Political Awareness In The Facebook Age

Published in Online Spin, July 22nd, 2016


We’re just finished one presidential convention, heading toward another -- and it’s not my job to discuss the candidates or their positions. Instead, I want to discuss the way we come to conclusions about the candidates and their positions: the quality of our data, the depth of our knowledge, the level of our ability to make informed decisions.

The problem is filter bubbles, and I’ve talked about them before.

137 Million Reasons We Should Be Terrified Of Technological Unemployment

Published in Online Spin, July 8th, 2016

It’s been called the “elephant graph”: starting low at the tail on the left, gradually rising up to the top of the elephant’s head, sliding down his face and then back up as if he were raising his nose proudly.

What it’s charting is global cumulative real income growth during the 20-year period from 1988 to 2008: how much people’s income has gone up or down, at every percentile, around the world. I spotted it in an article by Branko Milanovic, visiting presidential professor, Graduate Center, University of New York and senior scholar, Luxembourg Income Center. Yunno, one of those “experts.”

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Waze, Google, Facebook: The Observer Effect And Our Interconnected, Co-Created Reality

Published in Online Spin, June 24, 2016

Editor's Note: This post was previously published in an earlier edition of Online Spin.

“[L]ooking into a flower, you can see that the flower is made of many elements that we can call non-flower elements… [C]loud is part of flower, and if you send the element cloud back to the sky, there will be no flower… And earth, and gardener… if you continue, you will see a multitude of non-flower elements in the flower. In fact, a flower is made only with non-flower elements. It does not have a separate self....

What Apple Really Bought With Its Billion-Dollar Bet On Didi

Published in Online Spin, June 10, 2016

A month ago, Apple invested a billion dollars in Chinese ride-sharing business Didi Chuxing. Not an AI play. Not a chatbot play. Not a wearable, VR, music or a telecommunications play. Chinese ride-sharing. Which begged the question: “Um, why?”
I read all the analysis. It wasn’t particularly satisfying. Business Insider offered vague non-answers, reporting that, according to Didi president Jean Liu, “the two will be working closely together,” and going on to say it was very unclear exactly what that meant.

Kaila's Internet Reading List

Published in Online Spin, May 27, 2016


They used to read! 

They’d read and read, 

And read and read, and then proceed 

To read some more! 

Great Scott! Gadzooks! 

One half their lives was reading books! -Roald Dahl, Television

Isn’t reading glorious?

When Watson Comes For Your Job, Give It To Him

Published in Online Spin, May 13, 2016

It has begun.

A week ago, the venerable law firm BakerHostetler announced a new hire, Ross. Ross is joining the bankruptcy department of the 100-year-old firm. Despite being new to practicing law -- BakerHostetler is Ross’ first job -- Ross brings a myriad of skills to the role. In addition to reading and understanding language, Ross can also “postulate hypotheses when asked questions, research, and then generate responses (along with references and citations) to back up its conclusions.”

Google, Amazon and Netflix Are A New Breed Of Monopoly; Same As The Old Breed

Published in Online Spin, April 29, 2016

The year is 1927.

You live in Chicago, where you’re about to open a small convenience store. You’ve carefully stocked the shelves, lovingly arranged the window displays, painstakingly painted your signage. You’re ready to open for business. There’s just one more thing to sort out: how to handle your garbage.

Of Course Facebook Will Want Your Credit Card -- And Of Course, You'll Give It To Them

Published in Online Spin, April 15, 2016


I’m at the counter and I’ve just ordered my coffee. “That’ll be five bucks,” says the lady at the register. I hold my credit card to the machine for a second or two, it beeps, and I turn to go.

“You use that system?” my friend asks, dubiously. “You bet,” I say. “It’s amazing what I’ll do to save a few seconds.” It’s something I only noticed once I started using Uber: the startling feeling of luxury and sense of satisfaction I get from arriving at my destination and simply emerging from the vehicle like a movie star at the Oscars. No pedestrian wallet-fumbling for me, thanks. My people have it covered.

AlphaGo Might Be The Most Effective Marketing Campaign Ever

Published in Online Spin, April 1, 2016


The Los Angeles Times  said, “The results are in and history has been made… [This development] brings to a close the era of board games as benchmarks in computing.”

The milestone “was supposed to be 10 years away,” said Vox. “In Two Moves,” trumpeted Wired, “AlphaGo And Lee Sedol Redefined The Future.”

Today Pizzabots, Tomorrow The Future: Autonomous Cars Coming Fast

Published in Online Spin, March 18, 2016


I think we need a new word for “future.” When I hear people talking about “the future,” I usually make a couple of baseless assumptions: It’s in my lifetime, but far enough away that I don’t really have to worry about it. Maybe 20 or 30 years. Maybe more.

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