• What You Don’t Know About Human Intuition Can Hurt You

    Learn from the Flaws of Human IntuitionNir’s Note: This guest post is by Francesca Gino, an associate professor of #business Administration at Harvard Business School and the author of “Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan”A few years ago, Joe Marks, then Disney’s vice president of research, visited Tokyo Disneyland and was puzzled by a particular behavior he observed there. Park visitors were standing in line, often for many hours at a time, outside a shop in the park’s Frontierland. Marks found out that they were waiting to buy an inexpensive (less than $10) leather bracelet on which they could have a name painted or embossed.Why were the bracelets in such demand? Joe wondered. And why weren’t other stores in the park selling the same bracelets, so (...)

    #tech #human-intuition #entrepreneurship #startup

  • Chinese scientists are creating #CRISPR babies - MIT Technology Review

    According to Chinese medical documents posted online this month (here and here), a team at the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, has been recruiting couples in an effort to create the first gene-edited babies. They planned to eliminate a gene called CCR5 in hopes of rendering the offspring resistant to #HIV, smallpox, and cholera.

    #recherche #génétique #gattaca

  • Sun-dimming aerosols could curb global warming - CNN

    (CNN)Scientists are proposing an ingenious but as-yet-unproven way to tackle climate change: spraying sun-dimming chemicals into the Earth’s #atmosphere.

    The research by scientists at Harvard and Yale universities, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, proposes using a technique known as stratospheric aerosol injection, which they say could cut the rate of global warming in half.

    The technique would involve spraying large amounts of sulfate particles into the Earth’s lower stratosphere at altitudes as high as 12 miles. The scientists propose delivering the sulfates with specially designed high-altitude aircraft, balloons or large naval-style guns.

    #climat #solutionnisme

  • MIT and Harvard reconsidering Saudi ties after Khashoggi murder | World news | The Guardian

    Last March, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, came to the United States with a mission: to boost his image as a moderniser, liberaliser and reformer at a time when he stood accused of war crimes in Yemen and had recently consolidated power by jailing rivals, critics, rights activists and even family members.
    Saudi Arabia says it is a beacon of light fighting ‘dark’ Iran
    Read more

    Over the course of his three-week trip he appeared alongside American giants of government, business and entertainment, inking lucrative business deals while letting the celebrity and reputation of people such as Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Dwayne Johnson rub off on him.

    #mit #boston #arabie_saoudite

  • Event Review: Youth Movements and Political Participation in Saudi Arabia - Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy

    As home to one of the world’s youngest populations, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has in recent years seen a remarkable surge in youth movements that are especially visible online. At an October 26th discussion at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Dr. Kristin Smith Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, argued that this uptick in online political engagement does not necessarily translate to increased political participation.

    To demonstrate the significance of recent political and social shifts within the Kingdom, Diwan provided an overview of Saudi Arabia as it has functioned since its founding in 1932. She emphasized the Kingdom’s dynastic monarchal system, wherein power is largely decentralized and shared among the royal family. Local and global forces are converging to reveal cracks in a few key areas: the Kingdom’s diffuse power structure has hindered decision-making, unstable oil supplies have fostered economic anxiety, and demographic changes have forced a reevaluation of conservative religious movements within the Kingdom. Additionally, as the royal family grows older, King Salman has made a number of moves toward empowering a new generation of leaders by elevating his son, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), to the position of Crown Prince. It is this generational shift in the Kingdom’s leadership that Diwan underlined  as she set out to demonstrate that the Kingdom’s shifting power structure, along with its emerging youth movements, are creating a new political environment.

    While the average Saudi king comes into power around age sixty-four, seventy percent of the Kingdom’s population is less than thirty years old. This stark generational divide, coupled with ready access to new technologies and social media platforms, has led to a surge in virtual social movements among Saudi Arabia’s youth. Online communities and artistic collectives have become especially important in Saudi Arabia because they are less bound by the strict standards of behavior that regulate physical public spaces.. Outlets like Twitter and YouTube are essential platforms for youth movements, and Diwan pointed to satirical comedy as a noteworthy medium for political criticism. MBS and his new government have made concerted efforts to capture the energy of these youth movements, enlisting popular comedians and artists to participate in his transition team and engage in cultural diplomacy around the world.

  • Permet de visualiser la distribution géographique de nombreuses variables sociales (revenu, diplôme, chômage, mariage, densité...) et de les croiser entre elles.

    The Opportunity Atlas

    Which neighborhoods in America offer children the best chance to rise out of poverty?

    The Opportunity Atlas answers this question using anonymous data following 20 million Americans from childhood to their mid-30s.

    Now you can trace the roots of today’s affluence and poverty back to the neighborhoods where people grew up.

    See where and for whom opportunity has been missing, and develop local solutions to help more children rise out of poverty.

    The Opportunity Atlas is an initial release of social mobility data, the result of a collaboration between researchers at the Census Bureau, Harvard University, and Brown University. While the estimates in the Opportunity Atlas are not provisional, we are still testing aspects of the research product, including integration, planned annual data refreshes, and variable additions.

  • What Is #Harvard Trying to Hide? - POLITICO Magazine

    For years, reporters have been trying to get elite universities to be more transparent about their admissions process. It might take a court to pry it all open — with unforeseen consequences.

    Winning the chance to attend an Ivy League school is an increasingly daunting feat. If schools aren’t just going to auction spots to the highest bidder, these colleges (which receive millions in federal funding and a slew of tax benefits) have a moral responsibility to defend their admission policies.

  • Responding to leads : Are you moving fast enough

    Responding to leads: Are you moving fast enough?Image by Rawpixel.comA new lead comes in — the clock’s ticking. How much time do you have to respond before your lead falls off the radar?Everyone seems to know that, when there’s an opportunity to close a sale, time is of the essence. Yet, research statistics out of Harvard Business Review show that most companies are slow to respond to leads, meaning they aren’t handling online queries effectively.Looking at over two thousand U.S. companies to gauge how long they took to respond to a web-generated test lead, the results found that 24% took more than 24 hours — and 23% of the companies never responded at all.What’s even more interesting, is the stat that reflects just how important timely responses can be. The research suggests that companies that (...)

    #lead-generation #sales #startup #marketing #responding-to-leads

  • Harvard Calls for Retraction of Dozens of Studies by Noted Cardiologist - The New York Times

    A prominent cardiologist formerly at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston fabricated or falsified data in 31 published studies that should be retracted, officials at the institutions have concluded.

    The cardiologist, Dr. Piero Anversa, produced research suggesting that damaged heart muscle could be regenerated with stem cells, a type of cell that can transform itself into a variety of other cells.

    Although other laboratories could not reproduce his findings, the work led to the formation of start-up companies to develop new treatments for heart attacks and stroke, and inspired a clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health.

    “A couple of papers may be alarming, but 31 additional papers in question is almost unheard-of,” said Benoit Bruneau, associate director of cardiovascular research at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco. “It is a lab’s almost entire body of work, and therefore almost an entire field of research, put into question.”

    #Fraude_scientifique #Conflits_intérêt #Science

  • IMF’s New Chief Economist Is a Great Choice

    New thinking at the IMF.
    Photographer: Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

    Having followed Gita Gopinath’s work closely for several years, I am delighted the International Monetary Fund appointed her to head its influential research department as chief economist.

    Gopinath, a professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University and co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, brings expertise, insights and cognitive diversity to the IMF. Her appointment comes at an important time, as the fund seeks to evolve its thinking and practices to better reflect realities on the ground, particularly the two-way causal relationship between macroeconomic and financial issues.

  • Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy? | The New Yorker

    Since 2011, Zuckerberg has lived in a century-old white clapboard Craftsman in the Crescent Park neighborhood, an enclave of giant oaks and historic homes not far from Stanford University. The house, which cost seven million dollars, affords him a sense of sanctuary. It’s set back from the road, shielded by hedges, a wall, and mature trees. Guests enter through an arched wooden gate and follow a long gravel path to a front lawn with a saltwater pool in the center. The year after Zuckerberg bought the house, he and his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, held their wedding in the back yard, which encompasses gardens, a pond, and a shaded pavilion. Since then, they have had two children, and acquired a seven-hundred-acre estate in Hawaii, a ski retreat in Montana, and a four-story town house on Liberty Hill, in San Francisco. But the family’s full-time residence is here, a ten-minute drive from Facebook’s headquarters.

