18 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2021
    1. It is only through broad public conversations and beginning to see the consequences of some of the approaches I was taking that I have come to fully appreciate the severe limits of technocracy. In that case, as in all those above, there is a severe danger of great technical minds being wasted on an arrogant pursuit of remaking the world in their image, rather than contributing to a broader conversation.

      Laudable transparent self-reflection from the author. Would that more were so willing to change, and be public about their changing!

    2. those who don’t usually end up in jail

      This made me pause, given how many people end up in jail not because they haven't made themselves legible, but because they aren't seen as legible by the (technocratic) systems that jail people. I'd make this point differently...

    3. A primary goal of AI design should be not just alignment, but legibility, to ensure that the humans interacting with the AI know its goals and failure modes, allowing critique, reuse, constraint etc.

      Applying the thinking here to artificial intelligence...

    4. Yet the lack of technical formalizability does not imply there is nothing systematic about achieving legibility.

      On achieving legibility systematically.

    5. Designers must explicitly recognize and design for the fact that there is critical information necessary to make their designs succeed that a) lies in the minds of citizens outside the technocratic/designer class, b) will not be translated into the language of this class soon enough to avoid disastrous outcomes and c) does not fit into the thin formalism that designers allow for societal input.

      Explicit recipe to avoid dangers of technocracy.

    6. Keynesian planning and neoliberal privatization drives are superficially quite opposite tendencies. Yet deeper down they share the view that a thin formalism, based on aggregate statistics like inflation, GDP growth, output, interest rates, etc. as defined in the theory, are enough to process the wide range of social feedback necessary for sensible political and economic decision-making.

      Great example how seemingly opposed frameworks nevertheless participate in the same "technocratic" discursive formation.

    7. Brasilia stands as a monument in glass, steel and stone to the arrogance of technocracy

      Maybe for a film example, see Jacques Tati's Playtime.

    8. supported by a community of scientists and engineers that police the boundaries of what is considered valid and valued work within such a knowledge system

      Thinking here not just of active human boundary policing, but also boundaries enforced by discursive formations as Foucault might describe them, which seem well aligned with this analysis.

    9. Let us call this goal “fidelity”, as it tries to make the formal system as true to the world as possible and contrasts with “optimality”. Yet, as the same time, they must recognize that whatever they design, it will fail to capture critical elements of the world. In order to allow these failures to be corrected, it will be necessary for the designed system to be comprehensible by those outside the formal community, so they can incorporate the unformalized information through critique, reuse, recombination and broader conversation in informal language. Let us call this goal “legibility”.

      Where the author defines very useful terms of "fidelity" and "legibility".

    10. Constraints on this process based on democratic legitimacy or explicability, “common sense” restrictions on what should or shouldn’t be optimized, unstructured or verbal input into the process by those lacking formal training, etc. are all viewed as harmful noise at best and as destructive meddling by ill-informed politics at worst.

      Common issues with technocracy.

  2. Jul 2020
  3. Jan 2016
    1. “teaching engineer”

      The fucking hubris of this is worthy of the profanity. This is classic Taylorism and worse because engineering/managing complexity is impossible unless you force everything into a 'legible' state, a reduced state.

    2. Despite all the talk about “leveling the playing field” and disrupting old, powerful institutions, the Web replicates many pre-existing inequalities; it exacerbates others; it creates new ones. I think we have to work much harder to make the Web live up to the rhetoric of freedom and equality. That’s a political effort, not simply a technological one.

      Great point and important one, too, as we acknowledge the path is not all rosy and flowing optimism .... we still got work to do ...

    3. But the readable, writable, programmable Web is an important development in education technology. Perhaps one of the most important. As such, we can’t just let that go. We can’t just surrender the Web to the technology industry, just as we shouldn't surrender ed-tech to programmed instruction.

      In a nutshell ... how the forces of change are lining up ... who paves the way forward? the kids or the companies? (The kids, damn it!)

    4. Designing the machine. Designing the material.

      no student in sight?

    5. But my experience with the correspondence course did help me understand, I think for the first time in my life as a student I think, how our models and our theories and our practices in education shape and are shaped by the technologies we use.

      You see this weave through all of her writing (and others, too, including ours) ... where is the agency for the student? In the technology? The device? Or in the discovery? The inquiry? Or it it in the teacher? The lesson plans?

    6. “Wait, what are we doing? Why?”

      The most essential questions we can ask ourselves: Why are we doing this?

    7. Me, I rewound and replayed those statistics videos a lot. It didn’t help.

      Education fails for most of us when it becomes this farming adage: just put the food down where the goats can get to it. If all education is, is this, then almost everybody will be left out. I think that is what technocrats like Khan and Gates want in their most secret hearts even if they would never admit it--rule by the autodidact, rule by those who look just like them.