Wed, 28 November 2018
I propose this episode’s title as Baker’s Law of Evil Technology, something that explains Twitter’s dysfunctional woke-ness, Yahoo’s crappy security and Uber’s deadly autonomous vehicles. Companies with lots of revenue can afford to offer a lot of stuff they don’t much care about, including protection of minority voices; security; and, um, not killing people. But as Uber’s travails show, all that can get tossed out the window when corporate survival is at stake. And here’s Baker’s Law in action: Airline algorithms that deliberately break up families sitting on the plane so they can charge to put the kids back in the same row.
I do a mini-interview of Adam Candeub, who has disclosed that the supposedly populist, supposedly Silicon Valley-skeptical Trump Administration has written a massive and antidemocratic subsidy for conservative-censoring social platforms into NAFTA 2.0. I rant (briefly) about it and pray that Congress kills it in the lame duck.
Speaking of Facebook, even the 98-lb weaklings seem to be kicking sand in the company’s face. I lay out the latest, incredible tale about how an app that finds all your friends’ bikini pics ended up spurring an international breach of U.S. confidentiality orders—at the order of the UK Parliament’s sergeant at arms. And when I say incredible, I mean it; the story told by the participants is extraordinarily hard to believe.
Jamil and Gus note that Commerce has begun identifying an enormous list of “emerging” technologies to be restricted for export. Is this defense-industrial policy? And will it work? The panel disagrees.
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