Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world.
"Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us."
"For three decades they had us convinced that the success of the financial sector should be measured not by how well it provides financial services to actual consumers and corporations, but by how effectively financial firms make money for themselves." I'm not sure whether there is any evidence that should be in the past tense.
It's not the failure that worries me so much as the success; optimizing toward some heuristic measure that bears only vague relation to doing anything useful for anyone. It's a point I'm surprised he didn't make explicit, especially when the issue of culture came up—the self-titled "AAA" end of the games industry comes to mind as something that's largely vanished up its own (very profitable for now) backside optimizing around a local maxima of Call of Duty clones. That's a far more miserable proposition than a random glitch one day deciding that it's absolutely essential to throw several billion behind a interactive fiction game about smuggling ducks across mainland Europe, which bombs and takes EA with it. Hec, Metacritic already takes up a role as an "objective" measure of game developer performance.
I'm sure that nothing can go wrong with plans to fire ministers that do not output enough
lines of codeobjective value per day, though.