odds and sods

Online advertising exploits humanity’s malleable tastes [FT] Nobel Prize winner Paul Romer has called for a tax on online advertising. He identifies online targeted ads as the source of socially corrosive behaviours and argues that a tax might shift the digital business models to the old-fashioned one of selling people a service they want to buy. The Romer tax would be an excellent start to limiting not only the social or civic costs but also the economic time cost to this massive behaviourist experiment. Competition investigations are another weapon in the policy armoury to limit the harm to economic welfare. Regulation limiting the amount of online advertising — as with TV advertising — may be needed too

A Guide to Thesis Writing That Is a Guide to Life . When everything else you learned in college is marooned in the past—when you happen upon an old notebook and wonder what you spent all your time doing, since you have no recollection whatsoever of a senior-year postmodernism seminar—it is the thesis that remains, providing the once-mastered scholarly foundation that continues to authorize, decades-later, barroom observations about the late-career works of William Faulker or the Hotelling effect. 

Security lapse exposed a Chinese smart city surveillance system [techcrunch] the database also contained a subject’s approximate age as well as an “attractive” score, according to the database fields. But the capabilities of the system have a darker side, particularly given the complicated politics of China. The system also uses its facial recognition systems to detect ethnicities and labels them …related read: How Mass Surveillance Works in Xinjiang, China – ‘Reverse Engineering’ Police App Reveals Profiling and Monitoring Strategies [hrw]