domingo, 18 de noviembre de 2018

Is getting rid of rules and leaders making any movement more open and fair? (by @wired)

excerpts from A 1970s Essay Predicted Silicon Valley's High-Minded Tyranny | WIRED

while this rhetoric of personal empowerment has been great for Silicon Valley, for the rest of the world it has produced a deeply painful reality: greater disparity in wealth and power, fewer tools for reversing these conditions, and a false sense that we are personally to blame for our own difficult circumstances.

The women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s was rebuilding the world in a consciously different way: no designated leaders and no rules on what you could say and when you could say it. Yet Freeman wondered if getting rid of rules and leaders was actually making feminism more open and fair.

After a hard think, she concluded that, if anything, the lack of structure made the situation worse: Elite women who went to the right schools and knew the right people held power and outsiders had no viable way of challenging them. She decided to write an essay summing up her thoughts. “As long as the structure of the group is informal, the rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness of power is limited to those who know the rules,” she wrote in the piece, published in Ms. magazine in 1973. “Those who do not know the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion, or suffer from paranoid delusions that something is happening of which they are not quite aware.”

More than 40 years later, Freeman’s essay, “The Tyranny of Structurelessness,” continues to reverberate, especially in Silicon Valley, where it is deployed by a wide range of critics to disprove widely held beliefs about the internet as a force of personal empowerment, whether in work, leisure, or politics

The reality, of course, is a bit different. Bitcoin is dominated by a small cadre of investors, and “mining” new coins is so expensive and electricity-draining that only large institutions can participate; Facebook’s advertising system is exploited by foreign governments and other malevolent political actors who have had free rein to spread disinformation and discord; and Google’s informal structure allows leaders to believe they can act in secret to dispense with credible accusations of harassment.

In Freeman’s unstinting language, this rhetoric of openness “becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others.”

Because “Tyranny” explains how things work, as opposed to how people say things work, it has become a touchstone for social critics of all stripes. During the Occupy movement, Freeman’s essay was on the organizers’ minds when they sought to eliminate hierarchy without introducing a hidden hierarchy. … digital culture is where Freeman’s work has the most currency these days.

Benjamin Mako Hill, a fellow at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, where he is studying how free software projects operate, said Freeman’s essay was “really an inspirational thing.” In many of the communities he researches, Hill said (refering to Jo Freeman's essay), participants reject any hint of formal structures or authority only to discover that “10 years later, there really are a lot of leaders and structures.” Because the leaders and structures arrived informally, he said, they are much harder to uproot.

“Tyranny” was a healthy reminder that Silicon Valley’s rhetoric of openness and meritocracy doesn’t match the reality. “I’ve felt that paranoid delusion myself,” Taylor wrote in her book about the internet, The People’s Platform
“How do you explain inequalities in a system where explicit discrimination doesn’t exist? 
How do you make sense of homogeneity when there’s no sign on the door excluding different types of people?”

Freeman takes the long view about her argument, seeing it as part of a permanent push-pull between structure and structurelessness. There may be particular reasons why Silicon Valley leaders have an aversion to outside authority and rules, but mainly she thinks they embody the excessive enthusiasm of any group who gains a foothold in a new field—whether in oil exploration or railroads or the internet—and decides they are uniquely fit to hold that powerful position. In the early days of the internet, she says, “it was highly inventive, it was highly spontaneous, but we’re past that. As long as you reject the idea that any organization is bad you are never going to have the discussion about the best organization for whatever it is you are trying to do.”

And while this rhetoric of personal empowerment has been great for Silicon Valley, for the rest of the world it has produced a deeply painful reality: greater disparity in wealth and power, fewer tools for reversing these conditions, and a false sense that we are personally to blame for our own difficult circumstances.

Excerpts from The Tyranny of Structurelessness by Jo Freeman

Formal and informal structures

Contrary to what we would like to believe, there is no such thing as a structureless group. Any group of people of whatever nature that comes together for any length of time for any purpose will inevitably structure itself in some fashion. The structure may be flexible; it may vary over time; it may evenly or unevenly distribute tasks, power and resources over the members of the group. But it will be formed regardless of the abilities, personalities, or intentions of the people involved. The very fact that we are individuals, with different talents, predispositions, and backgrounds makes this inevitable. Only if we refused to relate or interact on any basis whatsoever could we approximate structurelessness -- and that is not the nature of a human group.

The nature of elitism

"Elitist" is probably the most abused word in the women's liberation movement. It is used as frequently, and for the same reasons, as "pinko" was used in the fifties. It is rarely used correctly. Within the movement it commonly refers to individuals, though the personal characteristics and activities of those to whom it is directed may differ widely: An individual, as an individual can never be an elitist, because the only proper application of the term "elite" is to groups. Any individual, regardless of how well-known that person may be, can never be an elite.

Political impotence

Unstructured groups may be very effective in getting women to talk about their lives; they aren't very good for getting things done. It is when people get tired of "just talking" and want to do something more that the groups flounder, unless they change the nature of their operation. Occasionally, the developed informal structure of the group coincides with an available need that the group can fill in such a way as to give the appearance that an Unstructured group "works." That is, the group has fortuitously developed precisely the kind of structure best suited for engaging in a particular project.

There are almost inevitably four conditions found in such a group;
1) It is task oriented. Its function is very narrow and very specific, like putting on a conference or putting out a newspaper.
2) It is relatively small and homogeneous. Homogeneity is necessary to insure that participants have a "common language" for interaction.
3) There is a high degree of communication. Information must be passed on to everyone, opinions checked, work divided up, and participation assured in the relevant decisions. This is only possible if the group is small and people practically live together for the most crucial phases of the task.
4) There is a low degree of skill specialization. Not everyone has to be able to do everything, but everything must be able to be done by more than one person. Thus no one is indispensable.

Principles of democratic structuring

1) Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures.
2) Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them.
3) Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible.
4) Rotation of tasks among individuals.
5) Allocation of tasks along rational criteria.
6) Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible. Information is power. Access to information enhances one's power.
7) Equal access to resources needed by the group. A member who maintains a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press owned by a husband, or a darkroom) can unduly influence the use of that resource. Skills and information are also resources.

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2018

19 Strategies To Drive Innovation in your Corporation (@CBInsights)

A Guide To Corporate Innovation - CB Insights Research

Here they are, 19 strategies to make your corporation look more innovative:
1. Do the Silicon Valley petting zoo thing 
2. Launch an accelerator 
3. Have a brainstorming meeting that uses lots of Post-It Notes 
4. Take someone who has plateaued in their career and give them “innovation” 
5. Start a corporate VC 
6. Talk about bringing learnings from the outside in 
7. Don’t give metrics to innovation / growth-focused teams 
8. Have multiple groups with similar but different enough mandates 
9. Invest in VCs as an LP to “access innovation” 
10. Expect returns within 12 months
11. Invent new senior titles 
12. Move to an open floor plan 
13. Start talking like how you think startups talk 
14. Hire a huge management consulting firm 
15. Hire some Xooglers 
16. Have rooms that are painted with whiteboard paint 
17. Hire a chef and offer free meals 
18. Spend lots of time defining your stage-gate process
19. Adopt a casual dress code

martes, 13 de noviembre de 2018

jueves, 8 de noviembre de 2018

3 artículos de Harari que me interesaron

2018, October

2018, August

2017, May

lunes, 5 de noviembre de 2018

Romer y el crecimiento endógeno (@Sintetia)

 Paul Romer y William Nordhaus, premios Nobel de Economía 2018 (Cándido Pañeda, Catedrátioco de Economía Aplicada)
El Premio Nobel de Economía del 2018 ha sido concedido a dos economistas que, siendo muy distintos en muchos otros aspectos, tienen algo en común, ambos se enfrentan al tema del crecimiento económico, aunque lo hagan desde dos perspectivas diferentes: por una parte, a Paul M. Romer, quien convierte en traslúcida la caja negra de la tecnología y, por otra, a William D. Nordhaus, quien, partiendo del hilo de las restricciones que la escasez de recursos naturales puede plantear al crecimiento, llega al ovillo del cambio climático. A continuación, se resumen ambas aportaciones.

Paul Romer
Un bien es “rival” cuando, por decirlo de algún modo, no podemos usarlo dos personas al mismo tiempo. Por ejemplo, una camisa es un bien rival porque una persona no puede llevar la camisa que utiliza en ese momento otra persona. 
La “exclusión” se refiere, como la palabra indica, a si hay algún sistema que permita excluir a los potenciales usuarios. En las camisas hay exclusión, ya que en las tiendas no se las facilitan a quienes no las pagan. Pues bien, resulta que la tecnología es un bien no rival en el que hay exclusión, aunque sólo sea parcial o temporal. Así, el programa con el que se escriben estas líneas es un bien no rival porque pueden estar utilizándolo muchos otros usuarios en paralelo, sin que pase nada y, además, es un bien en el que hay exclusión, pues se usa previo pago del mismo. 
Vinculada con la no rivalidad, la tecnología tiene otra característica fundamental: el coste de producirla es elevado y el coste de, por así decirlo, “reproducirla” es bajo. 
Crear el programa con el que se escriben estas líneas costó mucho dinero, pero, una vez que se creó, realizar copias del mismo cuesta muy poco. Esto nos lleva al mundo de los rendimientos crecientes y los costes decrecientes (si el coste de crear el programa es 1.000 y el de la copia es 2, el coste medio de la primera copia es 1002. Si realizamos dos copias y hacemos de nuevo la cuenta desde cero, el coste medio baja a 502) y, al final, a la competencia imperfecta.

domingo, 4 de noviembre de 2018

Do we know why customers would want us to transform? (by @TrendWatching)

 Digital Transformation & Consumer Trends report:
Before you embark on an expensive and ambitious digital transformation project, don’t just ask, ‘do we know why we’re transforming?’
Instead ask the more important question, ‘do we know why customers would want us to transform?’ 
…we’d like to offer four reasons why too often the focus on ‘digital transformation’ misses the point, and show how injecting a consumer trend perspective can help increase your chances of success above that 50% mentioned above.
1. Focus on outcomes, not tools and technologies
     Why do your customers care that you even exist?
2. Embrace the journey, rather than a destination
     Every organization will need to be in a state of constant digital transformation.
3. Escape legacy thinking
     Why protect legacy ‘assets’ that have become liabilities?
4. Pursue opportunity, rather than fear
     You can never overshoot on customer experience

domingo, 28 de octubre de 2018

The Rodney Brooks (@rodneyabrooks) Rules for Predicting a Technology’s Commercial Success (via @exponentialview by @azeem)

Building electric cars and reusable rockets is fairly easy. Building a nuclear fusion reactor, flying cars, self-driving cars, or a Hyperloop system is very hard. What makes the difference? 
The answer, in a word, is experience. The difference between the possible and the practical can only be discovered by trying things out. Therefore, even though the physics suggests that a thing will work, if it has not even been demonstrated in the lab you can consider that thing to be a long way off. If it has been demonstrated in prototypes only, then it is still distant. If versions have been deployed at scale, and most of the necessary refinements are of an evolutionary character, then perhaps it may become available fairly soon. Even then, if no one wants to use the thing, it will languish in the warehouse, no matter how much enthusiasm there is among the technologists who developed it. 
Here I present a short list of technology projects that are now under way or at least under serious discussion. In each case I’ll point out features that tend to make a technology easy or hard to bring to market.
  • Not Much Needs to Change
  • Haven’t Been There, Haven’t Done That
  • Obstacles are closer than they appear
  • No Component Is Too Hard, but All Together They’re a Bear
  • Sometimes, the Possible Just Takes a Little Longer 
In pointing out the differences that make one technology harder than another, I am not preaching technological defeatism. I’m only suggesting that we properly gauge the difficulty of whatever we are told could be the next big thing. If the idea builds on practical experience, then guarded optimism is in order. If not, then not. Hope is a scarce thing; we shouldn’t squander it.

lunes, 1 de octubre de 2018

Resumen–comentario de "Tecnología vs Humanidad" (por @respla para @sintetia)

UPDATED: Nuevos comentarios de @respla ( ) autor de la entrada que resumo a cotinuación.

2ª y última actualización para aportar el cierre de las consideraciones de @respla sobre el libro "Tecnología vs Humanidad" de Gerd Leonhard.

Así queda la reseña del libro en las ideas generales –abreviadas en esta entrada–, y enlaces a la segunda y  tercera parte, destinadas a comentar los aspectos más debatibles la 2ª mientras que la 3ª revisa alguna de las ideas propuestas para "minimizar los riesgos del momento de explosión tecnológica en el que vivimos."

Tecnología vs Humanidad de Gerd Leonhard: ¿con o contra? – @Sintetia otra interesante entrada que no os debéis perder en su totalidad…

Extractos a continuación (con énfasis míos):
…nos encontramos en un punto de inflexión para la humanidad. Un momento crítico creado por los cambios tecnológicos acelerados que vivimos, y sobre todo en lo relativo a lo digital.