    Occasionally, Zuckerberg records a Facebook video from the back yard or the dinner table, as is expected of a man who built his fortune exhorting employees to keep “pushing the world in the direction of making it a more open and transparent place.” But his appetite for personal openness is limited. Although Zuckerberg is the most famous entrepreneur of his generation, he remains elusive to everyone but a small circle of family and friends, and his efforts to protect his privacy inevitably attract attention. The local press has chronicled his feud with a developer who announced plans to build a mansion that would look into Zuckerberg’s master bedroom. After a legal fight, the developer gave up, and Zuckerberg spent forty-four million dollars to buy the houses surrounding his. Over the years, he has come to believe that he will always be the subject of criticism. “We’re not—pick your noncontroversial business—selling dog food, although I think that people who do that probably say there is controversy in that, too, but this is an inherently cultural thing,” he told me, of his business. “It’s at the intersection of technology and psychology, and it’s very personal.”

    At the same time, former Facebook executives, echoing a growing body of research, began to voice misgivings about the company’s role in exacerbating isolation, outrage, and addictive behaviors. One of the largest studies, published last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology, followed the Facebook use of more than five thousand people over three years and found that higher use correlated with self-reported declines in physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction. At an event in November, 2017, Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, called himself a “conscientious objector” to social media, saying, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” A few days later, Chamath Palihapitiya, the former vice-president of user growth, told an audience at Stanford, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works—no civil discourse, no coöperation, misinformation, mistruth.” Palihapitiya, a prominent Silicon Valley figure who worked at Facebook from 2007 to 2011, said, “I feel tremendous guilt. I think we all knew in the back of our minds.” Of his children, he added, “They’re not allowed to use this shit.” (Facebook replied to the remarks in a statement, noting that Palihapitiya had left six years earlier, and adding, “Facebook was a very different company back then.”)

    In March, Facebook was confronted with an even larger scandal: the Times and the British newspaper the Observer reported that a researcher had gained access to the personal information of Facebook users and sold it to Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy hired by Trump and other Republicans which advertised using “psychographic” techniques to manipulate voter behavior. In all, the personal data of eighty-seven million people had been harvested. Moreover, Facebook had known of the problem since December of 2015 but had said nothing to users or regulators. The company acknowledged the breach only after the press discovered it.

    We spoke at his home, at his office, and by phone. I also interviewed four dozen people inside and outside the company about its culture, his performance, and his decision-making. I found Zuckerberg straining, not always coherently, to grasp problems for which he was plainly unprepared. These are not technical puzzles to be cracked in the middle of the night but some of the subtlest aspects of human affairs, including the meaning of truth, the limits of free speech, and the origins of violence.

    Zuckerberg is now at the center of a full-fledged debate about the moral character of Silicon Valley and the conscience of its leaders. Leslie Berlin, a historian of technology at Stanford, told me, “For a long time, Silicon Valley enjoyed an unencumbered embrace in America. And now everyone says, Is this a trick? And the question Mark Zuckerberg is dealing with is: Should my company be the arbiter of truth and decency for two billion people? Nobody in the history of technology has dealt with that.”

    In 2002, Zuckerberg went to Harvard, where he embraced the hacker mystique, which celebrates brilliance in pursuit of disruption. “The ‘fuck you’ to those in power was very strong,” the longtime friend said. In 2004, as a sophomore, he embarked on the project whose origin story is now well known: the founding of with four fellow-students (“the” was dropped the following year); the legal battles over ownership, including a suit filed by twin brothers, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, accusing Zuckerberg of stealing their idea; the disclosure of embarrassing messages in which Zuckerberg mocked users for giving him so much data (“they ‘trust me.’ dumb fucks,” he wrote); his regrets about those remarks, and his efforts, in the years afterward, to convince the world that he has left that mind-set behind.

    New hires learned that a crucial measure of the company’s performance was how many people had logged in to Facebook on six of the previous seven days, a measurement known as L6/7. “You could say it’s how many people love this service so much they use it six out of seven days,” Parakilas, who left the company in 2012, said. “But, if your job is to get that number up, at some point you run out of good, purely positive ways. You start thinking about ‘Well, what are the dark patterns that I can use to get people to log back in?’ ”

    Facebook engineers became a new breed of behaviorists, tweaking levers of vanity and passion and susceptibility. The real-world effects were striking. In 2012, when Chan was in medical school, she and Zuckerberg discussed a critical shortage of organs for transplant, inspiring Zuckerberg to add a small, powerful nudge on Facebook: if people indicated that they were organ donors, it triggered a notification to friends, and, in turn, a cascade of social pressure. Researchers later found that, on the first day the feature appeared, it increased official organ-donor enrollment more than twentyfold nationwide.

    Sean Parker later described the company’s expertise as “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” The goal: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” Facebook engineers discovered that people find it nearly impossible not to log in after receiving an e-mail saying that someone has uploaded a picture of them. Facebook also discovered its power to affect people’s political behavior. Researchers found that, during the 2010 midterm elections, Facebook was able to prod users to vote simply by feeding them pictures of friends who had already voted, and by giving them the option to click on an “I Voted” button. The technique boosted turnout by three hundred and forty thousand people—more than four times the number of votes separating Trump and Clinton in key states in the 2016 race. It became a running joke among employees that Facebook could tilt an election just by choosing where to deploy its “I Voted” button.

    These powers of social engineering could be put to dubious purposes. In 2012, Facebook data scientists used nearly seven hundred thousand people as guinea pigs, feeding them happy or sad posts to test whether emotion is contagious on social media. (They concluded that it is.) When the findings were published, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they caused an uproar among users, many of whom were horrified that their emotions may have been surreptitiously manipulated. In an apology, one of the scientists wrote, “In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety.”

    Facebook was, in the words of Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, becoming a pioneer in “ persuasive technology.

    Facebook had adopted a buccaneering motto, “Move fast and break things,” which celebrated the idea that it was better to be flawed and first than careful and perfect. Andrew Bosworth, a former Harvard teaching assistant who is now one of Zuckerberg’s longest-serving lieutenants and a member of his inner circle, explained, “A failure can be a form of success. It’s not the form you want, but it can be a useful thing to how you learn.” In Zuckerberg’s view, skeptics were often just fogies and scolds. “There’s always someone who wants to slow you down,” he said in a commencement address at Harvard last year. “In our society, we often don’t do big things because we’re so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can’t keep us from starting.”

    In contrast to a traditional foundation, an L.L.C. can lobby and give money to politicians, without as strict a legal requirement to disclose activities. In other words, rather than trying to win over politicians and citizens in places like Newark, Zuckerberg and Chan could help elect politicians who agree with them, and rally the public directly by running ads and supporting advocacy groups. (A spokesperson for C.Z.I. said that it has given no money to candidates; it has supported ballot initiatives through a 501(c)(4) social-welfare organization.) “The whole point of the L.L.C. structure is to allow a coördinated attack,” Rob Reich, a co-director of Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, told me. The structure has gained popularity in Silicon Valley but has been criticized for allowing wealthy individuals to orchestrate large-scale social agendas behind closed doors. Reich said, “There should be much greater transparency, so that it’s not dark. That’s not a criticism of Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a criticism of the law.”

    La question des langues est fondamentale quand il s’agit de réseaux sociaux

    Beginning in 2013, a series of experts on Myanmar met with Facebook officials to warn them that it was fuelling attacks on the Rohingya. David Madden, an entrepreneur based in Myanmar, delivered a presentation to officials at the Menlo Park headquarters, pointing out that the company was playing a role akin to that of the radio broadcasts that spread hatred during the Rwandan genocide. In 2016, C4ADS, a Washington-based nonprofit, published a detailed analysis of Facebook usage in Myanmar, and described a “campaign of hate speech that actively dehumanizes Muslims.” Facebook officials said that they were hiring more Burmese-language reviewers to take down dangerous content, but the company repeatedly declined to say how many had actually been hired. By last March, the situation had become dire: almost a million Rohingya had fled the country, and more than a hundred thousand were confined to internal camps. The United Nations investigator in charge of examining the crisis, which the U.N. has deemed a genocide, said, “I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it was originally intended.” Afterward, when pressed, Zuckerberg repeated the claim that Facebook was “hiring dozens” of additional Burmese-language content reviewers.

