NICE GUYS FINISH LAST
I’m not in opposition to “big” things. I am, however, fearful of “big” things going bad. Hedge funds losing billions of dollars (Knight Capital) and having the stones to ask for their money back. Brian Hunter of Aramanth losing $6 billion. Big moves can lead to big mistakes. Torch Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world, where catching fire on a regular basis is the norm. The Titanic, which was the biggest ocean liner in the world, within a short period of time, became the biggest ocean liner at the bottom of the Atlantic.
Make no mistake about it; we are in the era of Big Data. Data collected on every click you make, every time you press a key on your keyboard. Insight, pattern recognition and projection, all aspects of human intelligence, are being performed by machines that may or may not be making the best of judgments.
Amazon, eBay, and a host of others are showing you things that you might be interested in buying. As they show you the things you want, the brick and mortar outlets are dying, one by one. Chalk another one up to progress. Facebook changed their privacy policies time and time again, each time revealing more and more of your “private” information, to make money, of course.
I love the commercials (obviously a public relations campaign) that say they want to go back to where they began, just between you and your friends. Facebook is being investigated by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) for revealing information to Cambridge Analytica, selling the details of seventy-one million American Americans. The flaws are not in the computers; they are in the character of the people programming them, selling the information, and of course, making billions in the process.
The flaws are not in the computers; they are in the character of the people using them to sell our data for billions in profit.
My theory of long ago is becoming more and more of interest, and that is selling your information to the people who are making money on it. Your internet searches are making people rich, and you’re not getting a dime out of it. So they do you a favor by showing you things you might want to buy, a small concession compared to what they are making on your dime, your dime being all the information that you are giving them, for free. Like many bad deals, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but time reveals the error of our ways and the flaws in our decisions.
Traditional advertising and the firms that used to control it are fading fast, with digital marketing coming of age, in the age of Big Data. Big Data has not been able to control fake news, or maybe they’re just making so much money from it, they don’t care if it is fake.
So many of these big things have gone wrong; not because of machines that are not making judgments, but because of the character, or lack of character, of those who control it. They’re letting all of this go unchallenged, because, well, if people cannot discern what is truth and what is falsehood, they are not in a position to make that judgment for them. Urban legends are becoming undisputed facts.
As much as I hate regulation, I am almost in favor of everyone on the internet being forced to have an identity. Your computer on the internet has an identity, whether you know it or not. Someone claiming to be from “Microsoft” told me the identification number of my computer, and I am awfully sure I never volunteered that information.
Holocaust deniers, pals of Putin, and religious extremists are just a few of the trolls we find on the internet. The “cloud” a semi-mythical collection of servers somewhere, is guaranteeing the safety of your information, so go ahead and store it there. When the cloud (do we capitalize it, is it a pronoun?) gets breached, I’m sure they’ll have a heartfelt explanation of why it will never happen again.
Imagine having all of that information, and, let’s see, can’t we just sell a little of it? It wouldn’t be that bad would it?
Cryptocurrencies are being hacked on a daily basis.
Cryptocurrencies are being hacked on a daily basis, according to The Wall Street Journal. This brings us around to something that the believers of bigger is better are loathe to admit, and that is sooner or later the lack of character found in humans will transfer to the bigger is better technology.
We have already seen it in Facebook, as well as the trolls spouting fake news. The objectivity of Journal. This brings us around to something that the believers of bigger is better are loathe to admit, and that is sooner or later the lack of character found in humans will transfer to the bigger is better technology.computers pales to the greed of the programmers and those controlling the information.
Bigger is not always more efficient. Consider some of the big corporations that have fallen apart. My favorite is General Electric, and American icon, be taken off the Dow Jones Industrial list. It was too big, and became inefficient, not to mention that its stock never recovered to anywhere near the price I paid for it, even after giving Jeff Immelt over a decade to turn things around, all the while Jeff was pulling in millions in salary and bonuses.
General Electric is selling off divisions, because even when it controlled a lot of aspects, it just wasn’t efficient. In terms of efficiency, the more efficient any organization becomes, the more the top brass earns, but it does little for the average worker.
Efficiency, at least historically, does little for the common worker, and if you don’t believe that, understand this, from the book, The Efficiency Paradox by Smithsonian Institution scholar Edward Tenner: “pay became far more unequal, those at the top accelerating away from everyone else.” This would also explain the increase in efficiency of businesses in the U.S. and the stagnation of average blue-collar workers for the past few decades.
Some would say that those working more efficiently should share in the increased wealth, but that has not been the case, you know, that idea that we are all working for the same organization, therefore we all made it happen, we are all were part of the profits? Not according to the few at the top. Recent wage stagnation and soaring CEO compensation explained; it is the character of those in control. As one professor said some time ago, if they can’t get compensation right, imagine what else they can’t get right.
We are seeing the flaws of the new “big data” executives, and the government is none too happy about it, and that is good. They saw the money, and they couldn’t restrain themselves. If the government must restrain them, and even force them to surrender funds obtained by illegal means, then I for one, do not feel sorry for them.
The genie is out of the bottle, there is no putting it back. We do, however, have the power to foresee situations where someone with a flawed character might exploit the information for their own corrupt means, and the computers will not likely identify that, because to a computer, information is just that, information.
Ethics and character remain human traits, that’s why there are laws.
Knowledge is power, and power corrupts.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary