A warning and a foreshadowing of what will ultimately be a major issue in the years to come within the electronic world.

THE HUNDREDTH WINDOW

PROTECTING YOUR PRIVACY AND SECURITY IN THE AGE OF THE INTERNET

A well-meaning but ultimately sketchy study that tackles the problem of maintaining privacy in the ever-developing world of the Internet.

The title refers to the theory that, even if you have bars and locks on 99 of your 100 windows, only one left open and unguarded will put you at risk. The authors, cofounders of the Internet watchdog group TRUSTe, paint a scary portrait. Individuals are being monitored electronically every minute of the day, they claim, via e-mail, chat groups, cellular telephones, and illicit spy-cams that feed unauthorized video onto the Net. The Internet has evolved from a noncommercial arena into one that is largely driven by e-commerce, and this has led to the growing importance of data collection on individuals—known as PII (“personally identifiable information”)—in order to capture tastes, values, and behavior of consumers. Anyone can click onto a website and thus unwittingly become an identifiable piece of data—to be passed around and used by companies, the government, or individuals. While PII collection has enabled e-commerce to offer helpful customized goods and services, the relatively easy access to personal information can lead to harassment, identity theft, online fraud, racial profiling, and other dangers. Because of modern computing systems’ flaws and the rapid development of the Internet, the authors admit that it is hard to offer solutions to the privacy issue. They do offer some useful tips and tricks (such as suggesting that you create an online identity that is separate from your e-mail address and do not reply directly to spammers), and there is a chapter that ranks the ten companies with the best privacy sites. Articles in the appendix show how Big Brother is indeed watching over us.

A warning and a foreshadowing of what will ultimately be a major issue in the years to come within the electronic world.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-83944-X

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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