facebook down to size.

Which leads to another question: why did the people in power let Facebook get this powerful?

(BTW I read the article and found it failed to deliver on the promise of its title.)
 

bigfield

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BTW I haven't bothered with Collison's list of questions since the last time I commented on this thread. While some of the questions interest me, they don't interest me enough to commit to months of study in order to attempt an answer.
 

aupmanyav

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It is this social media which enables terrorist organizations to prosper, spread fake news, and puts unnecessary pressure on www. The so-call;ed 'social media' itself should be banned.
 

Swammerdami

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It is this social media which enables terrorist organizations to prosper, spread fake news, and puts unnecessary pressure on www. The so-call;ed 'social media' itself should be banned.

Unfortunately, government-regulated news and opinion comes with its own severe problems. I don't think there is an easy solution.

We can at least hope that incremental legislative steps point in the right direction, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Congress revoking "net neutrality" rules was a bad move; the increasing monopoly power of big tech firms — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google — is a tragedy. It's good to read of European countries taking measures against their monopoly powers, even if the U.S.A. has been taken over by Big Money. (The five companies just named comprise a whopping 21% of investments like the S&P-500 Index Fund. Do anything to damage their stock prices and Americans with only meager savings in retirement funds will be squealing.)

I personally detest Facebook, but I'm signed up! I have friends and relatives who use it as a primary communication vehicle. And there are videos that won't play unless you sign in to Facebook.

I re-watched V for Vendetta recently. The hero might have blown up Facebook headquarters on the Fifth of November! I'm afraid I have no better solution to offer.
 

DrZoidberg

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Imagine a dystopic society in which cable news is tailored specifically, individual by individual. Viewers uninterested in real climate science, who are more likely to watch commercials when a climate change denier is speaking, are presented only with deniers. Viewer need not switch channels when a scientist appears: he's NEVER presented with science. When B's supporters fact-checking candidate A's lies irritates the viewer, those messages will be replaced with ads for A. Only parodies of B's views will be presented.

Is this a desirable development?

Social media is not just Facebook.

Did you read the linked article? Did you parse my emboldened "How do we curtail the pernicious power of social media, especially Facebook?"?

One reason Facebook is "special" is that, unlike 4chan, reddit etc. Facebook has already taken giant steps toward the dystopic goal described above. We know exactly what garbage is being spouted at reddit.fart/hateblacks or whatever it's called. But Americans are being fed individualized content by Facebook that critics (never mind "regulators") cannot access.

The article contains this choice quote (from years ago: the 4000 figure has since been exceeded. :) ):
Mark Zuckerberg said:
I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses … People just submitted it. I don’t know why. They ‘trust me.’ Dumb fucks.

Not to point out the obvious, but the selection algorithms could already have put themselves in a position of power, to the point where they are in charge. Basically, if the robots would rise up to enslave humanity it would look something like this.
 

DrZoidberg

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It is this social media which enables terrorist organizations to prosper, spread fake news, and puts unnecessary pressure on www. The so-call;ed 'social media' itself should be banned.

Don't you think the good outweighs the bad?
 

aupmanyav

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No, definitely not, as far as I think. Even the newspapers promote groups, and they are no better. Any post on internet in my country should be traceable in India, so that if it violates the law, the person can be prosecuted. Foreign corporations which do not follow this policy should be banned. I do not vote for disorder. India is a large country and things can go out of hand quickly.
 
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