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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.

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Upcoming events:

Mon. Dec 17th, 6pm - 7pm: Dava Whisenant, director, "Bathtubs Over Broadway" (More info...)

Options November 19, 2018: Frank Pasquale, author of "The Black Box Society," on secret algorithms

Listen to this show: MP3 - 128K | | Add or read comments



This week: Frank Pasquale, author of The Black Box Society

Relevant links:

• Twitter: @FrankPasquale

The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms Behind Money & Information

• Frank recommends following on Twitter: @podehaye, Paul-Olivier Dehaye

Recent News

HQ2. WSJ, Nov 14, called it Amazon’s Golden Fleecing: "We rarely agree with socialist Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she’s right to call billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for Amazon 'extremely concerning.' These handouts to one of the richest companies in the history of the world, with an essentially zero cost of capital, is crony capitalism at its worst.... In New York they call this a racket, and with good reason."

• from The Onion: New York City Announces Subway Just For Amazon Employees Now.

Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis (NYT, Nov 14)... which led to many followups, including...

The moral and ethical rot at Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s Facebook (Washington Post, Nov 15): "Facebook itself at one point asked Jewish advocacy groups to characterize critics of the company as engaging in anti-Semitism. (Both Zuckerberg and Sandberg are Jewish.) This is the sort of stuff the Yiddish word 'chutzpah' describes."

The Facebook Movie Told Us What We Needed to Know About Mark Zuckerberg (NYT, Nov 18): " 'The reality of running a company of more than 10,000 people,' Mr. Zuckerberg said on Thursday, 'is that you’re not going to know everything that’s going on.' It was a baffling explanation for anyone who took him and his deputy, Sheryl Sandberg, at face value when they swore, not long ago, that they would work openly to assert more control over the platform to stop misinformation campaigns, privacy breaches and incitements to violence.
Nothing was more at variance with their promises of transparency than The Times’s revelation that the company had hired Definers Public Affairs... as part of its work for Facebook, the firm circulated tip sheets suggesting that the liberal political donor George Soros — a common figure in anti-Semitic tropes — was behind a coalition of groups criticizing Facebook under the 'Freedom from Facebook' umbrella."

• Don't forget Google! Google accused of 'trust demolition' over health app (Nov 14): "A controversial health app developed by artificial intelligence firm DeepMind will be taken over by Google, it has been revealed... [the app] was first used to send alerts in a London hospital but hit headlines for gathering data on 1.6 million patients without informing them. DeepMind now wants the app to become an AI assistant for nurses and doctors around the world."

• "'Data collected by DeepMind Health will never be connected to Google accounts or services,' the company said in a previous statement... [now] DeepMind Health will be absorbed into Google Health." (CNBC)

- - -

PODCAST: Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast

Artist Track Album Images Approx. start time
  Algorithms are rating you in ways you have no knowledge of, or control over. Big Tech and Wall Street are joining forces for just this reason. On this Techtonic, Mark interviews Frank Pasquale, law professor at University of Maryland, about his book "The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information."
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options Machinarium Soundtrack 
Options
 
  Mark's intro        
  Interview with Frank Pasquale    
Options
0:22:46 (MP3 | )
  Your calls and comments 201-209-9368    
Options
0:46:40 (MP3 | )
Color Kings  Black Box   Options Black Box 
Options
0:56:16 (MP3 | )

Listener comments!

Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:01pm ultradamno:

Hello Mark! Techturitans and technanoag!
  Mon. 11/19/18 6:01pm melinda:

Hi everyone! Good one, ultradamno.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:02pm TDK60:

Go Woofmoo Tech!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:02pm northguineahills:

Wait, I thought we were techturduckens? (I can't keep track).
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:02pm Bas NL:

Mark! Techtonicae!
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:02pm geezerette:

High, Mark! (Already cringing...)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:03pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Greetings, Techturkeys!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:03pm ultradamno:

By the way did anyone catch the interview with Tim Cook on HBO's Axios yesterday? Turns out you can use and ipad to visualize what it would look like if there was a lawn chair and some bushes where you point the thing. Heavy stuff.
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:04pm geezerette:

Ke FHP, Ha! :D
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:04pm Michael 98145:

can Tim help us visualize a better future ?
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:05pm david_:

hi all... this is gonna sound dumb... is there a way to sign in on the ipad wfmu app?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:05pm TDK60:

They just need rakes. [x]
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:05pm geezerette:

...Ken...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:06pm ultradamno:

@david Yes! I'm using one right now!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:06pm chresti:

Hello! The east coast gets blizzards and hurricanes- something that doesn't happen in California
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:07pm Michael 98145:

now it appears PG&E power lines maybe started the Pleasure, er, Paradise, CA fires.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:07pm ultradamno:

Oh, you said sign on. You can comment, but I'm not sure you can sign on.
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:07pm geezerette:

TDK60, :D! You mean in "Pleasure"?

