Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Keep your eyes on the ball, Cambridge Analytica is not it.

The whole Cambridge Analytica affair, which came about when some limited Facebook data on 87 million people was presumably misappropriated, seems now used a lot to hide the fact that the existence at Facebook of much more detailed data on 2.2 billion people poses, almost by definition, a bigger problem.

Since regulations might come, whether we like it or not, like many I have been giving some thoughts on how to regulate Facebook. This is what I have come up with. First of all, let us avoid many complicated hard to understand rules and go for some very simple few ones. Among these I would suggest: 

Have Facebook respect our very scarce attention span by limiting the ads it generates to a maximum of 3 per person on a per hour on line basis.

Prohibit all data collection on truly private matters such as political, religious or sexual preferences.

And foremost a total prohibition on handing over any data to government agencies. The last thing we need is for Facebook and similar to enter into profitable "Big Brother is Watching You” joint ventures with governments. I am from Venezuela, and I have seen enough damage having been caused by governments taking over traditional media, to want to think about these being able to exploit social media. Can you imagine Maduro using our Facebook data to decide with much more precision, who to give his food-boxes to?

We "The Resistance", might urgently need to create alternative underground social media.

PS. Of course I would love to see some of the advertising revenues we allowed Facebook to earn, return to us whose data is being exploited, perhaps by means of helping to fund a Universal Basic Income


Monday, April 09, 2018

Since you don’t eat gold-bars, just redistributing of wealth solves very little, or even nothing.

The Guardian writes: “An alarming projection produced by the House of Commons library suggests that if trends seen since the 2008 financial crash were to continue, then the top 1% will hold 64% of the world’s wealth by 2030… equating to $305tn” “Richest 1% on target to own two-thirds of all wealth by 2030”, April 7, 2018.
How awfully unjust… but… how do you productively convert that wealth into the products or assets that could be useful for the 99%, without unexpected consequences or without most wealth just going to a 1%, or less, of some new filthy-rich wealthy?

How much value of that $305tn of wealth would just evaporate by the redistribution? And what would that do to the value of the then projected $152 wealth in the hands of 99%?

For instance what would happen to the price of a Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”, in which, someone very wealthy, agreed to freeze $450 million of his main-street purchase capacity? How do you turn that wealth into something the poorer of the 99% need?

Where would the stock market value head?

Where would the interest rate, for instance on public debt go?

Where would the prices of houses head?

And if wealth gets too much distributed, who is going to demand that which only the really wealthy 1% can afford to demand, and which creates a lot of jobs that would otherwise not exist?

It is amazing how much discussions there are about the need to redistribute wealth without any consideration to what that redistribution would entail. Could that be because that is not in the interest of any redistribution or polarization profiteers?

As I see it there is much more to be gained by capturing more income before it has been converted into wealth assets. Just redistributing existing wealth is a one-shot unsustainable top-down approach.

Much better is a very modest starting Universal Basic Income where you little by little begin to build up a societal dividend that will keep the redistribution and polarization profiteers at bay. And that is of course why the latter hate UBI… as it eats into the value of their franchise.