    More than three months later, I asked Jes Kaliebe Petersen, the C.E.O. of Phandeeyar, a tech hub in Myanmar, if there had been any progress. “We haven’t seen any tangible change from Facebook,” he told me. “We don’t know how much content is being reported. We don’t know how many people at Facebook speak Burmese. The situation is getting worse and worse here.”

    I saw Zuckerberg the following morning, and asked him what was taking so long. He replied, “I think, fundamentally, we’ve been slow at the same thing in a number of areas, because it’s actually the same problem. But, yeah, I think the situation in Myanmar is terrible.” It was a frustrating and evasive reply. I asked him to specify the problem. He said, “Across the board, the solution to this is we need to move from what is fundamentally a reactive model to a model where we are using technical systems to flag things to a much larger number of people who speak all the native languages around the world and who can just capture much more of the content.”

    Lecture des journaux ou des aggrégateurs ?

    once asked Zuckerberg what he reads to get the news. “I probably mostly read aggregators,” he said. “I definitely follow Techmeme”—a roundup of headlines about his industry—“and the media and political equivalents of that, just for awareness.” He went on, “There’s really no newspaper that I pick up and read front to back. Well, that might be true of most people these days—most people don’t read the physical paper—but there aren’t many news Web sites where I go to browse.”

    A couple of days later, he called me and asked to revisit the subject. “I felt like my answers were kind of vague, because I didn’t necessarily feel like it was appropriate for me to get into which specific organizations or reporters I read and follow,” he said. “I guess what I tried to convey, although I’m not sure if this came across clearly, is that the job of uncovering new facts and doing it in a trusted way is just an absolutely critical function for society.”

    Zuckerberg and Sandberg have attributed their mistakes to excessive optimism, a blindness to the darker applications of their service. But that explanation ignores their fixation on growth, and their unwillingness to heed warnings. Zuckerberg resisted calls to reorganize the company around a new understanding of privacy, or to reconsider the depth of data it collects for advertisers.


    In barely two years, the mood in Washington had shifted. Internet companies and entrepreneurs, formerly valorized as the vanguard of American ingenuity and the astronauts of our time, were being compared to Standard Oil and other monopolists of the Gilded Age. This spring, the Wall Street Journal published an article that began, “Imagine a not-too-distant future in which trustbusters force Facebook to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp.” It was accompanied by a sepia-toned illustration in which portraits of Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and other tech C.E.O.s had been grafted onto overstuffed torsos meant to evoke the robber barons. In 1915, Louis Brandeis, the reformer and future Supreme Court Justice, testified before a congressional committee about the dangers of corporations large enough that they could achieve a level of near-sovereignty “so powerful that the ordinary social and industrial forces existing are insufficient to cope with it.” He called this the “curse of bigness.” Tim Wu, a Columbia law-school professor and the author of a forthcoming book inspired by Brandeis’s phrase, told me, “Today, no sector exemplifies more clearly the threat of bigness to democracy than Big Tech.” He added, “When a concentrated private power has such control over what we see and hear, it has a power that rivals or exceeds that of elected government.”

    When I asked Zuckerberg whether policymakers might try to break up Facebook, he replied, adamantly, that such a move would be a mistake. The field is “extremely competitive,” he told me. “I think sometimes people get into this mode of ‘Well, there’s not, like, an exact replacement for Facebook.’ Well, actually, that makes it more competitive, because what we really are is a system of different things: we compete with Twitter as a broadcast medium; we compete with Snapchat as a broadcast medium; we do messaging, and iMessage is default-installed on every iPhone.” He acknowledged the deeper concern. “There’s this other question, which is just, laws aside, how do we feel about these tech companies being big?” he said. But he argued that efforts to “curtail” the growth of Facebook or other Silicon Valley heavyweights would cede the field to China. “I think that anything that we’re doing to constrain them will, first, have an impact on how successful we can be in other places,” he said. “I wouldn’t worry in the near term about Chinese companies or anyone else winning in the U.S., for the most part. But there are all these places where there are day-to-day more competitive situations—in Southeast Asia, across Europe, Latin America, lots of different places.”

    The rough consensus in Washington is that regulators are unlikely to try to break up Facebook. The F.T.C. will almost certainly fine the company for violations, and may consider blocking it from buying big potential competitors, but, as a former F.T.C. commissioner told me, “in the United States you’re allowed to have a monopoly position, as long as you achieve it and maintain it without doing illegal things.”

    Facebook is encountering tougher treatment in Europe, where antitrust laws are stronger and the history of fascism makes people especially wary of intrusions on privacy. One of the most formidable critics of Silicon Valley is the European Union’s top antitrust regulator, Margrethe Vestager.

    In Vestager’s view, a healthy market should produce competitors to Facebook that position themselves as ethical alternatives, collecting less data and seeking a smaller share of user attention. “We need social media that will allow us to have a nonaddictive, advertising-free space,” she said. “You’re more than welcome to be successful and to dramatically outgrow your competitors if customers like your product. But, if you grow to be dominant, you have a special responsibility not to misuse your dominant position to make it very difficult for others to compete against you and to attract potential customers. Of course, we keep an eye on it. If we get worried, we will start looking.”


    As hard as it is to curb election propaganda, Zuckerberg’s most intractable problem may lie elsewhere—in the struggle over which opinions can appear on Facebook, which cannot, and who gets to decide. As an engineer, Zuckerberg never wanted to wade into the realm of content. Initially, Facebook tried blocking certain kinds of material, such as posts featuring nudity, but it was forced to create long lists of exceptions, including images of breast-feeding, “acts of protest,” and works of art. Once Facebook became a venue for political debate, the problem exploded. In April, in a call with investment analysts, Zuckerberg said glumly that it was proving “easier to build an A.I. system to detect a nipple than what is hate speech.”

    The cult of growth leads to the curse of bigness: every day, a billion things were being posted to Facebook. At any given moment, a Facebook “content moderator” was deciding whether a post in, say, Sri Lanka met the standard of hate speech or whether a dispute over Korean politics had crossed the line into bullying. Zuckerberg sought to avoid banning users, preferring to be a “platform for all ideas.” But he needed to prevent Facebook from becoming a swamp of hoaxes and abuse. His solution was to ban “hate speech” and impose lesser punishments for “misinformation,” a broad category that ranged from crude deceptions to simple mistakes. Facebook tried to develop rules about how the punishments would be applied, but each idiosyncratic scenario prompted more rules, and over time they became byzantine. According to Facebook training slides published by the Guardian last year, moderators were told that it was permissible to say “You are such a Jew” but not permissible to say “Irish are the best, but really French sucks,” because the latter was defining another people as “inferiors.” Users could not write “Migrants are scum,” because it is dehumanizing, but they could write “Keep the horny migrant teen-agers away from our daughters.” The distinctions were explained to trainees in arcane formulas such as “Not Protected + Quasi protected = not protected.”

    It will hardly be the last quandary of this sort. Facebook’s free-speech dilemmas have no simple answers—you don’t have to be a fan of Alex Jones to be unnerved by the company’s extraordinary power to silence a voice when it chooses, or, for that matter, to amplify others, to pull the levers of what we see, hear, and experience. Zuckerberg is hoping to erect a scalable system, an orderly decision tree that accounts for every eventuality and exception, but the boundaries of speech are a bedevilling problem that defies mechanistic fixes. The Supreme Court, defining obscenity, landed on “I know it when I see it.” For now, Facebook is making do with a Rube Goldberg machine of policies and improvisations, and opportunists are relishing it. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, seized on the ban of Jones as a fascist assault on conservatives. In a moment that was rich even by Cruz’s standards, he quoted Martin Niemöller’s famous lines about the Holocaust, saying, “As the poem goes, you know, ‘First they came for Alex Jones.’ ”

    #Facebook #Histoire_numérique

  • For safety’s sake, we must slow #innovation in internet-connected things - MIT Technology Review

    In a new book called de “Click Here to Kill Everybody”, Bruce Schneier argues that governments must step in now to force companies developing connected gadgets to make security a priority rather than an afterthought. The author of an influential security newsletter and blog, Schneier is a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Among other roles, he’s also on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is chief technology officer of IBM Resilient, which helps companies prepare to deal with potential cyberthreats.