…define tres características comunes que tienen este tipo de tecnologías transformadoras:
1.- Exponencial: Los avances tecnológicos siguen curvas parecidas a las de la Ley de Moore. Esto genera un reto cognitivo enorme a los seres humanos ya que nosotros seguimos formas lineales de aprendizaje.
2.- Combinatorio: Las tecnologías se están combinando y convergiendo entre sí para conseguir avances aún más rápidos.
3.- Recurrente: Hay tecnologías que aprenden por sí mismas y que cada vez necesitan menos de humanos para su mejora. 
A su vez, Leonhard describe los 10 megacambios tecnológicos que estamos viviendo en la actualidad, cambios fruto de la convergencia entre tecnologías exponenciales que se están desarrollando simultáneamente: 
  1. Digitalización: Todo lo que pueda ser digitalizado, será digitalizado  
  2. Movilización: Sin cables, móvil y siempre conectado. Esto nos lleva también a que todo se graba.
  3. Pantallización: Revolución de los interfaces.
  4. Desintermediación: Capitalismo de plataformas.
  5. Transformación: La verdad detrás del término ya vacuo de “transformación digital”.
  6. Inteligización: Las cosas se están volviendo inteligentes.
  7. Automatización: Cuando las cosas son inteligentes, luego se automatiza.
  8. Virtualización: Crear una versión digital de todas las cosas.
  9. Anticipación: Las máquinas nos ayudarán a predecir como nunca antes
  10. Robotización: La materialización de todo esto

Leonhard considera que hay cinco etapas en el proceso por el cual vamos cediendo protagonismo a las máquinas, primero en las acciones y luego en las decisiones. Estas cinco etapas son: 

  1. Automatización: Exponencial e inevitable. Pero, ¿debería esta eficiencia realmente prevalecer sobre la humanidad? ¿Deberíamos automatizar las cosas por el simple hecho de que podamos hacerlo?   
  2. Asentimiento: La aceptación de sistemas que nos sustituyen en determinadas acciones porque nos lo hacen fácil y cómodo. Por ejemplo, utilizar sistemas que escriben mensajes por nosotros. 
  3. Abdicación: Renunciamos a hacer cosas que eran de nuestra responsabilidad y las delegamos en máquinas. Confiamos ciegamente en las recomendaciones de las máquinas. 
  4. Agravio: Discriminamos a los seres humanos frente a las máquinas o frente a seres humanos “aumentados”. 
  5. Abominación: El momento de la despersonalización total en el que ya no vemos otras personas sino que vemos números, recomendaciones y evaluaciones dadas por máquinas. 

Por supuesto que el autor se sitúa en el campo humanista y sus propuestas en este ámbito son la parte central del libro. De esta manera, Leonhard advierte de sustituir lo que nos hace humanos, los “androritmos”, por algoritmos lo cual pone en peligro nuestra humanidad. 
En esta línea sugiere reforzar el CORE (creatividad/compasión, originalidad, reciprocidad/responsabilidad y empatía) frente al empuje de las STEM (ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas). Estos androritmos entroncan también con la ética, algo que en principio no sabemos si las máquinas podrán desarrollar algún día. 

Creo que la reflexión más importante del libro se sitúa alrededor de la felicidad. Aporta una afirmación muy interesante: el objetivo principal del progreso tecnológico debería ser la búsqueda de la máxima felicidad humana. Este gran objetivo trae consigo la gran pregunta: qué es la felicidad. 
Se suele hablar de dos tipos de felicidad, la hedonista y la eu̯dai̯monía. La primera es la del ahora y la de los placeres. La segunda tiene más que ver con la prosperidad. 

El psicólogo Martin Seligman utiliza el modelo PERMA para hablar de la verdadera felicidad que no viene sólo de placeres externos y momentáneos: 

  • Pleasure (placer): comida sabrosa, baños calientes. 
  • Engagement (compromiso): Participar en actividades desafiantes. 
  • Relationships (relaciones): los vínculos sociales han mostrado ser un indicador extremadamente confiable de la felicidad. 
  • Meaning (sentido): una búsqueda percibida de pertenencia a algo más grande que nosotros mismos. 
  • Accomplishments (logros): haber alcanzado metas tangibles.
Corremos un riesgo importante de que la tecnología evolucione tanto como para simular toda estas fuentes de felicidad hasta tal punto que no podamos distinguirlas de la realidad.  

