Go ahead, dig in, this is quality stuff! Welcome to Catching Up.
Data is everywhere, and leaks, abuses, intrusions, fraud, measurement biases and other scandals are becoming more frequent. The only positive in all this is that data quality has become a priority: from measurement and distribution to security, interpretation, compliance, even ethics. What if we asked our data scientists and chief data officers to do a little soul searching? How about a tech version of the Hippocratic Oath? Scientific integrity and rigor, transparency, equity, the respect of privacy, responsibility, and independence. These are the commandments that make up the ethical checklist developed by Data for Good. This initiative calls on every professional working with data or algorithms (collection, storage, processing, modelling, analysis or design) to think deeply about their practice and remain aware of the consequences it has on individuals and society. Now that’s a manifesto worth signing!
Quality is assimilated quantity.Léon-Paul Fargue.
Purity or freedom?
It’s one or the other. France’s president has inclinations towards sterilisation when it comes to Internet users’ freedom of speech. He recommends we waive our anonymity on social networks in the name of information purity. Imagine having to upload your ID to sign up on Twitter. In the GDPR era that we live in, this is quite the paradox. This logic has already been condemned by the French advocacy group La Quadrature du Net, which states that anonymity is a right associated with freedom of speech and communication, and the right to privacy. It is recognised as such internationally, including by the European Court of Human Rights. At its core, wouldn’t such a law imply that only the political entity in power decides what is and isn’t real? And yet, who could ever deny that the government sometimes lies? How can we not be wary of a descent towards totalitarianism and the abuse of power?
Coding for all?
Learning how to code helps you understand the digital world, and is above all a great way to find a job given today’s shortage of web developers. Consider the success of coding boot camps, Simplon and the 42 school, for example. Yet it remains a divisive issue. Some see a risk should this training become too widespread. Massive developer training plans will lead to a lot of disappointments, warns Laurent Alexandre, who fears that the complete automation of coding will be possible with AI in the coming years. This is similar to Chris Wanstrath’s thesis. The co-founder of GitHub goes so far as to predict that the future of code is no code at all. And yet, in the U.S., there is a mad rush towards the computer science sector. Universities are, in fact, struggling to keep up, and this has consequences for course quality (overcrowded classrooms, teacher shortages). Whether you’re a strong supporter of coding education, it seems that at least some knowledge of digital culture is nonetheless essential. There is clearly demand, and opportunities exist. With us, for example.
The failure strategy
Crashes, shoddy work, bugs, snafus, mess-ups, junk: it’s her jam. Meet Simone Giertz, the queen of Shitty Robots. Giertz praises failure as an antidote to perfection. The engineer shows us her inventions, each one as useless as the next. It’s a strategy of failure that discourages narrow-minded demands for excellence and perfectionism. And it feels so good.
See you next time on the Internets!