    Schneier spoke with MIT Technology Review about the risks we’re running in an ever more connected world and the policies he thinks are urgently needed to address them.

    #internet_des_objets #sécurité

  • Radiant city | Thinkpiece | Architectural Review

    20th century Modernist masterplanning in South America stands charged as a catalyst for sprawling urban violence

    During this year’s Open House at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), one lecture stood out for its bold proposition that Modernist urban planning is responsible for the chronic urban violence in Latin America. As well as approaching a somewhat unpalatable subject, the lecture by Diane Davis, who starts her tenure as Professor of Urbanism and Development this year, also marks a shift in direction for the school itself (which has become increasingly interdisciplinary under Department Head, Rahul Mehrotra).

    #urban_matter #révolte #amérique_du_sud #colonisation_of_urban_space

  • Facebook is rating the trustworthiness of its users on a scale from zero to 1

    Facebook has begun to assign its users a reputation score, predicting their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to 1. The previously unreported ratings system, which Facebook has developed over the past year, shows that the fight against the gaming of tech systems has evolved to include measuring the credibility of users to help identify malicious actors. Facebook developed its reputation assessments as part of its effort against fake news, Tessa Lyons, the product manager who is in (...)

    #Facebook #manipulation #web #surveillance

    • Pas de patrons, pas de managers : la vérité derrière la façade de la « hiérarchie horizontale » The Guardian, André Spicer, 30-07-2018 - Traduit par les lecteurs du site

      Imaginez-vous travaillant pour une entreprise sans patron. Le premier jour, on vous remet un manuel à l’attention des nouveaux arrivants. Vous pouvez y lire que cela sera « la plus formidable expérience professionnelle de votre vie ». « Nous n’avons pas de hiérarchie et personne ne rend compte à personne ». Vous pouvez décider sur quels projets vous travaillez. Si vous détestez votre voisin, vous pouvez simplement aller plus loin – il y a des roues sous votre bureau pour vous y aider. L’entreprise affiche quelques curiosités intéressantes comme un salon de massage, la présence d’un économiste des plus radicaux et des voyages où tous les employés partent en vacances ensemble.

      « Les secteurs qui ont le moins de règles et de règlements officiels sont souvent le théâtre de harcèlement sexuel. »

      Ce n’est pas du fantasme. Cela se passe dans une société de développement de jeux vidéo appelée Valve. Basée dans une banlieue de Seattle, Valve a produit des jeux bien connus tels que Half-Life, ainsi qu’une plateforme de distribution numérique au succès colossal appelée Steam. Elle a récemment commencé à développer du matériel pour les développeurs de jeux vidéo.

      « Nombre de jeunes employés de l’industrie des hautes technologies pensent qu’il n’y a pas de hiérarchie, que leur patron est leur pote et que le travail est un plaisir. C’est de la fiction ». Photographie : Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

      En 2012, le manuel d’accueil des nouveaux employés de Valve fuite. Des articles flagorneurs sur cette entreprise unique et étonnante paraissent partout, de la BBC à la Harvard Business Review. L’économiste « maison » de Valve – Yanis Varoufakis, l’ancien ministre grec des finances – est apparu dans un podcast décrivant un système unique de gratification des employés de l’entreprise.

      Depuis, l’aura chatoyante de la culture « sans patron » de Valve a commencé à pâlir. En 2013, une ex-employée a décrit l’entreprise comme ayant une « structure pseudo-horizontale ». « Il y a en fait dans l’entreprise une strate invisible constituée d’une puissante hiérarchie », disait-elle, ce qui « ressemble beaucoup au lycée ».

      Aujourd’hui, cinq ans plus tard, un autre ex-employé a partagé sur Twitter ses réflexions sur une entreprise, sans la nommer, qui ressemble beaucoup à Valve. Rich Geldreich a présenté comment l’entreprise embauchait des employés, leur faisait de formidables promesses, puis les congédiait dès qu’ils n’étaient plus utiles. Il a décrit l’entreprise comme étant dirigée par des « barons » – et conseille aux nouveaux employés de s’acoquiner/faire allégeance à un de ces barons afin « d’augmenter rapidement votre niveau d’immunité vis-à-vis des purges avant le cycle de licenciement suivant ».

      La description de Geldreich concorde avec certaines critiques de Valve sur le site web Glassdoor, sur lequel les employés évaluent anonymement leurs employeurs (ceci dit, beaucoup de salariés aiment cette culture de Valve). On y décrit la culture sans patron comme « seulement une façade » : « Pour réussir chez Valve, vous devez appartenir au groupe qui a le plus de pouvoir de décision et, même lorsque vous y réussissez un temps, soyez certain que vous avez une date de péremption. Peu importe à quel point vous travaillez dur, peu importe à quel point vous êtes original et productif, si vos patrons et les gens qui comptent ne vous aiment pas, vous serez bientôt viré ou poussé à partir ».

      Geldreich décrit une culture de travail néo-féodale où de puissants barons exercent impitoyablement leurs caprices sur des favoris éphémères avant de s’en détourner à l’occasion de la prochaine phase de « réduction des effectifs ».

      Cette incertitude endémique n’est pas propre à l’industrie du jeu vidéo. Jeffrey Pfeffer, de l’Université Stanford, souligne que de nombreux jeunes employés du secteur des hautes technologies pensent qu’il n’y a pas de hiérarchie, que leur patron est leur pote et que le travail est un plaisir. C’est de la fiction, dit Pfeffer. L’absence de règles formelles et de hiérarchie masque une structure de pouvoir informelle vicieuse. Mais contrairement aux bonnes vieilles hiérarchies, il y a peu de mécanismes de contrôle et de contre-pouvoirs dans les entreprises « horizontales ». Les « barons » influents peuvent satisfaire leurs caprices quasiment sans limites.

      Les industries qui ont le moins de règles et de règlements officiels sont souvent le lieu de harcèlement sexuel. Dans un livre à paraître, Peter Fleming, professeur dans une école de commerce, souligne que la vague de scandales déclenchée par les révélations sur la prédation présumée d’Harvey Weinstein est en grande partie liée aux structures organisationnelles très souples qui régissent le fonctionnement d’Hollywood.

      Tout comme les entreprises privées, le secteur public, célèbre pour sa bureaucratie, verse dans « l’horizontalité ». En lieu et place des règles, de la réglementation et des preuves, de nombreux organismes publics ont commencé à rechercher la « passion », « l’enthousiasme » et la « flexibilité ». Cela peut sembler génial, mais l’universitaire et auteur Paul du Gay prévient que cela peut mener à des résultats dangereux, voire désastreux. Par exemple, les mésaventures militaires du début du XXIe siècle ont souvent été dues à la passion et à l’enthousiasme des élus, prenant le pas sur les règles formelles et l’expertise offerte par les fonctionnaires et le personnel militaire.

      L’élimination des hiérarchies formelles s’est également révélée dangereuse dans les mouvements sociaux. Après avoir passé des années dans le mouvement de libération des femmes des années 1960, la politologue américaine Jo Freeman a mis en garde contre la « tyrannie de l’absence de structure ». Bien que les structures égalitaires et démocratiques présentent de nombreux avantages, a-t-elle souligné, l’absence de structure « devient vite un écran de fumée pour les forts ou les chanceux, qui établissent sans conteste une hégémonie sur les autres ». En mettant en place des règles et des structures, vous rendez clair et transparent le fonctionnement du groupe ou de l’organisation. La leçon que Freeman a apprise au début des années 1970 a été oubliée à maintes reprises.