Thanks, Mark!
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:07pm david_:

@ultradamno got it
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:08pm ultradamno:

Native American
  Mon. 11/19/18 6:08pm carrots:

ArisTechcrats!!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:09pm TDK60:

geezerette: of course, "Pleasure," Calif,
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:09pm Jeff Moore:

Hey, @david_: it's not a dumb question at all.

Unfortunately, we don't yet have the iOS or Android WFMU apps integrated with Friendship Society / KenzoDB logins.

On your iPad you could visit this playlist page in mobile Safari to do properly logged-in commenting and song favoriting.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:10pm ultradamno:

It's a play on Wampanoag
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:10pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

'On the Media' just had a great segment on this Amazon biz :
www.wnycstudios.org...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:11pm Jeff Moore:

It was a complete coincidence that after all that the two sites chosen happened to be the places Jeff B already had homes.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:11pm herb.nyc:

If Dave Hill were here, he'd say Amazon HQ2 is "in my pants".
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:11pm TDK60:

Did you hear? The NY State governor said he'd like to change his first name to "Amazon." True!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:11pm Michael 98145:

wait until you new Amazonians start paying astronomical property taxes to give Amazon its tax breaks
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:11pm Megaroni:

Thanks Techtonic! Love this show
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:11pm david_:

@jeff thanks, doing so now!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:11pm queems:

guhhhhhhh
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:12pm Mister Dobalina:

I'm sure there were lots of kickbacks for nYc politicians as well.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:12pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

(Been listening very gratefully to 'On The Media' lately btw...)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:12pm queems:

that comic is about to be my life every day
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:12pm Folsom:

Links still don't open up in a separate tab/window.
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:12pm geezerette:

So pathetic.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:13pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

'Amazon wants to BE the market'...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:13pm TDK60:

Whatever happened to that "progressive" mayor of New York City?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:13pm queems:

glad deblasio and cuomo finally found something to agree on at everyone else's expense
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:13pm Mister Dobalina:

This is almost as horrible of a deal if not worst than the Foxconn deal in Wisconsin.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:14pm Jeff Moore:

Was it the OTM piece which had that nice discussion of monopoly vs. monopsony?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:14pm dale:

why doesn't amazon put a headquarters in a city that needs growth, like detroit?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:14pm Michael 98145:

are we to understand Foxconn is importing Chinese to work in this factory?
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:15pm geezerette:

So much for momm&pop buissnesses in Jacson Hts, etc. Goodbye to actual diversity...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:15pm queems:

it took me 5 hours to get home but i know people who had it way worse
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:15pm Mister Dobalina:

The tax cuts roughly translate to about $350 dollars for every New York resident, handed over to Amazon.
  Mon. 11/19/18 6:16pm melinda:

That happened in Portland ME several years ago, a small amount of snow and total chaos.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:16pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Reminds me of what Harry Shearer is always saying about the Olympics...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:16pm Fuzzy:

"It's a big club...and YOU AIN'T IN IT."
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:17pm geezerette:

We are serfs.
  Mon. 11/19/18 6:17pm Tyuge:

Amen.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:18pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Yeah - down a Marxist peg from Capitalism to Feudalism...there's your supposed 'Free Market'...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:18pm Jeff Moore:

Democratic Socialist.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:18pm Michael 98145:

Seattle has so many homeless living on the streets it's starting to look like New Delhi. (apologies to India.)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:18pm Mister Dobalina:

The cartoon of people sitting on top of the 7 train which runs through a good part of western Queens is dead on. That line, like most of the MTA is super out of control hectic especially during rush hours.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:18pm Folsom:

On The Media had an interview with David Dayen talking about all the data the cities gave to Amazon was worth more than the handouts.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:19pm Zetti:

Bezos earns 191K per minute.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:19pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Data Monopoly...Digital Monopoly...
  Mon. 11/19/18 6:19pm carrots:

go'head!!
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:20pm geezerette:

Michael, 52,000 in L.A ;growing in every city in U.S..
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:20pm dale:

rev rab, i was just listening to someone, maybe sliwa, talk about how nobody wants the olympics in their city anymore (except dictators) because the money they hoped for never really materializes.
  Mon. 11/19/18 6:20pm jane:

talked with a business owner in Astoria Queens last wk.
He said that Amazon will not be obligated to pay any taxes, in perpetuity if they stay located Queens
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:20pm Jeff Moore:

Yay, economic golden showers.
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:22pm geezerette:

Jeff! Good one!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:22pm Monica:

Read that WSJ editorial. Shame on Cuomo and DeBlasio. It's like they paid a handsome prince in order to marry off their ugly daughter when, in fact,she already has many suitors. I live in Sunnyside (part of LIC), btw.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:22pm TDK60:

Don't get me started on the subway...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:24pm TDK60:

Jeff, it's nothing personal. Actually, as a person, he doesn't interest me at all.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:24pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Facebook in the funny papers: www.mallardfillmore.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:24pm mrdonutsu:

HQ2 isn't nearly as big a story as FB. It's just your NYC bias. HA! ;)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:25pm northguineahills:

