Best of the Moment
Richard Evans | Guardian | 27th September 2013
Review of Richard Overy's The Bombing War. For all the death and destruction, the economic and strategic impact of bombing in World War II was greatly overestimated. "Overy's magnificent survey is probably the most important book published on the history of the second world war this century, and historians will have to revise many of their long-accepted facts and figures in taking account of it"
Tom Slee | Whimsley | 29th September 2013
Internet reputation systems let individuals rate counterparties, and generate recommendations based on those ratings. The aim is to create the bonds of trust needed to underpin remote transactions. Does it work? Not very well. Communities encourage collusion; the systems are too easily gamed. As online reputation becomes more valuable, so intermediaries proliferate to provide reputation as a paid service
Ken Auletta | New Yorker | 30th September 2013
Profile of Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor thrust into global spotlight as publisher of Edward Snowden's NSA leaks, and, before that, the Wikileaks Cablegate dump. His internet-first editorial model to maximise readership has triumphed: online traffic has tripled since 2009. The business model is more problematic. The paper loses money, relies on a trust fund to keep going. “The aim is to have sustainable losses.”
Stuart Armstrong | Aeon | 30th September 2013
The rise of universal surveillance frightens and angers libertarians. But what about the benefits? The more complete the surveillance, the greater the reduction in crime and terrorism. Society would need fewer police, because there would be much less to investigate; the evidence would all be there on camera. Corruption would be harder. Arms control would be easier. Pandemics would be detected sooner
Eric Barker | Barking Up The Wrong Tree | 27th September 2013
Interview with Tyler Cowen, discussing aspects of Cowen's new book Average Is Over, on how the rise of intelligent machines will reshape society and, in particular, employment. "The scarce skills for the future are all about psychology because computers right now still don’t do that very well. The good jobs will be about branding. They’re all about figuring out how to get other people’s attention"
Thought for the day:
"Immortality can always be assured by adequate error" — J.K. Galbraith