      Les illusions d’absence de règles, de patrons et de hiérarchies sont séduisantes. Les hiérarchies peuvent être répressives, les règles peuvent être absurdes et les patrons peuvent être toxiques. Mais leur absence peut être pire.

      André Spicer, professeur à la Cass Business School de Londres, est l’auteur de Business Bullshit
      Source : The Guardian, André Spicer, 30-07-2018
      Traduit par les lecteurs du site Traduction librement reproductible en intégralité, en citant la source.

  • La sénatrice sacrilège

    La sénatrice sacrilège

    18 août 2018 – Dans ce texte, je fais référence aux deux autres textes du même jour, pour établir un lien entre eux deux et constituer ainsi un triangle parfait, complètement isocèle, qui figurera la vérité-de-situation de la Grande Crise d’Effondrement du Système (GCES). Le premierde ces deux textes concerne la sénatrice Warren et sa proposition de loi de “responsabilisation du capitalisme” ; le second est le T.C.-56 sur la “démence cosmique”.

    Nous partons sur la sénatrice du Massachusetts...

    Elizabeth Warren est une brillante universitaire, venue de Harvard, qui occupa des postes officiels, notamment pour enquêter sur les conditions du sauvetage de Wall Street après l’effondrement 9/15 de 2008, avant d’être élue sénatrice en 2012 (et vice-présidente de la minorité démocrate au (...)

  • Biblical Scholars Find Evidence Church Covered Up For 3 Wise Men Who Molested Baby Jesus

    CAMBRIDGE, MA—Shedding further light on a long history of attempts to protect itself from accusations of criminal activity, biblical scholars at Harvard Divinity School reported Wednesday they have found evidence that the early Catholic church covered up for three wise men who molested baby Jesus. “After deciphering fragments of a previously unknown gospel, we now have textual documentation that clearly delineates abuse by three magi who arrived in Bethlehem and inappropriately touched the newborn Christ Child as He lay in the manger,” said Professor Raymond White, recounting the extensive efforts made by the church to scrub the story from early versions of the Bible and to discredit Jesus’ account of the event in His later sermons. “As described in newly discovered scraps of papyrus dating back nearly 2,000 years, these three magi were powerful men of great influence. Whatever moments of weakness or temptation they may have exhibited on that first Christmas morning, the early church must have seen fit to protect their reputations against any accusation from the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, who were, after all, very poor.” White went on to note that additional passages from the text explain how the three wise men were quietly relocated and allowed to continue their work in a remote village in Persia.

  • The problem isn’t just Cambridge Analytica or Facebook – it’s “surveillance capitalism”

    ‘Surveillance capitalism’ was the term coined in 2015 by Harvard academic Shoshanna Zuboff to describe this large-scale surveillance and modification of human behaviour for profit. It involves predictive analysis of big datasets describing the lives and behaviours of tens or hundreds of millions of people, allowing correlations and patterns to be identified, information about individuals inferred, and future behaviour to be predicted. Attempts are then made to influence this behaviour through personalised and dynamic targeted advertising. This is refined by testing numerous variations of adverts on different demographics to see what works best. Every time you use the internet you are likely the unwitting subject of dozens of experiments trying to figure out how to most effectively extract money from you.

    Surveillance capitalism monetises our lives for their profit, turning everything that we do into data points to be packaged together as a profile describing us in great detail. Access to that data profile is sold on the advertising market. But it isn’t just access to our data profile that is being sold – it’s access to the powerful behavioural modification tools developed by these corporations, to their knowledge about our psychological vulnerabilities, honed through experimentation over many years. In effect, through their pervasive surveillance apparatus they build up intricate knowledge of the daily lives and behaviours of hundreds of millions of people and then charge other companies to use this knowledge against us for their benefit.

  • En cas d’infarctus, une femme survit davantage avec un médecin femme

    En cas d’infarctus, une femme augmente de manière significative ses chances de survie si son médecin-urgentiste est une femme. C’est le résultat d’une étude américaine publiée ce lundi dans la revue Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Pourquoi ? Car les symptômes des femmes diffèrent de ceux des hommes et que les médecins masculins auraient donc des difficultés à traiter des patientes.

    Les chercheurs de l’université de Harvard se sont appuyés sur plus de 500.000 cas de personnes admises en urgence à l’hôpital pour un infarctus du myocarde aigu en Floride, entre 1991 et 2010.


  • Le concept de « #race » peut-il s’appliquer à l’espèce humaine ?

    La commission des lois de l’Assemblée nationale souhaite supprimer le mot « race » de la Constitution de 1958. Et pour cause : le terme n’a aucune légitimité scientifique. Mais certains appellent à la vigilance, pensant que le concept est à sauvegarder pour lutter contre le racisme même.
    Représentation des différentes « races humaines » (blanche, jaune, noire et rouge)
    Représentation des différentes « races humaines » (blanche, jaune, noire et rouge)• Crédits : AFP

    « La France [...] assure l’égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d’origine, de race ou de religion. » La Constitution de 1958 sera bientôt modifiée : la commission des lois de l’Assemblée nationale a en effet adopté un amendement pour que soit supprimé le mot « race » de cet article premier. En effet, ce terme n’a aucune légitimité scientifique ; notons à ce sujet que récemment, les travaux de David Reich, un spécialiste de l’ADN de l’université d’Harvard, ont créé la polémique sans remettre en question le consensus scientifique. Mais certains estiment quand même qu’il est important de conserver le concept, qui permet de refuser toute discrimination sans ambiguïté : c’est par exemple ce que défendait Ferdinand Mélin-Soucramanien, professeur de droit public à l’université de Bordeaux dans Libération, le 10 juillet 2018 :

    S’il paraît pertinent de supprimer le mot « race » de la Constitution de la Ve République, à la fois pour des raisons symboliques et juridiques, sans doute serait-il plus prudent de ne pas laisser béant l’espace ainsi créé. En effet, si la « race » n’existe pas comme catégorie prétendument objective, chacun sait que le racisme en tant que sentiment subjectif lui existe bel et bien...

    Réflexions, ici, sur la polysémie du terme, que nous mettons à l’épreuve des sciences dures (à laquelle il ne résiste pas), et à celle des sciences humaines.


  • «  Race  » : la génétique face à ses démons

    L’étude des génomes pourrait-elle réveiller la notion de «  race  », en passe d’être gommée de la Constitution  ? David Reich, spécialiste de l’ADN ancien, pose la question. Et créé une polémique.

    «  Trasi Henen  ». Photos extraites de la série «  There’s a Place in Hell for Me & My Friends  » (Oodee, 2012). Le photographe sud-africain Pieter Hugo a manipulé les couleurs pour faire ressortir la mélanine et mettre en évidence les contradictions des distinctions raciales fondées sur la couleur de la peau.

    La biologie peut-elle délimiter des groupes humains qui fonderaient l’existence de races à l’intérieur de l’espèce humaine ? Depuis les années 1970, les généticiens avaient tranché : la race est une construction sociale dont il n’existe aucun fondement en biologie. Ils se délestaient ainsi de cette question brûlante, à l’origine au XIXe siècle de théories dont la description emplit aujourd’hui les pages les plus dérangeantes de l’histoire de leur discipline.

    Mais voilà qu’un éminent généticien de l’université Harvard, David Reich, ravive les cendres qu’on croyait éteintes avec la publication de son livre Who We Are and How We Got Here ? (« Qui sommes-nous et comment sommes-nous arrivés ici ? », ­Pantheon Books, non traduit). Son credo ? Dénoncer l’« orthodoxie » du discours sur la diversité génétique qui s’est imposé au cours des dernières décennies et qui a fait de la race une question taboue. « Comment devons-nous nous préparer à la probabilité qu’au cours des années à venir des études génétiques montrent que de nombreuses caractéristiques sont influencées par des variations génétiques et que ces traits diffèrent entre les groupes humains ? », questionnait-il dans une tribune parue en avril dans le New York Times. « Argumenter qu’il n’est pas possible qu’il existe des différences substantielles entre les populations humaines ne fera que favoriser l’instrumentalisation raciste de la génétique que nous voulons justement éviter », concluait-il.

