In case you hadn’t noticed, Merriam-Webster’s Twitter game is strong—topical, funny, smart, and informative while also being relentlessly irreverent. Not what you’d necessarily expect from the social media account of a dictionary. (This is putting aside the fact that we now generally expect things like dictionaries to have social media accounts, of course.) But if you were ever a nerd who thought of the dictionary as your best friend (just me?)—well, this is sort of like that dictionary has finally come to life and loves you back and also tweets about words all the time. To find out more about this glorious sentient dictionary, I reached out to the folks behind the tweets to ask them about words, social media, and the place of dictionaries in 2016.
So much to be thankful for. Music: Agnes Obel – Fuel to the Fire (Xinobi Rework)
Why are established organizations listing towards reliability and exploitation? Perhaps the clearest explanation came from Nicholas Colin, Associate Professor in business strategy, Université Paris-Dauphine, who pointed to the shifting power relationships between workers, executives, shareholders and customers.
In the 1960s, Colin explained, workers were in a strong position. But in the 1970s, the situation changed. Capital was both more mobile and more concentrated and could now exert pressure on corporations and obtain higher returns over shorter periods.
Today we are seeing similar hype about machine intelligence. But once again, as economists, we believe some simple rules apply. Technological revolutions tend to involve some important activity becoming cheap, like the cost of communication or finding information. Machine intelligence is, in its essence, a prediction technology, so the economic shift will center around a drop in the cost of prediction.
The first effect of machine intelligence will be to lower the cost of goods and services that rely on prediction. This matters because prediction is an input to a host of activities including transportation, agriculture, healthcare, energy manufacturing, and retail.
When the cost of any input falls so precipitously, there are two other well-established economic implications. First, we will start using prediction to perform tasks where we previously didn’t. Second, the value of other things that complement prediction will rise.
An automated army of pro-Donald J. Trump chatbots overwhelmed similar programs supporting Hillary Clinton five to one in the days leading up to the presidential election, according to a report published Thursday by researchers at Oxford University.
The chatbots — basic software programs with a bit of artificial intelligence and rudimentary communication skills — would send messages on Twitter based on a topic, usually defined on the social network by a word preceded by a hashtag symbol, like #Clinton.
Their purpose: to rant, confuse people on facts, or simply muddy discussions, said Philip N. Howard, a sociologist at the Oxford Internet Institute and one of the authors of the report. If you were looking for a real debate of the issues, you weren’t going to find it with a chatbot.
Related: Fake web traffic.
When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.
Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.
Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance. Stephanie got her mother to write her a check. “You do anything you can in a situation like
that,” she says. The Recchis flew to Houston, leaving Stephanie’s mother to care for their two teenage children.
Scavino was the titular head of the multi-million-strong virtual community called the Trump Train, creating content and building memes that fueled passion for Trump into a victory. He was one of the few who had access to the @realdonaldtrump Twitter account and would send out tweets on Trump’s behalf. “His genius,” Glassner said, “is that he can read the candidate extremely well and understand the messaging he’ll want to put out at any given time, every given day. It’s being a spokesman times a hundred.”
As a 16-year-old, Scavino had ambitions to work for Trump, and climbed his way up through the company to become a general manager. Scavino, a devout Catholic, is now so close to the Trumps that the campaign staff said they view him as more like a member of the family.