Society (category filter × )

AI can’t predict how a child’s life will turn out even with a ton of data
  • Social scientists can influence policymakers, but their studies may be skewed—as evidenced by new study that shows how ineffective AI is at predicting our lives.
  • Three sociologists from Princeton asked hundreds of researchers to predict six life outcomes from 13,000 data points on 4,000 families—using AI or plain statistics.
  • “None of the researchers got even close to a reasonable level of accuracy, regardless of whether they used simple statistics or cutting-edge machine learning.”
  • The data came from a 15-year long sociology study, which was designed to find out the life outcomes of children born to unmarried parents.
  • Experts say this is not surprising, and research has repeatedly shown that simple algorithms are better for assessing risk than complex black-box deep-learning algos.

Biggest companies pay the least tax, leaving society more vulnerable to pandemic – new research
  • After analyzing data from several decades, researchers warn of American corporate giants paying less tax than smaller companies, yet being less effective businesses.
  • In the past, the biggest corporations paid slightly more tax—but for 2015-18, their effective tax rate was a whopping 13% lower compared to smaller corporations.
  • The same goes for foreign taxes, with the largest corporations paying less than the small ones.
  • Huge corporations give a lot of their profits to shareholders, but the top 10% of US households own 84% of all corporate shares.
  • Despite their advantage, even Big Pharma companies failed to address the COVID crisis effectively, which begs the question: should we keep easing their taxes?

Job loss leads to more crime
  • Based on data from over 1 million laid-off Norwegian workers aged 18-40, researchers find that job loss leads to an increase in criminal charges.
  • It is one of the first studies to show that losing a job can be the cause of criminal activity.
  • One explanation is that job loss disrupts the daily schedule, creating too much free time—much more crimes happened on weekdays than on weekends.
  • Male participants were followed for over 15 years between 1990’s and 2000’s.
  • What’s interesting, there was not enough crime among women participants to include them in the study.

Too much torture in North American movies
  • Social scientists find that a troubling majority of North American films contain torture scenes.
  • They found 275 torture scenes in 27 R-rated movies, 108 PG-13 movies, 58 PG and 7 G movies.
  • What’s troubling, is that research proves that torture doesn’t work, whereas these movies almost always show that it does.
  • Right now it’s impossible to say how this affects society at large, answering this question will require further studies.
  • For now, this is a sort of warning to us, and to screenwriters who should reconsider using torture as a plot device.

The start-up bubble is finally bursting (a little bit)
  • Insane start-up market growth is slowing down, with over 30 start-ups cutting 8,000 jobs in just the last 4 months, and much fewer investments in young companies.
  • Startups like Casper, a mattress market disruptor that raised over $300 million in venture capital, are plummeting as soon as they enter the stock market.
  • Other examples include e-scooter giant Lime that pulled out of several countries, or WeWork, which announced a 2,400 people layoff last November.
  • Even marijuana start-ups are facing significant difficulties, despite having collectively raised $2.6 billion in 2019.
  • This might not become the next dot-com bubble, but it is a sign that start-ups cannot do irrational things anymore, like forgoing profit in order to disrupt markets.




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