    A l’heure où la France a entrepris de gommer le mot « race » de sa Constitution par un vote des députés, le 27 juin, la polémique lancée par Reich rappelle que la génétique a longtemps flirté avec l’eugénisme, avant de s’en repentir. Et que sa ­prétention à pouvoir tout analyser ou presque peut la conduire à ignorer ses limites – un écueil dénoncé par un grand nombre d’anthropologues en réponse au texte de Reich.

    Comment les généticiens ont-ils effacé la notion de race de leur discipline ? Et pourquoi ressurgit-elle aujourd’hui sous la plume de l’un des leurs – dont les travaux, et c’est là une des subtilités de la polémique, démontrent par ailleurs que les populations humaines sont faites de métissages ?

    Il faut remonter, pour le comprendre, à l’évolution de la place en biologie du concept de race après les ravages de la seconde guerre mondiale. « En réalité, la race est moins un phénomène biologique qu’un mythe social. Ce mythe a fait un mal immense sur le plan social et moral », reconnaissait en 1950 la Déclaration de l’Unesco sur la race. Pourtant, à cette époque, la majorité des généticiens, parmi lesquels Theodosius Dobjansky ou Ronald Fisher, pensaient encore que les races humaines existaient, d’un point de vue biologique. Dès les années 1930, ils avaient entrepris de les redéfinir en s’appuyant sur des caractères qu’ils considéraient plus fiables que les caractères morphologiques, en particulier les groupes sanguins. Ils avaient notamment observé que le groupe O était présent chez 90 % des Amérindiens, et ils croyaient pouvoir décrire des groupes humains homogènes et stables.

    Mais ils s’aperçurent que cette particularité des Amérindiens ne reflétait en rien une pureté de race mais venait de leur histoire, en tant que ­population persécutée et isolée.

    Ni la couleur de peau ni le groupe sanguin ne sont l’expression d’un ensemble de variations communes à un même groupe humain. Les variations entre les êtres humains résultent à la fois de leur adaptation à leur environnement, comme le climat ou l’altitude, et de la diversité des origines géographiques des populations humaines.

    Partant de ce constat, certains généticiens, comme Richard Lewontin aux Etats-Unis ou ­Albert Jacquard en France, déclarèrent que toute tentative de classification des êtres humains en catégories biologiques relevait de choix arbitraires, car, quelles que soient les catégories, elles ne reposent que sur une part infime de l’ensemble des variations. Deux individus pris au hasard à l’intérieur d’un même groupe humain se distinguent par un nombre de variations plus élevé que celui qui distingue deux groupes entre eux. D’où un changement de point de vue que le séquençage du génome humain dans les années 1990 vint conforter. Il révéla de plus que les variations du génome humain ne concernaient qu’une infime partie du génome, de l’ordre de 0,1 %. Dès lors, un discours antiraciste sur la diversité génétique s’imposa dans la discipline, dont David Reich dénonce aujourd’hui l’« orthodoxie ».

    « La “race” est une construction sociale. Nous, les généticiens, n’utilisons quasiment jamais ce terme dans nos articles scientifiques parce qu’il est trop chargé de significations non scientifiques et que sa définition change dans le temps et l’espace », indique David Reich. S’il l’a utilisé, entre guillemets, dans sa tribune, c’était pour alerter sur le fait que le discours scientifique actuel risquait de laisser le champ libre à des sectaires et des faux experts – un champ où ils se sont déjà engouffrés. Trois mois après avoir lancé la polémique, il campe sur ses positions. « Je n’adhère pas à l’idée selon laquelle les différences biologiques moyennes entre deux groupes – par exemple entre des habitants de Taïwan et des habitants de Sardaigne – sont si pe­tites qu’elles peuvent êtres considérées comme ­dépourvues d’un sens biologique et ignorées, ­explique-t-il. C’est depuis un moment le message de nombreux universitaires, qui à mon avis est dangereux car il nuit à la compréhension et la considération de la diversité humaine. »

    « Les découvertes en génétique au cours des dernières décennies ont confirmé que la notion de race n’avait aucun fondement biologique, rétorque la généticienne Evelyne Heyer, du Muséum national d’histoire naturelle. D’une part, il n’existe pas de limites distinctes entre les groupes humains qui permettraient de définir des catégories “étanches”. D’autre part, les critères comme la couleur de peau ne concernent qu’une infime partie du génome. Enfin, les différences ne justifient pas l’existence de hiérarchie entre les êtres humains suivant leurs capacités », dit-elle. L’exposition « Nous et les autres », organisée au Musée de l’homme en 2017 et dont elle fut la commissaire, s’appuyait sur ce discours pour marquer la rupture de la science contemporaine avec les dérives racistes du XIXe siècle et louer l’étude de la diversité biologique. Mais c’est justement par l’étude de cette diversité que ressurgit la question de la race.

    De colossaux programmes de recherche

    Pourquoi ? Le séquençage du génome humain a inauguré de colossaux programmes de recherche axés sur deux champs de recherche, la génétique des populations et la génétique médicale. Dans le premier, contestant le monopole sur ces questions des préhistoriens, des anthropologues et des linguistes, les généticiens tentent de retracer les grands flux migratoires à l’origine du peuplement de la planète, en étudiant les signatures des origines géographiques contenues dans les génomes. Des prouesses techniques et scientifiques qui permettent aujourd’hui de réécrire l’histoire des peuples tels que les Vikings, les Juifs, les Sardes ou les Amérindiens.

    Dans le second, ils recherchent des prédispositions génétiques expliquant la fréquence particulièrement élevée dans certains groupes de population de maladies comme les cancers, le diabète, l’obésité ou la dépression. Les Etats-Unis, le Royaume-Uni, la France, l’Islande ou encore l’Estonie financent des projets nationaux de génomique, avec, en point de mire, l’avènement d’une médecine personnalisée qui ciblerait un profil génétique en fonction du risque de maladie auquel il est associé.

    D’où le paradoxe : comment nier l’existence de catégories entre les êtres humains tout en délimitant pour ces études des groupes de population au sein desquels on étudie des variations génétiques ? En quoi l’existence de ces groupes mouvants questionne-t-elle la notion de race, qui postulait l’existence d’entités stables et étanches que les biologistes d’antan nommaient « catégories » ? Ces arbitrages biologiques n’ont-ils pas des soubassements politiques ?

    « Dès les années 1970, il y a une ambiguïté dans la rupture avec la notion de race dont nous ne sommes pas sortis. Vous pouvez dire que les races sont des catégories arbitraires qui ne valent pas pour une classification. Cela n’empêche pas que la diversité contenue entre deux catégories, si minime soit-elle, peut vous servir à tout un ensemble d’usages », analyse ainsi l’historien Claude-Olivier Doron. Les groupes délimités par les généticiens ont une existence qui résulte aussi d’une histoire sociale et politique. Ils sont le fruit d’une culture à laquelle, qu’ils le veuillent ou non, ils appartiennent aussi. « Les généticiens considèrent que leurs études sur la génétique des populations n’ont rien à voir avec les études anthropologiques sur lesquelles a été fondée la notion de race. Or, si les techniques, les disciplines et les enjeux ont changé, les grandes catégories de population sur lesquelles s’appuient ces études, tels que les Juifs, les Africains ou les Vikings, restent inchangées », dénonce l’historien Amos Morris-Reich, du Bucerius Institute de l’université de Haïfa, en Israël.


    « Le contexte social et politique dans lequel sont menées les études en génomique n’est pas neutre. Etre noir au Etats-Unis n’a pas la même signification qu’au Brésil, et les résultats des analyses génétiques nourrissent des débats locaux et peuvent aussi être récupérés », renchérit l’anthropologue Sarah Abel, de l’université de Reykjavik, l’une des signataires d’une réponse à Reich publiée dans le New York Times.

