More Human Than Human

Welcome to Digitally Literate, issue #372.

I worked on the following this week:

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How Debate Got Stupid

Debate is the oil, coal, and gas of the internet; it ferments amongst the masses in Twitter (X) threads and subreddits.

The rise of social media and the desire for clout has led to a culture of debate bros who prioritize performance over substance.

“Little tech” is driving workplace surveillance

Workplace surveillance has become widespread and goes beyond security cameras

The rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in invasive surveillance technologies, such as requiring workers to install monitoring software on their home computers. Wilneida Negrón & Aiha Nguyen indicate that workplace surveillance poses risks to workers’ privacy, and collective organizing rights, and can perpetuate discrimination.

Read more about little tech and workforce surveillance here.

Why this matters. Although improvements like these are frequently presented as a way to create a better, more effective workplace, the level of technological creep that is occurring now poses a threat to transforming workplace management into employee servitude.

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

Judy Estrin

Why this matters. This conflict goes beyond a struggle for market dominance. Our collective future is being designed by a select group of tech titans, who are promoting their particular social vision and humanism beliefs as the only viable course.

More Human Than Human

Joe Zadeh explores the history and nature of charisma, examining the way in which it has traditionally been defined and giving examples of charismatic personalities throughout history.

Despite this complexity, recent research has attempted to break charisma down into measurable components in order to better understand and teach it. Ultimately, Zadeh argues that charisma is about values, symbolism, and emotion and that it can have both positive and negative effects on individuals and society.

Why this matters. What happens if charisma can be broken down into its constituent parts and an AI model is able to examine, improve, and replicate these parts?

Focus on impacts, not technical details

Approaches to Regulating Artificial Intelligence: A Primer is a great resource if you’re looking for an easy-to-review, share, and remix resource for all things AI. The focus near the end is on regulation, so it gets very deep but is very helpful.

Why this matters. The lack of an overarching definition and a collective understanding of technology is hampering our ability to adjust and prepare for new and novel futures.

Organizing Generalizations

A new theory backed by experiments using artificial neural networks proposes that the brain may be sorting memories by evaluating how likely they are to be useful as guides in the future.

In a recent paper published in Nature Neuroscience, a group of neuroscientists including Weinan Sun and James Fitzgerald from the Janelia Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, as well as Andrew Saxe from University College London, proposed a new theory. It updates and expands on the well-established idea that the brain has two linked, complementary learning systems: the hippocampus, which rapidly encodes new information, and the neocortex, which gradually integrates it for long-term storage.

Why this matters. This segregation of memories may optimize the reliability of memories for helping us navigate novel situations.

Tap into your visualization and ideation

I’m a longtime Canva user. I use it weekly for this newsletter as well as materials for my classes and work. The AI functionality that they’ve been building into the tool has been somewhat underwhelming up to this point. As I work with image generation tools, one of the biggest challenges is text that is added to images. It’s usually gibberish.

I’ve been enjoying Ideogram as an AI tool to create images and visualizations. It’s still a work in progress, but getting better.

No problem stays solved in a dynamic environment.

Russell Ackoff

Cover Photo CC BY using Playground AI

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