The vast blind-spot that makes Tim O’Reilly not worth listening to about anything

“But I’m optimistic because we’re having a conversation about biased algorithms. We had plenty of bias before but we couldn’t see it. We can’t see, for example, that the algorithms that manage the workers at McDonald’s or The Gap are optimized toward not giving people full-time work so they don’t have to pay benefits. All that was invisible. It wasn’t until we really started seeing the tech-infused algorithms that people started being critical.” From: Algorithms Have Already Gone Rogue | WIRED {Emphasis ours}

As someone who’s been on the internet for a long time, I had generally positive feelings towards Tim O’Reilly, but this is some buuuullll sheeeeit. We didn’t see that employers deliberately fuck with employee hours to avoid paying them benefits? People weren’t being critical about that until “tech” showed them they should be? What “we” are you referring to, Tim? What “people” specifically?

Have you never worked at McDonalds, or met anyone who has? This problem is well known amongst the people directly effected by it, you over-privileged so-and-so. You didn’t need “tech” to tell you that low-wage workers are being fucked over by their employers — you just needed to have a conversation with one — if you’re lucky enough to never have actually been one, yourself.

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Fires

“A swarm of fires supercharged by powerful winds ripped through Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties Monday, killing at least 11 people, injuring dozens of others, destroying more than 1,500 homes and businesses, and turning prominent wineries to ash. Starting in the middle of the night, the fires hopscotched across neighborhoods, raced across fields and jumped freeways. Wind gusts up to 70 mph pushed walls of flames nearly 100 feet high, throwing embers ahead like hot fingers into strip malls and subdivisions. Many people who fled the surge had enough time to grab car keys, perhaps a pet, but not much more. And some didn’t get out.” SF Chronicle: 11 dead as Wine Country fires burn at least 1,500 structures, force evacuations – San Francisco Chronicle

Approaches

Now is probably a good time to discuss the concept of “motivated reasoning.” By all means, read that article when you have the time, but the quick explanation of what motivated reasoning is, is this: Start with the answer you want, then reject all contradictory data.

Everybody uses motivated reasoning at one point or another. You’ve seen it before. You’re seeing it right now. It’s quite easy to spot such behavior when observing people other than yourself, but it’s fiendishly difficult to know when you’re engaging in motivated reasoning in your own head. And that’s a problem.

A big problem. What appear to you as hypocritical, malicious, deceptive, and transparently stupid and wrong arguments from the people on the opposing side of a ideological discussion, feel to them like warm, comforting, soothing, impregnable bulwarks against all of the terrifying evidence that suggests they might be wrong. Every bad idea has its defenders, armed to the teeth with bias and motivated reasoning, suicidally committed to the cause.

Which gets people fucking killed.

Which just motivates them to even stronger commitment, lest they accept responsibility for the pointless deaths to which they’ve contributed.

And we’re trapped. Motivated reasoning is baked into the human brain, and requires great effort to even notice in ourselves, never mind the monumental task it is trying to overcome it. Most people don’t bother. Most people believe they deserve what they have, that their hands are clean, and that the money in their bank account isn’t blood money.

Someone built those guns. Someone sold them. Someone got rich off them. Someone is now spending money hand over fist to your government to ensure that they get to keep getting rich. And they’re happy. And they sleep like babies.

R.I.P. Tom Petty

“Tom Petty, the influential singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who achieved great success both as a solo artist and with his band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, has died. Petty was rushed to the hospital late last night after being found unconscious and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home; he was taken to the UCLA Santa Monica hospital, where he was taken off of life support after it was confirmed that he had no brain activity, according to TMZ. The news of Petty’s death was confirmed shortly thereafter by the Los Angeles Police Department, as cited in The Daily Beast. He was 66.” A.V. Club: R.I.P. Tom Petty