For the Weekend: Fred Clark: The Duty of Speaking Ill of the Dead

Information is valuable. But are our information overlords creating value for them out of the information they collect about us by figuring out what goods and services they can offer to sell us that will make us happy and advance our purposes? Or are they creating value for them out of the information they collect about us by figuring out how to manipulate and deceive us into giving them money and taking actions that benefit them but that do not make us happy or advance our purposes? In the case of Fox News, it is clear that the well-being and informed orientation to the world of its viewership is the last thing it cares about. In the case of Facebook, its eagerness to cheaply sell indicators of which of its customers are easily grifted is sobering, and contemptible. But are the others much better—the New York Times and Washington Post reporters and editors who work for their insider sources rather than their readers, the financial pundits seeking to tell viewers about the latest unicorn pump-and-dump scheme? These are the questions about the interaction of the public sphere with the market that we should be talking about:

Idle Words: The New Wilderness: "To what extent is living in a surveillance-saturated world compatible with pluralism and democracy? What are the consequences of raising a generation of children whose every action feeds into a corporate database? What does it mean to be manipulated from an early age by machine learning algorithms that adaptively learn to shape our behavior? That is not the conversation Facebook or Google want us to have. Their totalizing vision is of a world with no ambient privacy and strong data protections, dominated by the few companies that can manage to hoard information at a planetary scale...