An annotated digest of the top “Hacker” “News” posts for the second week of August, 2022.
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Did you know that with macOS Ventura, Clarus the Dogcow has at long last returned home? Recently, while doing something else, I accidentally hit Cmd+Shift+P which opened the Page Setup dialog. I was greeted, surprisingly, with a new high-resolution version of the classic Clarus icon that I’d never seen before. I looked at it briefly, and then closed the dialog and went back to whatever I was doing before. I had assumed that because I’d been in a 3rd-party app at the time, that the Clarus icon was just some easter egg the developer had left. But a little while later, I got to thinking. What were the chances that someone went to the trouble of customizing the Page Setup dialog, of all things, just for an easter egg? Zero, it turns out. That dialog shows Clarus on the page preview in every app.
I am subscribed to Marques Brownlee on YouTube. I watch almost every one of his videos. YouTube is smart. It knows this, it recommends me almost all of his videos. But not this one. No matter how many times I refresh the page. No matter how far down the page I scroll. Despite the fact that the video has gotten 2.3 million views in 16 hours, performing better than a number of his recent videos. Despite the fact that it’s recommending me videos that are from people I am not subscribed to, videos that are years old, videos that I have watched before, videos that are about politics, videos that are about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
This is what algorithmic bias looks like. Algorithms are not neutral.
“Algorithm” is a word here used not in the purely computer science sense, but to mean a element of software which operates in a black box, often with a machine learning component, with little or no human supervision, input, or control. ↩︎