Quote of the Day

“Benedict’s Law of Headlines: If an opinion piece uses ‘Artificial Intelligence’ instead of ‘machine learning’, you know in advance that its arguments will be weak.”

Benedict Evans.

Quote of the Day

“If it’s your algorithm, it’s your responsibility. This is the only way that we can sort of sustain a world where we know who is responsible for what.”

Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commissioner

Quote of the Day

Q: We’re now more than two years out from that experience, and obviously the controversies have not gone away — they’ve actually multiplied. Do you think Zuckerberg and Sandberg have made any progress on the stuff you warned about?

A: I want to avoid absolutes, but I think it’s safe to say that the business model is the source of the problem, and that it’s the same business model as before. And to the extent that they made progress, it’s in going after different moles in the Whack-a-Mole game. From the point of view of the audience, Facebook is as threatening as ever.

From an interview with Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook and apparently a recovering former mentor to Mark Zuckerberg. He’s also the author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

Word-processing vs. writing

While you sit at your computer now, the world seethes behind the letters as they appear on the screen. You can toggle to a football match, a parliamentary debate, a tsunami. A beep tells you that an e-mail has arrived. WhatsApp flashes on the screen. Interruption is constant but also desired. Or at least you’re conflicted about it. You realize that the people reading what you have written will also be interrupted. They are also sitting at screens, with smartphones in their pockets. They won’t be able to deal with long sentences, extended metaphors. They won’t be drawn into the enchantment of the text. So should you change the way you write accordingly? Have you already changed, unwittingly?

Or should you step back? Time to leave your computer and phone in one room, perhaps, and go and work silently on paper in another. To turn off the Wi-Fi for eight hours. Just as you once learned not to drink everything in the hotel minibar, not to eat too much at free buffets, now you have to cut down on communication. You have learned how compulsive you are, how fragile your identity, how important it is to cultivate a little distance. And your only hope is that others have learned the same lesson. Otherwise, your profession, as least as you thought of it, is finished.

Tim Parks

Quote of the Day

“What can convey the veritable brain-washing, the total preoccupation, the drugged and haunted condition which this new poet induced in some of us? We were like new-born goslings forever imprinted with the image of an alien and indifferent foster parent, infatuated with his erudition, his sophistication, yet sapped and ruined by the contagion of his despair.”

Cyril Connolly on the impact of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land on his generation.