    « Ce que je partage avec Reich, c’est le fait que laisser les choses non discutées donne la possibilité à un certain nombre de discours racistes de fleurir et de se développer, notamment sur Internet, et il y a besoin d’une pédagogie très précise sur ce que disent et ne disent pas les savoirs génétiques », tempère l’historien Claude-Olivier Doron. « Mais il se montre incapable, dans son article du New York Times, de cerner ces limites. Il confond une multiplicité de choses différentes : groupes fondés sur l’autodéclaration et/ou à partir des catégories du bureau du recensement américain, groupes ad hoc construits par les chercheurs pour des besoins de recherches, catégories anciennes issues des périodes coloniales, etc., sans jamais s’interroger sur les limites, les approximations, les biais de ce que prétend en dire la génétique », regrette-t-il.

    Résultats biaisés

    David Reich s’appuie sur les travaux de son équipe ayant abouti à l’identification, dans les génomes d’hommes afro-américains, de régions les prédisposant au cancer de la prostate. Face à cet argument, les réactions des spécialistes en sciences humaines sont unanimes. « Il faut intégrer la complexité des facteurs dans le risque de survenue des maladies. Dans le cas du cancer de la prostate, cité par David Reich, on s’intéresse de plus en plus aux effets cocktail des composants chimiques de l’environnement et on ne peut pas réduire le risque accru de ce cancer à sa dimension génétique », complète Catherine Bourgain, du Cermes 3, au CNRS, très critique vis-à-vis des modèles statistiques utilisés par David Reich qu’elle juge peu fiables pour l’évaluation de l’influence de facteurs environnementaux qui ­peuvent biaiser leurs résultats.

    Les populations afro-américaines, latinas ou amérindiennes sur lesquelles s’appuient les études en recherche biomédicale aux Etats-Unis sont par ailleurs défavorisées d’un point de vue socio-économique, ce qui les expose à des environnements et à des modes de vie favorisant la survenue des maladies pour lesquelles des prédispositions génétiques sont recherchées : pollution, stress ou encore alcoolisme.

    En 2004, la Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a approuvé le BiDil, un médicament destiné à corriger l’effet d’une mutation prédis­posant les populations afro-américaines à un risque accru d’infarctus du myocarde. « Le problème sur lequel il faut insister sur un cas comme le BiDil, comme sur tout un ensemble de cas, c’est que cela aboutit à l’occultation des autres va­riables, par exemple environnementales, qui peuvent être beaucoup plus importantes », insiste Claude-Olivier Doron.

    Ces études pourraient aussi raviver des stéréotypes ancrés dans l’inconscient collectif. Un programme national mexicain vise ainsi à séquencer le génome de différents types d’Indiens et de métisses afin d’étudier leurs prédispositions ­génétiques au déclenchement précoce du diabète de type 2 et de l’obésité. « La spécificité du débat mexicain, ce sont des mélanges de populations impliquant des Européens, des Afro-Américains et des Asiatiques, mais surtout différents types d’Indiens », explique l’historien Luc Berlivet, lui aussi du Cermes 3. « On voit réapparaître dans le débat des stéréotypes raciaux différents de ceux mobilisés avec les Afro-Américains ou les Amérindiens d’Amérique du Nord. Il ne s’agit plus de distinguer les Blancs des Afro-Américains ou des Latinos, mais différents types d’Indiens. Cela pose les mêmes questions mais de manière décalée », ajoute-t-il.

    Autre source d’inquiétude, une vision réductrice de la notion d’identité produite par les analyses en génétique des origines géographiques. D’autant plus qu’un marché s’est développé, avec des sociétés comme 23andMe, ou MyHeritage, qui proposent à leurs clients la ­détermination de leurs origines géographiques au moyen de l’analyse génétique.

    Diffusés sans précaution, ces résultats peuvent attiser les tensions locales autour des questions identitaires ou révéler les stéréotypes racistes d’une culture, comme ce fut le cas au Brésil, avec les tests ADN sur les origines africaines. Malgré un récit national valorisant le métissage, les ­préjugés racistes sont ancrés dans la culture brésilienne en raison du passé esclavagiste du pays et de la vulgarisation des théories eugénistes valorisant les phénotypes « blancs » au début du XXe siècle. Les universités brésiliennes ont décidé d’instaurer des quotas d’étudiants à la peau noire dans les années 2000. « Dans ce contexte, il s’agissait de savoir comment se définissait la race noire, et les tests génétiques ont été disqualifiés lorsqu’ils ont révélé que le génome d’un célèbre danseur de samba noir contenait plus de 60 % de gènes européens, raconte l’anthropologue Sarah Abel. Ces résultats ont été utilisés pour dire que les quotas n’avaient pas lieu d’être, car la race n’avait pas de sens au Brésil, ou encore que cela ne servait à rien d’avoir 60 % de gènes européens lorsqu’on était arrêté par des policiers d’après la couleur de la peau. »

    En Europe et aux Etats-Unis, certains militants d’extrême droite devenus experts en génétique n’hésitent pas à s’emparer des données et des résultats des études génétiques pour étayer des idéologies fondées sur la pureté des origines et l’existence d’une identité européenne profonde. Les auteurs du site ont ainsi élaboré un argumentaire très étayé visant à refonder la réalité biologique de la race, en s’appuyant notamment sur les travaux de Luca Cavalli-Sforza, pionnier des études génétiques sur les origines géographiques.

    Si l’impact de ces instrumentalisations reste difficile à évaluer, les inquiétudes n’en sont pas moins fondées dans un contexte où les crispations identitaires font le terreau des partis populistes qui menacent les démocraties occidentales. « Il est important de garder à l’esprit l’histoire du racisme scientifique, pour se questionner sur les retombées sociales, politiques, éducatives des études en génomique. Le monde n’est plus le même qu’au temps de l’anthropologie physique, et les relations entre la science et la politique ont également changé. Mais la question de ces re­tombées se pose à tous, que nous soyons jour­nalistes, bioéthiciens, généticiens, historiens ou simples citoyens », conclut Amos Morris-Reich.

  • Opinion | How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’ - The New York Times

    In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu published “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race,” an influential book that argued that race is a social concept with no genetic basis. A classic example often cited is the inconsistent definition of “black.” In the United States, historically, a person is “black” if he has any sub-Saharan African ancestry; in Brazil, a person is not “black” if he is known to have any European ancestry. If “black” refers to different people in different contexts, how can there be any genetic basis to it?

    Beginning in 1972, genetic findings began to be incorporated into this argument. That year, the geneticist Richard Lewontin published an important study of variation in protein types in blood. He grouped the human populations he analyzed into seven “races” — West Eurasians, Africans, East Asians, South Asians, Native Americans, Oceanians and Australians — and found that around 85 percent of variation in the protein types could be accounted for by variation within populations and “races,” and only 15 percent by variation across them. To the extent that there was variation among humans, he concluded, most of it was because of “differences between individuals.”

    In this way, a consensus was established that among human populations there are no differences large enough to support the concept of “biological race.” Instead, it was argued, race is a “social construct,” a way of categorizing people that changes over time and across countries.

    It is true that race is a social construct. It is also true, as Dr. Lewontin wrote, that human populations “are remarkably similar to each other” from a genetic point of view.

    But over the years this consensus has morphed, seemingly without questioning, into an orthodoxy. The orthodoxy maintains that the average genetic differences among people grouped according to today’s racial terms are so trivial when it comes to any meaningful biological traits that those differences can be ignored.

    The orthodoxy goes further, holding that we should be anxious about any research into genetic differences among populations. The concern is that such research, no matter how well-intentioned, is located on a slippery slope that leads to the kinds of pseudoscientific arguments about biological difference that were used in the past to try to justify the slave trade, the eugenics movement and the Nazis’ murder of six million Jews.

    I have deep sympathy for the concern that genetic discoveries could be misused to justify racism. But as a geneticist I also know that it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among “races.”

    Groundbreaking advances in DNA sequencing technology have been made over the last two decades. These advances enable us to measure with exquisite accuracy what fraction of an individual’s genetic ancestry traces back to, say, West Africa 500 years ago — before the mixing in the Americas of the West African and European gene pools that were almost completely isolated for the last 70,000 years. With the help of these tools, we are learning that while race may be a social construct, differences in genetic ancestry that happen to correlate to many of today’s racial constructs are real.

