The Black Box Society

The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information

The Black Box Society

Every day, corporations are connecting the dots about our personal behavior—silently scrutinizing clues left behind by our work habits and Internet use. But who connects the dots about what firms are doing with all this information? Frank Pasquale exposes how powerful interests abuse secrecy for profit and explains ways to rein them in.

Internet Daemons

Digital Communications Possessed

Internet Daemons

A complete history and theory of internet daemons brings these little-known—but very consequential—programs into the spotlight We’re used to talking about how tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon rule the internet, but what about daemons? Ubiquitous programs that have colonized the Net’s infrastructure—as well as the devices we use to access it—daemons are little known. Fenwick McKelvey weaves together history, theory, and policy to give a full account of where daemons come from and how they influence our lives—including their role in hot-button issues like network neutrality. Going back to Victorian times and the popular thought experiment Maxwell’s Demon, McKelvey charts how daemons evolved from concept to reality, eventually blossoming into the pandaemonium of code-based creatures that today orchestrates our internet. Digging into real-life examples like sluggish connection speeds, Comcast’s efforts to control peer-to-peer networking, and Pirate Bay’s attempts to elude daemonic control (and skirt copyright), McKelvey shows how daemons have been central to the internet, greatly influencing everyday users. Internet Daemons asks important questions about how much control is being handed over to these automated, autonomous programs, and the consequences for transparency and oversight.

Life by Algorithms

How Roboprocesses Are Remaking Our World

Life by Algorithms

Computerized processes are everywhere in our society. They are the automated phone messaging systems that businesses use to screen calls; the link between student standardized test scores and public schools’ access to resources; the algorithms that regulate patient diagnoses and reimbursements to doctors. The storage, sorting, and analysis of massive amounts of information have enabled the automation of decision-making at an unprecedented level. Meanwhile, computers have offered a model of cognition that increasingly shapes our approach to the world. The proliferation of “roboprocesses” is the result, as editors Catherine Besteman and Hugh Gusterson observe in this rich and wide-ranging volume, which features contributions from a distinguished cast of scholars in anthropology, communications, international studies, and political science. Although automatic processes are designed to be engines of rational systems, the stories in Life by Algorithms reveal how they can in fact produce absurd, inflexible, or even dangerous outcomes. Joining the call for “algorithmic transparency,” the contributors bring exceptional sensitivity to everyday sociality into their critique to better understand how the perils of modern technology affect finance, medicine, education, housing, the workplace, food production, public space, and emotions—not as separate problems but as linked manifestations of a deeper defect in the fundamental ordering of our society.

Understanding the People and Performance Link

Unlocking the Black Box

Understanding the People and Performance Link

This report, the most in-depth of its kind to date, confirms the powerful relationships between HR practices, employee commitment and operating performance. It is based on a three-year investigation which looked at the HR practices, staff views and performance in 11 large organisations including Jaguar Cars, Nationwide Building Society, Selfridges and Tesco. The study provides answers to why and how people management practices influence business performance - to unlock what has been termed the 'black box'. Key conclusions include:- the most carefully thought-through HR strategy is a waste of time unless it is embraced by line managers who have the skills and understanding necessary to engage and motivate employees - where effective HR practices are not in place, levels of employee commitment are up to 90 per cent lower - an organisation needs a clear direction and purpose, beyond the bland mission statement or generic goal of financial returns, which engages, enthuses and unites people. At the Nationwide Building Society this is a commitment to mutuality. At Royal United Hospital Bath it is saving lives. This 'big idea' appears essential in motivating and directing people behind the strategy of the organisation.

Exploring the Black Box

Technology, Economics, and History

Exploring the Black Box

This book presents a unique account of how technological change is generated and the processes by which improved technologies are introduced into economic activity. The central theme of the book is the idea that technological changes are often "path dependent": their form and direction tend to be influenced strongly by the particular sequence of earlier events out of which a new technology has emerged. Individual chapters explore the particular features of new technologies in different historical and sectoral contexts.

The Black Box of Bhopal

A Closer Look at the World's Deadliest Industrial Disaster

The Black Box of Bhopal

This work reveals little-known facts about the cause of the deadly gas leak from Union Carbide's Bhopal plant, and discredits the conclusions of the subsequent government-controlled investigation.

Inside the Black Box

Technology and Economics

Inside the Black Box

Economists have long treated technological phenomena as events transpiring inside a black box and, on the whole, have adhered rather strictly to a self-imposed ordinance not to inquire too seriously into what transpires inside that box. The purpose of Professor Rosenberg's work is to break open and examine the contents of the black box. In so doing, a number of important economic problems be powerfully illuminated. The author clearly shows how specific features of individual technologies have shaped a number of variables of great concern to economists: the rate of productivity improvement, the nature of learning processes underlying technological change itself, the speed of technology transfer, and the effectiveness of government policies that are intended to influence technologies in particular ways. The separate chapters of this book reflect a primary concern with some of the distinctive aspects of industrial technologies in the twentieth century, such as the increasing reliance upon science, but also the considerable subtlety and complexity of the dialectic between science and technology. Other concerns include the rapid growth in the development of costs associated with new technologies as well as the difficulty of predicting the eventual performance characteristics of newly emerging technologies.

Critical Digital Studies

A Reader, Second Edition

Critical Digital Studies

Since its initial publication, Critical Digital Studies has proven an indispensable guide to understanding digitally mediated culture. Bringing together the leading scholars in this growing field, internationally renowned scholars Arthur and Marilouise Kroker present an innovative and interdisciplinary survey of the relationship between humanity and technology. The reader offers a study of our digital future, a means of understanding the world with new analytic tools and means of communication that are defining the twenty-first century. The second edition includes new essays on the impact of social networking technologies and new media. A new section – “New Digital Media” – presents important, new articles on topics including hacktivism in the age of digital power and the relationship between gaming and capitalism. The extraordinary range and depth of the first edition has been maintained in this new edition. Critical Digital Studies will continue to provide the leading edge to readers wanting to understand the complex intersection of digital culture and human knowledge.

The Black Box

The Black Box