El autor acaba el libro con algunas predicciones que dibujan un mundo distópico y que parecen realizables viendo el estado actual de la tecnología y su posible evolución, así como con la recomendación de la formación de un Consejo Global para la Ética Digital (CGED) con la tarea de definir cuáles serían las reglas base y los valores más primordiales y universales que una sociedad tan radicalmente diferente y digitalizada debería tener. 

Para apoyar este CGED y comenzar un debate sobre el tema de la ética digital, el autor habla de un futuro manifiesto que impulsara su creación, para el que propone cinco derechos fundamentales: 

  1. El derecho a seguir siendo naturales, esto es, biológicos.
  2. El derecho a ser ineficientes si esto define, o cuando defina, nuestra humanidad básica. 
  3. El derecho a desconectarnos. 
  4. El derecho a ser anónimos. 
  5. El derecho a emplear o involucrar a personas en lugar de máquinas.

sábado, 29 de septiembre de 2018

Compassion & Technology and the Life of the Buddha (from @singularityunl)

“Our earth will eventually disappear, our sun will disappear, even our galaxy will ultimately disappear, so it’s unrealistic to think we will avoid death.”

asked about how technology and compassion could be of help to other people around the world, he answered: 
“Machines are very important, but they are controlled by human beings. We human beings are not only physical entities, we also have minds. When we are motivated by positive emotions our physical actions will be constructive. Modern psychology knows about sensory consciousnesses, but doesn’t distinguish them clearly from mental consciousness, which involves emotions like anger. I’m very appreciative of the comfort and relief that technology can provide, but I’d like to see its effects implemented in less developed countries where there is still great suffering.” 
“These machines are material devices,” His Holiness observed, “but we also have to think about consciousness. Our waking consciousness depends on our brain and sensory organs and is relatively coarse. When we dream the senses are at rest. In deep sleep, consciousness is subtler, as it is when we faint and so forth, but the subtlest, deepest consciousness manifests at the time of death.

His Holiness explained that psychologist Richie Davidson of University of Wisconsin–Madison has undertaken a project to investigate what is going on. He pointed out that while technology can improve eye and ear consciousness, it has little effect on the subtler level of mental consciousness that nevertheless can be extended infinitely. Inner values involve the mind and ancient India was rich in understanding the mind’s workings as a result of the practices for cultivating a calmly abiding mind (shamatha) and analytical insight (vipashyana). The Buddha’s attainment was a product of such practices. 
The challenging question raised was, “Would you like to live to be 1000 years old?” 
His Holiness retorted that it’s necessary to be realistic and the question represented unrealistic thinking. He observed that Indian Sadhus and others have tried to achieve such a goal through yoga and breath control, but none have lived more than 200 years. 
Selma Boulmalf asked His Holiness if sickness had any meaningful role in life
He told her he thought that facing pain and difficulty reminds believers of God and their religious path. 
…He explained three levels of knowledge: basic understanding gained by hearing or reading, conviction that derives from critical thinking and experience arising from deeper acquaintance in meditation. 
His Holiness told her that even animals love life and move to defend it. “We all naturally love life and death brings an end to it. We tend to fear death because it is a mystery, but through training we can develop confidence in the next life.”   
We need to focus on a sense of the oneness of humanity and maintaining religious harmony, which India vividly exemplifies. If religious harmony can flourish there, why not elsewhere?”
Question to His Holiness was about whether there has been a female Dalai Lama and if not, could there be one in the future? 
His Holiness replied that he had been asked this repeatedly over the years and has answered that if a female body would be more useful, why not? He qualified this by adding that whether or not there will continue to be a Dalai Lama in the future is something Tibetans, Mongolians and people of the Himalayan Region will decide.

During a meeting with members of the media immediately afterwards His Holiness remarked that technology can clearly play a significant role in alleviating physical distress, but that peace of mind and the role of moral principles cannot be overlooked. He commented that existing education sets material goals, resulting in aspirations for a more materialistic way of life with little attention to inner values.
He expressed disapproval of the use of technology for oppressive surveillance, but noted that the problem lies with the motivation of perpetrators and the way it is used rather than the technology by itself. He repeated that moral principles lay the basis for individuals, families and communities to live a happy life.