Category Archives: Week-end

How to Be Civil in an Uncivil World

Americans seem to be forever undergoing a “crisis” of civility. Year after year, we’re told that the norms dictating decent behavior are eroding; that we’ve lost sight of the basic regard we owe our fellow participants in public life; that the contentiousness of our culture threatens to undermine our democracy. Worrisome stuff, of course — but a little vague. If, as any historian will tell you, people in all times and places have been alarmed by this development (the ancient Romans called it pugna verborum, or “the battle of words”), you might wonder how urgent, or even actual, the trouble really is. Then there’s the problem of definition. One man’s civility is another man’s repression. Were the Act Up protesters in the 1980s so indecorous as to disqualify themselves from political conversation, as their critics charged? Or were they the ones demanding civility, in the form of simple recognition of the lives of people with AIDS? Is Donald Trump dangerously boorish? Or is he, too, resisting an ersatz decorum, one he and his supporters call “political correctness,” which they claim honors the feelings of everyone but the beleaguered white working-class male?

One response to these complexities is to abandon the quest for civility, deeming it a historically fanciful, hopelessly imprecise ideal. Another response, exemplified by the political scientist Keith J. Bybee’s slim and artful treatise HOW CIVILITY WORKS (Stanford Briefs/Stanford University, paper, $12.99), is to suggest we continue to fight for civility but learn to think of it less romantically. Given how nasty and intractable the conflicts in our society can be, Bybee argues, it is naïve to imagine we can somehow transcend our clashing sets of values and miraculously agree on what counts as acceptable behavior and tolerable opinion. After all, if we could find common ground on something as fundamental as that, we wouldn’t have the sort of nasty and intractable conflicts we call on civility to manage in the first place. For better or worse, we must accept that civility “does not exist outside of politics as an independent force,” Bybee writes, but rather is just as much the “subject of political struggle” as everything else.

Read on

Leave a comment

Filed under Week-end

Forget A.I. ‘Remote Intelligence’ Will Be Much More Disruptive

 

Getty Images, A remote surgeon on an InTouch robot at the European Institute of TeleSurgery. Strasbourg, France. Jan. 12, 2009.

Globalization can usefully be thought of as a form of arbitrage driven by the simple fact that some things are cheaper in one country than another. In today’s world, we have large international differences in wages and salaries. So far, it is quite difficult to arbitrage wage differences.

And widespread political resistance to mass migration means that low-wage workers are mostly stuck at home. But what if workers in poor nations could sell their labor in rich nations without leaving home? What if the services provided by labor could cross borders without the laborers?

Telerobotics is the technology that overcomes the current need for physical presence in many jobs. These are robots that are controlled not by artificial intelligence but by remote intelligence ― a faraway human operating the robot.

Leave a comment

Filed under Week-end

3 Ways Data Dashboards Can Mislead You

Executives love dashboards, and why wouldn’t they? Single-screen “snapshots” of operational processes, marketing metrics, and key performance indicators (KPIs) can be visually elegant and intuitive. They show just-in-time views of what’s working and what isn’t — no need to wait for weekly or monthly reports from a centralized data center. A quick scan of a dashboard gives frontline managers transparency and, ideally, the opportunity to make rapid adjustments.

But dashboards aren’t the magic view some managers treat them as. Although they can convey snapshots of important measures, dashboards are poor at providing the nuance and context that effective data-driven decision making demands.

Data analytics typically does a few things:

  • describes existing or past phenomena
  • predicts future events based on past data
  • prescribes a course of action

Most dashboards, though, only cover the first — describing what has happened. Moving from description to prediction to action requires knowledge of how the underlying data was generated, a deep understanding of the business context, and exceptional critical thinking skills on the part of the user to understand what the data does (and doesn’t) mean. Dashboards don’t provide any of this. Worse, the allure of the dashboard, that feeling that all the answers are there in real time, can be harmful. The simplicity and elegance can tempt managers to forget about the all-important nuances of data-driven decision making.

w170109_shapiro_accidentrate2-700x512

More here

Leave a comment

Filed under Week-end