Zuckerberg: The Facts About Facebook

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg wrote this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, attempting to address the concerns about its business model.

Its a twenty-first century company so I support that aspect. I don’t have a problem with what he wrote or how it operates, except he didn’t explain if/why conservative and right-leaning posts and ads are blocked. The paragraph about “harmful or divisive content” does not explain it. If id does, he further needs to explain why conservative content fits that description, especially considering what comes from progressives — see the recent comments about the Covington students. So, the op-ed is incomplete.

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Regulate Big Tech?

Ah, no. Can we trust elected officials and regulators to even know how to regulate or restrict the activities of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Apple, Twitter?

F.H. Buckley: 

Let’s start with the left’s version of this argument. Critics like former Labor Secretary Robert Reich point out that Big Tech is too big, that Silicon Valley’s vast wealth gives it too much political clout. It’s a complaint that recalls the trust-busters of a hundred years ago.

Yet the threat of government intervention is going to give us more, not less, money in politics. Microsoft went into lobbying overdrive following a 1999 breakup order, and it’s vigilance against government intervention that impels Google to spend $17 million a year on lobbying.

. . .

Now let’s turn to the right’s Big Tech anxieties. What really bothers conservatives is the liberal bias of the social-media giants. Mainstream conservatives have been banned on YouTube and “shadow-banned” on Twitter. Terrible, yes, but the proposed cure would be worse than the disease.

When politicians have taken it upon themselves to promote “balanced” speech, it’s been a disaster for conservatives. Until 1987, the Federal Communication Commission’s fairness doctrine required broadcasters to provide honest and balanced viewpoints, and that’s what kept the Rush Limbaughs off the air. But that’s just what conservatives are now asking for when it comes to Big Tech.

They’re asking the swamp to regulate Big Tech, and not just the swamp but the deepest of swamp-dwellers: Democratic pol­iticians who themselves have tried to silence opponents — as they did when they asked Lois Lerner’s IRS to slow-walk approving tax-exempt status for Tea Party groups. Why would conservatives trust the same crowd to promote free speech online?

 

Are You Ready for the ‘Inevitable’ Clampdown on Tech and the Media?

Figure Nick Gillespie skeptical:

Factor in the housing bust from a decade ago, the Great Recession, mall closings, the opioid epidemic, and whatever else you want to, and any semi-serious analysis is going to conclude that over the last few decades, “The living standards of Americans have vastly improved during the past 50 years, with the quality of available consumer products steadily rising even as their prices have steeply fallen.”

Me: there’ll be more corruption, greater market concentration, fewer choices, higher costs, lower living standards with more regulatory control. Check this:

When actually talking to Congress, Zuck (Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg) even volunteered to help write the regulations, while noting that the more Facebook and social media are regulated, the less likely it is that a rival will emerge.

How altruistic, he’ll help write the regulations — for the benefit of Facebook and every other company whose representatives can influence him. That’s the way government regulation works. They’re not going to do it the way they say or what you think.

Notes About Automation

Automation scares people these days: driverless cars, robots doing housework and manufacturing parts, devices that listen and talk to you.

Automation means a machine of some sort does the work instead of humans. “Machine” is a generic term that changes depending on the situation. Consider something you may be familiar with, for example, automatic payments to pay some of your bills. Do you pay your cable, electric, mortgage, rent, credit cards, or insurance electronically? That’s automation. You no longer manually write checks or send cash and there is no person on the receiving end opening the envelopes or counting the cash. There is no mail delivery to transport the checks or cash. Imaging yourself having to write 15-20 checks per month. No frickin’ way. The convenience is too good to give up.

Well, automation is taking place elsewhere, and that’s what we see. Do you have an electronic account with the medical center or hospital? Let’s you see your lab results, schedule appointments, pay bills.

And that’s only you as a consumer involved. How about business-to-business or within an organization? That’s robots or just some computer software to automate calculations.

Technology, of whatever type, is important to automation because that is the physical thing doing the work. But technology is useless without human action to invent the ways in which it could be used. Even a chainsaw is an improvement over an ax. And a car is an improvement over a horse.

If you’re worried about people losing their jobs, well, automation takes over the repetitive tasks humans can do. It may seem better to have a job where you perform repetitive tasks over-and-over, but after a while you’ve perfected the movements, what’s left? You’d feel like a machine, a cog in the wheel. That’s not good for your mental health.

Bashing Trade with Mexico

Mary Anastasia O’Grady in the WSJ on Trump’s bashing of trade with Mexico:

Exhibit A is his promise to shred the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) on the grounds that Mexico, his favorite bête noire, is stealing American jobs. It is technology, not free trade, that is behind the shrinking number of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Beating Nafta like a piñata worked in the Republican primary. But it is likely to hurt Mr. Trump and GOP candidates further down the ticket in the general election. Mexico is, after all, the U.S.’s third-largest trading partner and second-largest export market.

. . .

Indiana, the home of GOP vice-presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence, exported some $4.8 billion of goods to Mexico in 2015, making it the state’s second-largest export market.

. . .

Exports to Mexico were over $1 billion in 31 states in 2015. It’s the largest export market for California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It ranks second for 25 other states.

. . .

Trade wars will also damage U.S. competitiveness. As former Mexican deputy trade minister Luis de la Calle explained in a conference call to investors in New York earlier this month, Carrier Corp.’s production move to Mexico from Indiana—much-assailed by Mr. Trump—means that the company can survive Asian competition and can retain U.S. jobs in research, development, marketing and high-end components.

. . .

Mr. Irwin cites a study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, which “found that productivity growth accounted for more than 85 percent of the job loss in manufacturing between 2000 and 2010, a period when employment in that sector fell by 5.6 million.” This 85% compares, according to the study, with 13% of job losses attributed to trade during the same period.

. . .

It is “high-education” and “low-education” jobs—requiring “interpersonal interaction, flexibility, adaptability and problem solving”—that are most difficult to automate Mr. Autor notes. Traditional middle-education jobs have been the easiest to replace with technology.

Whoops, the unintended consequences. This same problem goes for Hillary Clinton and any other critic of trade.

I wondered what “competitiveness” meant. The above quote contains an example.

Not a neat situation that lends itself to a government program.

Behind firewall here.

Netscape Co-founder Marc Andreessen: Why Software Is Eating The World

But both moves are also in line with a trend I’ve observed, one that makes me optimistic about the future growth of the American and world economies, despite the recent turmoil in the stock market.
. . .
My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.
. . .
Why is this happening now?

Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.

Awesome stuff, Marc.