Don’t ever take anything from Goldman
Michael Lewis | Vanity Fair | 1 August 2013
Sergei Aleynikov was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to eight years in jail for stealing computer code from his former employer, Goldman Sachs. He’d been in charge of maintaining their high-frequency trading platform. He was foolish and naive, but he didn’t deserve jail time, and wouldn’t have got it without Goldman’s over-reaction. First of two parts. (Note also the comments, which call Lewis out on his comp-sci and math.)
Where’s the male Pill?
Jalees Rehman | Aeon | 31 July 2013
Male contraceptive pills and implants have been developed; none has come to market. Why so? Side-effects. Contraceptives for women have side-effects too, but “the risk of contraceptive side effects can be offset by the benefit of avoiding an unintended pregnancy.” Since men don’t get pregnant, there’s not the same risk calculus. “It becomes more difficult, ethically, to justify the side effects of hormonal contraceptives in men.”
WarGames: Google vs. Apple
Farhad Manjoo & Matthew Yglesias | Slate | 29 July 2013
Recommendation goes to the entire series: ten episodes. What would happen if Google and Apple went to war — first commercially, but then for real? Slate at its slightly crazy best. Worthy of an Orson Welles radio broadcast. Jumps the shark in episode seven, when Apple starts issuing iPistols to loyalists queueing outside Apple stores, but comes to a stirring finish.
Confessions of a Google Glass explorer
Gary Shteyngart | New Yorker | 28 July 2013
Around and about New York wearing Google Glass. “Before I leave, Aray and I have a Google hangout. We essentially swap identities. I see what she sees through her Glass, which is me. She sees what I see through my Glass, which is her. We bring our faces closer, as if approaching a mirror, but the feeling is more akin to being trapped in an early Spike Jonze movie or thrust into an unholy Vulcan mind meld.”
NSA: The decision problem
George Dyson | Edge | 27 July 2013
Why police states are necessarily stupid. “It will never be entirely possible to systematically distinguish truly dangerous ideas from good ones that appear suspicious, without trying them out. Any formal system that is granted (or assumes) the absolute power to protect itself against dangerous ideas will also be defensive against original and creative thoughts. For human beings individually and for society, that will be our loss.”
The science of winning at poker
Christopher Chabris | Wall Street Journal | 26 July 2013
The relevant science used to be psychology. Then it was probability. Now it’s game theory. “The right way to analyse a poker decision is to consider your opponent’s range — that is, the full set of different hands that he could plausibly have, given all the actions that he has thus far taken.” Which is too difficult to do while playing a real game; you have to train your instincts using poker apps.
Cyberwar fears pose dangers of unnecessary escalation
Martin C. Libicki | Rand Corporation | 25 July 2013
Very sensible policy note. Cyberwar isn’t real war. Don’t overreact if attacked, and don’t assume you know what’s going on. “The odds that an attack in cyberspace arises from miscalculation, inadvertence, unintended consequences, or rogue actors are nontrivial.” “Even if cyberwar can be used to disrupt life on a mass scale, it cannot be used to occupy another nation’s capital. It cannot force regime change. No one has yet died from it.”