Automation Bias in the Abstraction Age

As I dug into the meaning behind the term automation bias, I became more horrified. The benign definition is as follows: “Automation bias is the propensity for humans to favor suggestions from automated decision-making systems and to ignore contradictory information made without automation, even if it is correct.” (1)

Horror #1 because this implies we are now in an age where we trust the machine more than we trust instinct and fact. We ignore gut feelings and certainties because we think the machine knows better.  And as James Bridle most recently put it, “Automation bias means that technology doesn’t even have to malfunction for it to be a threat to our lives” (2)

Horror #2 because this concept is easily abstracted out of our day-to-day lives and its social impact.   I have written about the age of abstraction and the dangers of putting complex things in a black box. Black boxes are scary because the info they house are viewable to a select audience. (control)

Horror #3 because when you couple automation bias with black box abstraction, the path to the final source of truth is obfuscated. No single person has a full view. it’s unclear if we would understand everything even if we could see all the parts anyway (oh joy) — but being abstracted out of both logic and code erases all possibility. 

We need to be in the era of certainty and clarity not doubt and abstraction. 

New & Noteworthy

In a recent post, I grumbled about my satisfaction with new/hot lists for NYC restaurants.  As I was pondering about my ideal list, I recalled one that I used to refer to a lot was the “new“ list that used to be on the New York Magazine food area. It was simple: restaurant name and one-liner and if memory serves me, it was listed in order of recency.  Like a few spots on nymag.com back-in-the-day, the feed or whatever was populating that list started to deprecate and over time, it was completely useless until it just disappeared.  But I liked it because was not overly editorially random nor injected with manufactured drama of up- and down-movements week over week.  

The prototype of my new weekly list will not be a subjective ranked list cloaked as “trendy” or “buzzy” but simply a short alphabetized list of new places.  The unsexy working name is “New & Noteworthy” and restaurants that have been opened for more than three months will not be included. I realized that whenever I recommend a new place to a friend, I would always include the website and links to a few reviews, which is what I will do here as well.

New & Newsworthy (week of June 3)

Bar Pisellino Opened mid-May

Crown Shy Opened mid-March

Essex Market Opened mid-May

HaSalon Opened mid-April

Kāwi Opened mid-March

Le Jardinier Opened late-May

Maison Yaki Opened late-April

The Fulton Opened mid-May

Van Da Opened mid-March

Media Monday

Apple iTunes EOL.
Live broadcast today Apple WWDC19 –  10:00 a.m. PDT

The discontinuation of iTunes is good news.  iTunes was always a glorified spreadsheet never a solution. Glad to see it go, and welcome new media compartmentalization + specialization applications.  It sets the table for Apple to move properly into the TV media space.

National Broadcast

The New York Times new television series — The Weekly — debuted on Sunday

CBS News– CBS This Morning is now CTM. They blew up the talent pool and new anchor configurations are in place. The ratings up the first week of Gayle TV. Ratings for the program posted 3.1 million total viewers, up .1 from the normal 3M. I stopped watching and tune in to WPIX morning show – they took the emmy this year.

Youtube’s Algorithm

YouTube continues to fall far from any kind of meaningful curation or relevant discovery– failing hard and to the right.   This week attention to the profiting from racism and homophobia is just another in an endless list of examples. (new one from this morning – not kidding – it’s hard to keep up)

How hard would it be to follow all videos with a proper class of video content. Even if they just defaulted to PSA’s and educational programing they would be miles ahead of the hate discovery monetization algo in place now.

Link Round-up

Open Up vs Break UP – AVC
Jeff Bezos: Big Things Start Small : interview – fsblog
Twitter buys Fabula.AI – Fabula.AI
What Happens When the Copyright Pirate Is State Government? [hr]
From Verbs to War: In Conversation With Steven Pinker – MIT Press
Annie Lennox: ‘Now I Let You Go…’ Mass MOCA
A Photographer & the Complicated Legacy of ‘Heroin Chic – Guardian
The Artificial Intelligence-of-the-public-intellectual – Longreads
Jerry Saltz, New York’s Wonderfully Provocative Art Critic – Medium
Inequality Atlas – MIT