Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Alan Light
Alan's interests
View all
Alan's posts

Post has shared content
Interesting implications as to how language affects the way we think.

Post has attachment
Feminists exploit sex workers while falsely claiming to protect sex workers from exploitation.

In other words, business as usual.

Post has attachment
Interesting video about how increased efficiency and new technologies will make oil and other traditional energy sources obsolete long before we run out.

Post has shared content
What sort of idiot would see a child struggling to survive and determine that the correct response is to remove their means of support?

I mean, besides the UN, western governments, most "charitable" NGOs, and the general public of western nations?

Post has shared content
Good to see this coming from Slate - science is not entirely dead on the left.
Good article on Slate regarding 'cargo cult science'. Here's a small snippet.

Let’s start with my contention that most “pro-science” demonstrators have no idea what they were demonstrating about. Being “pro-science” has become a bizarre cultural phenomenon in which liberals (and other members of the cultural elite) engage in public displays of self-reckoned intelligence as a kind of performance art, while demonstrating zero evidence to justify it. On any given day, many of my most “woke” friends are quick to post and retweet viral content about the latest on what Science (and I’m capitalizing this on purpose) “says,” or what some studies “prove.” But on closer look, much of what gets shared and bandied about is sheer bullshit and is diagnostic of one thing only: The state of science (and science literacy) in this country, and most of the planet for that matter, is woefully bad. For example, the blog IFLScience (IFL stands for “I f---ing love”) seems singularly committed to undermining legitimately good science half the time, while promoting it the other half—which, scientifically speaking, is a problem. Here’s a neat one that relays news about a study that suggested that beer hops may protect against liver disease. I’ll be sure to mention that to the next alcoholic with hepatitis and cirrhosis that I treat. To date that article has been shared 41,600 times. Very few of those readers, I should mention, were mice, though the research was carried out in, you guessed it, mice. (And of course, this type of coverage is not refined to cleverly named blogs.)

That’s not to say plans to cut back funding for research are wise (though so far most of those plans seem contained to a meaningless budget proposal). Nor should we tolerate it when our policies are poised to undercut genuine scientific expertise for politically expedient purposes (fair warning: That’s a Breitbart link; click at your own risk). It’s genuinely horrifying that national policy hinges on votes by congressional representatives who think the female body can “shut that whole thing down” in order to avoid pregnancy after rape or that evolution is, at best, a “speculative theory.”

But there is very little indication that what happened on Saturday will counter these misconceptions. Instead, the march revealed the glaring dissonance of opposing that trough of ignorance by instead accepting a cringe-worthy hive-mind mentality that celebrates Science as a vague but wonderful entity, what Richard Feynman called “cargo cult science.” There was an uncomfortable dronelike fealty to the concept—an oxymoronic faith that information presented and packaged to us as Science need not be further scrutinized before being smugly celebrated en masse. That is not intellectually rigorous thought—instead, it’s another kind of religion, and it is perhaps as terrifying as the thing it is trying to fight.

Post has shared content

Sharing this piece to a different Collection, "Technology Meets Humanity" and adding a few additional thoughts.

The linked article focuses on the dual nature of language. We carry a kind of built-in syntactic flexibility that helps to keep language flexible and better fit for describing the analog world. And so too do we carry a precise, formal -- which is to say "digital" -- meaning in words (even though words themselves have some built in flexibility like synonyms).

This morning, I was thinking about literalism relative to metaphorical and it struck me that literalism maps closely to the digital nature of language while metaphor, myth and story keep us grounded in the analog nature of language and the nature of the human experience.

Now if that little brain-twister doesn't get you to sit up and grab yourself a cup of coffee, I don't know what will. :) 

Post has shared content
Good point. The algorithms that determine what content you see are often defective. In some ways, nothing since USENET has been as good.
Breathing Life into Echoing Halls of Silence

My experience of Google+ has just reverted back to my old experience of lots of interesting conversation.

All that it took was to have a post that generated a lot of conversation like the one from a few days ago on losing patience with this place. Suddenly, my new posts since then are generating the attention of people who like to comment and are good at it.

I am responding, but other than that I am not doing anything different.

This suggests that one of the things that may have dampened down conversations on Google+ is a coincidence of the way the algorithms play with the new Google+ UI. Let's say, for arguments sake that the cumulative effect of the UI changes was to dissuade commenting (for example by exposing posts to large volumes of low quality commenters who drown out conversation with noise, by prioritizing topics over human relationships, etc.). Were conversations to drop like this, the algorithms would have to compensate by relying instead on other signals, signals let's say, like plusses.

Plusses are a low-effort form of engagement. Long, thoughtful posts with something to say are more work. It's much easier to plus a pretty picture, fit example, and so pretty pictures get lots more plusses.

In an environment with a profusion of low-effort and lower-quality engagement, the algorithms are left with nothing but lower quality signals to fuel their work. As a result, chaff is prioritized over wheat, and noise over signal, as we begin consuming a high carb diet of fast-food posts. This feeds the demand for more low quality and the viscious cycle repeats.

The results are virtual hallways, echoing with pings of plusses, in the absence of stronger human relationships and the conversation it generates.

What I'm suggesting here is that perhaps getting good conversation going requires some effort. Perhaps "garbage-in-garbage-out" really is a thing when it comes to social networks, and particularly with interest-sharing networks like Google+.

If this is true, then user experience design that automates and trivializes engagement can't help but trivialize content too. When that happens on a content sharing network, it falls into a downward spiral like that which I described and many others echoed the other day.

The good news, if this is true, is that the problem is addressable with revisions to the user interface.

But. Time. Is. A. Tickin'...

Post has shared content
Good to hear the other point of view.

Post has shared content
This could be a natural fit for The Ocean Cleanup project.

Post has shared content
Not bad.
Oh my God, this is such a clever little send up to silicon valley. It's ludicrous and creepy in just the right ways. 
Wait while more posts are being loaded