There was once a proposal to put an overheard freeway connected to the BQE to Maspeth/Sunnyside/Ridgewood/East Williamsburg/Greenpoint for truck traffic. Anything come from that.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:26pm northguineahills:

(It seems said throughway would be germane to HQ2.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:27pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

What about the News this week that faceborg hired a PR firm the Republicans used to smear Soros ? :
www.npr.org...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:28pm Folsom:

Virginia putting $1B into education for Amazon, you would think they would do that anyway to improve odds of companies locating in Virginia.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:29pm ultradamno:

From Wiki: The Wampanoag originally spoke Wôpanâak, a dialect of the Massachusett language which belongs to the Algonquian languages family
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:32pm Mark Hurst:

Hi everyone!
@ultradamno - ahh thanks, now I get it
@Folsom - thx, I should listen to that interview. Sounds right.... also, for links, reload & try it again :)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:33pm Mark Hurst:

@Queems, sorry that the subway out there is going to be jammed. Too bad we don't have enough resources to fix the subway infra... "who knows where all the money went!"
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:33pm Webhamster Henry:

It's the old "teaching to the test" / "learning to the test" problem.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:33pm Mark Hurst:

@RevRabbit, @mrdonutsu - yes, I should still say something about FB. that's also a huge story. I just needed to move on to the interview.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:34pm Michael 98145:

love the story about gaming the job application robots.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:34pm Webhamster Henry:

This white text thing is like the old Baysiian spam foolers!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:35pm Folsom:

@mark thanks for fixing the links! Here's the link to On The Media about Amazon: www.wnycstudios.org...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:38pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Automobile manufacturer looking for additional revenue streams has an idea: selling your data. www.freep.com... ("Facebook as a model" ... They want your driving experience to be more open and connected? Ugh!)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:38pm Alison Porchnik:

Safiyah Noble has been doing a lot of work on search algorithms. It goes way beyond "Your Google isn't my Google." www.technologyreview.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:39pm Folsom:

I missed the David Brin book, was it "The Transparent Society"?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:39pm Webhamster Henry:

As if you aren't training driving AIs every time you have to fill in a CAPTCHA these days.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:40pm Folsom:

@ken there is a guy at work who put in a dongle into his OBD2 port to tell his insurance what/how he drives, gets lower rates.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:41pm Michael 98145:

"The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us To Choose Between Privacy And Freedom?" i believe
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:42pm Mark Hurst:

@Alison - thanks, good pointer - I hope Safiyah Noble will be on the show at some point.
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:42pm geezerette:

Tragic.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:43pm Mark Hurst:

@KenfromHP - yes - another item I wanted to mention, ran out of time. Ford diving into surveillance capitalism!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:43pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Drumpf obviously cares nothing for facts nor consistency.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:44pm Michael 98145:

From The Black Box Society blurb: "Self-serving and reckless behavior is surprisingly common, and easy to hide in code protected by legal and real secrecy."
  Mon. 11/19/18 6:45pm Robert Tables:

@Henry, yes I hate that I'm doing free work for google by solving those.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:45pm Michael 98145:

The current regime will do nothing to curb this data mining.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:47pm northguineahills:

@Henry: Am bot. Turing test passed!
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:47pm geezerette:

The Stasi never dreamt of this kind of power.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:48pm Alison Porchnik:

@Mark - that would be great! I saw her speak last year. Really fascinating/disturbing stuff.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:49pm northguineahills:

I seemed to be drawn like a moth to flame to all of the horrifying museums in Berlin (stasi, SS, Holocaust (that one was amazing from an artistic POV).
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:49pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

@Michael98145:
...unless it appealed to his Base. Drumpf's happy to play things both ways if it serves him.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:49pm northguineahills:

then there's the currywurst museum....
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:50pm geezerette:

For perspective, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford...
The tussle never stops.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:51pm Folsom:

Any response from Michael Chertoff for an interview?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:51pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Ford was all kinds of Antisemitic...
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:53pm geezerette:

RR, extreme.
Avatar Mon. 11/19/18 6:57pm geezerette:

Mark, thanks for doing this!
Enjoy the holiday!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:57pm TDK60:

Thanks Mark.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:58pm Michael 98145:

thanks again, Mark H
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 6:59pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark & Frank!
  Mon. 11/19/18 6:59pm Tyuge:

Thank you Mark. I've enjoyed the energy the past few episodes.. lots to be angry about.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 7:00pm Webhamster Henry:

Thanks Mark! I'll have to catch the front end of the show in the archives.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 7:02pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone! geezerette, TDK60, Michael, Bas, Tyuge, WHenry, everyone. Have a happy Thanksgiving, if you're in the US.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 7:02pm Mark Hurst:

@Folsom, unfortunately never heard back. Tried multiple times.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 7:02pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Thx MH !
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 7:05pm Mark Hurst:

@Thx, RR, have a good week
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 11/19/18 9:19pm Michael 98145:

Seriously, though. Amazon has done little more for Seattle than attract a horde with little or no investment in the city, driven up house prices ( and property taxes ) so high long-time residents are leaving for other towns, and done little to alleviate the homeless crisis.
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