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

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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 deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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