Facebook and the Algorithmic Curation of Content

Facebook has recently got into trouble over an accusation that they are suppressing conservative news stories in the trending news categories. Facebook have an algorithmic system that promotes trending topics to a human curation team, who make the final decision about what gets promoted. Obviously human beings have bias. One of the interesting things that has happened in finance is that banks are using algos more and more to ensure that humans aren’t involved in situations where there can be a conflict of interest. One example is the 4pm FX fix which are now required to be handled algorithmically. There’s a trend here – algorithms are being used to ensure fairness. Will media companies be forced to have algorithmic editors to remove bias from reporting?

Prediction and Change

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the mistakes I make in predicting things. Often I will just observe a trend, and then extrapolate that trend into the future. This will be my prediction. The world doesn’t work like that though. Trends will last for a while, but then something changes, and before you know it the world has changed direction.

I want to think more about how and why a current trend could change direction. For example – what would it take for the trend of rising property prices in London to change direction?
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The Technological Arms Race and the Middle Class

Over the last few days there’s been some rumblings in the blogosphere about whether technology will or won’t destroy the middle class.

There was this piece in the Washington Post by James Bessen arguing that although there might be short-term disruption, there will be plenty of work in the future for the middle class.

This was countered by Kevin Drum in Mother Jones who argues that you can hardly compare the technological changes that have happened in the past, with what is currently happening with regards to computing.
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Using my phone as desktop

I am experimenting at the moment with using my phone as my primary computing device. I think that this is the future. There are phones coming out (hello iPhone 5s) with remarkably powerful processors. We can connect our phones to a bluetooth keyboard at the moment. The next step is to be able to send the display through to a nearby screen.

The good news is that there should be an exponential increase in the need for iOS and Android programmers.

Surviving Post-Scarcity

I’ve been reading the “Beyond Scarcity” series on FTAlphaville recently, and it’s made some very interesting points. The posts argue that the current economic environment is deflationary with regard to goods. I think that is true, and one of the reasons is because of technology. Firstly technology is constantly making everything more efficient and because of global competition this is both reducing the production costs and making goods cheaper. Secondly technology is causing structural unemployment, which means less people have money to spend and there is less money flowing around the economy. Other factors causing deflation are the tight monetary conditions, the aging population, and potentially the effects of quantitative easing.

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Developers as Capital

I’ve just been reading this Forbes article called “The Rise of Developeronomics”. The author argues that because increasingly software is the core value proposition that differentiates companies from each other, that software developers are more and more becoming the wealth creators in society. The author recommends investing in software developers as a way of leveraging your own capital. This article builds on an earlier article by David Kirpatick called “Now Every Company is a Software Company”.

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Race Against The Machine

I just finished reading the Kindle book Race Against The Machine, a book I thoroughly recommend. This was the driver of the NPR article I blogged about recently.
The book is mostly oriented towards the US, although the issues they discuss seem to be prevalent across all major economies. The authors make the case that technological improvements are severely impacting every job market except those for highly-skilled individuals.

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