"The Knowledge Machine": some brief impressions

Over the past few days, I have read Michael Strevens’s The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science . This book caught my attention because it creates a clash between two biases of mine: while, on the one hand, I am sceptical about method-centric accounts of science, I am also very interested in seeing treatments of the irrational elements of scientific practice.1 So, after seeing some enthusiastic reviews on Twitter, I decided to give this book a try.

"The Ministry for the Future": some impressions

In October 2020, legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson published his final book-length story: The Ministry for the Future. The book’s story begins with a massive heatwave in India in the near future, which kills millions of people and spurs global action. Most of the narrative is centred on the so-called Ministry, an international organisation based on Zurich and created with limited powers to defend the interests of the future generations within the Paris Agreement framework.

The streetlight effect in software regulation

Happy New Year, everyone! The start of this new year also brings my second term in Italy, after a very productive (but exhausting!) first term. In the last few months, I learned much and meet various colleagues and professors, and joined some interesting projects. However, I have not blogged as much as I planned, and that is something I intend to change, as blog posts seem a good medium for texts that are too big for a reasonable Twitter thread and too informal (or still undeveloped) for a paper.

Thinking about the law through fiction

Like many scholars, I did not get much published in 2020. However, one of my projects that did move forward is a book chapter on Dune and corporate law, written in Portuguese (with João Gabriel Arato Ferreira) for a book on geek law. In this chapter, we analyse the corporate structure of the CHOAM Company, a major player in the first books of the Dune series, and compare it with Brazilian corporate law.

Should one learn to program before discussing AI regulation?

Arrigo Sacchi is a famous football coach, who led Milan to back-to-back European titles and took the Italian National Team to the 1994 World Cup Final 1. Unusually for a world-class manager, Sacchi had never played football professionally, which led unsympathetic outsiders to question his credentials as a manager. His response to this line of criticism, however, became famous in footballing circles: “A jockey has never been a horse, either”.

Externalities from content moderation

Well, it has been a while since my latest update other than sharing classroom notes. Since the beginning of this year, I spent a lot of time putting out fires in some projects, while at the same time trying to conclude the final courses for my law degree. As a result, I did not achieve the kind of posting regularity that is healthy for a blog. Still, at least this effort paid off, and I ended up moving across the Atlantic to join the European University Institute as a doctoral researcher.

General reading impressions, weeks 7 and 8

Hello all! As mentioned in my previous post, I got married last week. Between my wedding and the honeymoon, I did not read a lot of new stuff (except for advancing on some of my ongoing long reads). So, this set of recommendations will be even sparser than usual. Papers Oliver Haimson et al.. 2020 forthcoming. Designing Trans Technology. Accepted to CHI ‘20, April 25–30, 2020, Honolulu, HI, USA.

General reading impressions - 2020 Week 6

Hello, all! This week’s reading were somewhat narrow in scope, as I had to finish some writing projects and application before my marriage leave next week. Papers Joanna J Bryson and Andras Theodorou. 2019. How Society Can Maintain Human-Centric Artificial Intelligence. Human-Centered Digitalization and Services, edited by M. Toivonen and E. Saari, Translational Systems Sciences 19, Springer Nature Singapore. Shows that centering AI on human needs and interests is not only desirable but technically feasible.

General reading impressions - 2020 Week 5

This week’s post is a little late, as my house spent most of yesterday without power. So, here come the usual comments on texts. Papers Ann-Sophie Barwich. 2019. The Value of Failure in Science: The Story of Grandmother Cells in Neuroscience. Frontiers in Neuroscience 13. Provides an interesting analysis of the concept of a grandmother cell and its empirical and conceptual shortcomings, but, more importantly, makes a solid case for the importance of studying scientific failures.

General reading impressions - 2020 Week 4

In this week, most of my readings were directed towards two goals: finishing a grant application (on a theme not covered by the recommendations below) and becoming acquainted with some technical literature that is relevant for my research interests: while I don’t work directly with human-computer interaction, competition law, or the economics of AI, understanding what is going on in those subjects is relevant for discussing AI regulation. I also managed to squeeze in some leisure reads, which could be of interest.