Home > Uncategorized > Lethal Autonomous Weapons and the Occupy Book Club

Lethal Autonomous Weapons and the Occupy Book Club

November 30, 2017

Bloomberg View

My newest Bloomberg piece is out, in which I consider the problem of false negatives in the context of love and war:

False Negatives Can Be a Matter of Life and Death

Algorithms will repeat our mistakes unless we know what we’re missing.

You can see all of my Bloomberg View pieces here.

Book Club!

I also wanted to announce that my Occupy group Alt Banking is starting a book club. We’re meeting this Sunday from 2-3pm at Columbia (room 409 of the International Affairs Building at Amsterdam and 118th), and we’re discussing the introductions and first chapters of the two following books:

  1. Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman, available for free online
  2. Capitalism and Slavery by Eric Williams, which also seems to be available online.

Please join us, we welcome everyone and anyone!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Lars
    December 1, 2017 at 10:30 am

    The assumption that “algorithms give wrong answers because they inadvertently miss information” is not necessarily valid.

    Sometimes algorithms are actually designed to “miss” information and the answers they give are actually the “right” ones for those who design and use them.

    I know Cathy has made this point many times, but it’s worth hammering home that, with the exception of algorithms that deal purely with mathematical objects (eg, for sorting integers), algorithms are NEVER objective because there are ALWAYS built in assumptions programmed in from the getgo.

    Acknowledging that simple truth immediately raises the question of precisely what those assumptions are. For example, with an algorithm to count “civilian deaths”, who is considered a civilian?

    To modify a famous phrase:

    All algorithms that deal with humans are wrong, but nonetheless useful to someone.

    Algorithms are very efficient for masquerading objectivity and removing the humans who designed and use them from the direct line of accountability for the outcomes.

    It’s harder to claim a computer algorithm used for hiring is racist than to claim a person is, which is a big plus for those doing hiring.


  2. Guest2
    December 2, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    If anyone can, please visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Wash DC near the Washington Monument for reference to the slave trade and slavery as a social institution.

    Eric Williams is online and free, but I’m not sure why his scholarship is paired with Milton Friedman’s book since they bear no relation other than the word “capitalism” in their titles. Capitalism, as anyone trying to define it will quickly find, has as many definitions as those that have an opinion one way or another on the matter.
    See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

    The various chapters in Richard Williams’ “Hierarchical Structures and Social Value: The Creation of Black and Irish Identities in the United States” (1990, SUNY) can guide the uninitiated through the historical and cultural labyrinth that produced slaves, indentured servants, apprentices, etc., in response to the need for labor. The book goes beyond Eric Williams, historically, to the “degradation of work” in the 1800s. At this point, I would be remiss if I were to neglect David Montgomery’s unsurpassed, “The Fall of the House of Labor” (1987) which deals more explicitly with unionization and the Industrial Age.

    That said, it makes more sense to pair something like “Does Capitalism Have a Future?” (2013) with Friedman’s book. There must be a better book out there that presents capitalism, not Friedman’s single-register approach to policy. Suggestions?

    Good luck with the book club!


  3. Desirae
    December 19, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Any forum available for a virtual bookclub? Thanks!


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