Unscaled 3: Algorithmic Canaries

How can you tell if the product that you’re creating will cause harm? What signs should Facebook have noticed long before its product wreaked havoc on democracy? There are “algorithmic canaries” to watch out for—akin to the birds used in coal mines to help detect deadly gases—now for the digital age. AI is a tool that can be harnessed to efficiently measure a product’s impact, whether good or bad.

Show notes

Hemant Taneja’s book Unscaled: How AI and a New Generation of Upstarts are Creating the Economy of the Future (referral fees will be donated to charity)

Hemant Taneja, managing director at General Catalyst

Ronda Scott, marketing partner at General Catalyst

How can product makers include algorithmic canaries? (1:30)

Historical comparisons (like the internal combustion engine) (1:40)

The benefit of AI (2:25)

Why it took so long for people to discuss the harmful effects of Facebook (4:47)

The role of the internet (5:15)

In the internal combustion engine example, what should have been done? (5:40)

Comparison to nuclear energy (6:50)

What went wrong with Facebook? (8:49)

The “move fast and break things” slogan (9:40)

The purpose of regulation (11:48)

The scooter wars (13:20)

What should they have done? (14:16)

Jump bikes (15:04)

Products that try to advantage some people at the expense of other people (16:55)

The importance of measuring impact (18:55)


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