    Recent genetic studies have demonstrated differences across populations not just in the genetic determinants of simple traits such as skin color, but also in more complex traits like bodily dimensions and susceptibility to diseases. For example, we now know that genetic factors help explain why northern Europeans are taller on average than southern Europeans, why multiple sclerosis is more common in European-Americans than in African-Americans, and why the reverse is true for end-stage kidney disease.

    I am worried that well-meaning people who deny the possibility of substantial biological differences among human populations are digging themselves into an indefensible position, one that will not survive the onslaught of science. I am also worried that whatever discoveries are made — and we truly have no idea yet what they will be — will be cited as “scientific proof” that racist prejudices and agendas have been correct all along, and that those well-meaning people will not understand the science well enough to push back against these claims.

    This is why it is important, even urgent, that we develop a candid and scientifically up-to-date way of discussing any such differences, instead of sticking our heads in the sand and being caught unprepared when they are found.

    To get a sense of what modern genetic research into average biological differences across populations looks like, consider an example from my own work. Beginning around 2003, I began exploring whether the population mixture that has occurred in the last few hundred years in the Americas could be leveraged to find risk factors for prostate cancer, a disease that occurs 1.7 times more often in self-identified African-Americans than in self-identified European-Americans. This disparity had not been possible to explain based on dietary and environmental differences, suggesting that genetic factors might play a role.

    Self-identified African-Americans turn out to derive, on average, about 80 percent of their genetic ancestry from enslaved Africans brought to America between the 16th and 19th centuries. My colleagues and I searched, in 1,597 African-American men with prostate cancer, for locations in the genome where the fraction of genes contributed by West African ancestors was larger than it was elsewhere in the genome. In 2006, we found exactly what we were looking for: a location in the genome with about 2.8 percent more African ancestry than the average.

    When we looked in more detail, we found that this region contained at least seven independent risk factors for prostate cancer, all more common in West Africans. Our findings could fully account for the higher rate of prostate cancer in African-Americans than in European-Americans. We could conclude this because African-Americans who happen to have entirely European ancestry in this small section of their genomes had about the same risk for prostate cancer as random Europeans.

    Did this research rely on terms like “African-American” and “European-American” that are socially constructed, and did it label segments of the genome as being probably “West African” or “European” in origin? Yes. Did this research identify real risk factors for disease that differ in frequency across those populations, leading to discoveries with the potential to improve health and save lives? Yes.

    While most people will agree that finding a genetic explanation for an elevated rate of disease is important, they often draw the line there. Finding genetic influences on a propensity for disease is one thing, they argue, but looking for such influences on behavior and cognition is another.

    But whether we like it or not, that line has already been crossed. A recent study led by the economist Daniel Benjamin compiled information on the number of years of education from more than 400,000 people, almost all of whom were of European ancestry. After controlling for differences in socioeconomic background, he and his colleagues identified 74 genetic variations that are over-represented in genes known to be important in neurological development, each of which is incontrovertibly more common in Europeans with more years of education than in Europeans with fewer years of education.

    It is not yet clear how these genetic variations operate. A follow-up study of Icelanders led by the geneticist Augustine Kong showed that these genetic variations also nudge people who carry them to delay having children. So these variations may be explaining longer times at school by affecting a behavior that has nothing to do with intelligence.

    This study has been joined by others finding genetic predictors of behavior. One of these, led by the geneticist Danielle Posthuma, studied more than 70,000 people and found genetic variations in more than 20 genes that were predictive of performance on intelligence tests.

    Is performance on an intelligence test or the number of years of school a person attends shaped by the way a person is brought up? Of course. But does it measure something having to do with some aspect of behavior or cognition? Almost certainly. And since all traits influenced by genetics are expected to differ across populations (because the frequencies of genetic variations are rarely exactly the same across populations), the genetic influences on behavior and cognition will differ across populations, too.

    You will sometimes hear that any biological differences among populations are likely to be small, because humans have diverged too recently from common ancestors for substantial differences to have arisen under the pressure of natural selection. This is not true. The ancestors of East Asians, Europeans, West Africans and Australians were, until recently, almost completely isolated from one another for 40,000 years or longer, which is more than sufficient time for the forces of evolution to work. Indeed, the study led by Dr. Kong showed that in Iceland, there has been measurable genetic selection against the genetic variations that predict more years of education in that population just within the last century.

    To understand why it is so dangerous for geneticists and anthropologists to simply repeat the old consensus about human population differences, consider what kinds of voices are filling the void that our silence is creating. Nicholas Wade, a longtime science journalist for The New York Times, rightly notes in his 2014 book, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History,” that modern research is challenging our thinking about the nature of human population differences. But he goes on to make the unfounded and irresponsible claim that this research is suggesting that genetic factors explain traditional stereotypes.

    One of Mr. Wade’s key sources, for example, is the anthropologist Henry Harpending, who has asserted that people of sub-Saharan African ancestry have no propensity to work when they don’t have to because, he claims, they did not go through the type of natural selection for hard work in the last thousands of years that some Eurasians did. There is simply no scientific evidence to support this statement. Indeed, as 139 geneticists (including myself) pointed out in a letter to The New York Times about Mr. Wade’s book, there is no genetic evidence to back up any of the racist stereotypes he promotes.

    Another high-profile example is James Watson, the scientist who in 1953 co-discovered the structure of DNA, and who was forced to retire as head of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in 2007 after he stated in an interview — without any scientific evidence — that research has suggested that genetic factors contribute to lower intelligence in Africans than in Europeans.

    At a meeting a few years later, Dr. Watson said to me and my fellow geneticist Beth Shapiro something to the effect of “When are you guys going to figure out why it is that you Jews are so much smarter than everyone else?” He asserted that Jews were high achievers because of genetic advantages conferred by thousands of years of natural selection to be scholars, and that East Asian students tended to be conformist because of selection for conformity in ancient Chinese society. (Contacted recently, Dr. Watson denied having made these statements, maintaining that they do not represent his views; Dr. Shapiro said that her recollection matched mine.)

    What makes Dr. Watson’s and Mr. Wade’s statements so insidious is that they start with the accurate observation that many academics are implausibly denying the possibility of average genetic differences among human populations, and then end with a claim — backed by no evidence — that they know what those differences are and that they correspond to racist stereotypes. They use the reluctance of the academic community to openly discuss these fraught issues to provide rhetorical cover for hateful ideas and old racist canards.

    This is why knowledgeable scientists must speak out. If we abstain from laying out a rational framework for discussing differences among populations, we risk losing the trust of the public and we actively contribute to the distrust of expertise that is now so prevalent. We leave a vacuum that gets filled by pseudoscience, an outcome that is far worse than anything we could achieve by talking openly.

    If scientists can be confident of anything, it is that whatever we currently believe about the genetic nature of differences among populations is most likely wrong. For example, my laboratory discovered in 2016, based on our sequencing of ancient human genomes, that “whites” are not derived from a population that existed from time immemorial, as some people believe. Instead, “whites” represent a mixture of four ancient populations that lived 10,000 years ago and were each as different from one another as Europeans and East Asians are today.

    So how should we prepare for the likelihood that in the coming years, genetic studies will show that many traits are influenced by genetic variations, and that these traits will differ on average across human populations? It will be impossible — indeed, anti-scientific, foolish and absurd — to deny those differences.

    For me, a natural response to the challenge is to learn from the example of the biological differences that exist between males and females. The differences between the sexes are far more profound than those that exist among human populations, reflecting more than 100 million years of evolution and adaptation. Males and females differ by huge tracts of genetic material — a Y chromosome that males have and that females don’t, and a second X chromosome that females have and males don’t.

    Most everyone accepts that the biological differences between males and females are profound. In addition to anatomical differences, men and women exhibit average differences in size and physical strength. (There are also average differences in temperament and behavior, though there are important unresolved questions about the extent to which these differences are influenced by social expectations and upbringing.)

    How do we accommodate the biological differences between men and women? I think the answer is obvious: We should both recognize that genetic differences between males and females exist and we should accord each sex the same freedoms and opportunities regardless of those differences.

    It is clear from the inequities that persist between women and men in our society that fulfilling these aspirations in practice is a challenge. Yet conceptually it is straightforward. And if this is the case with men and women, then it is surely the case with whatever differences we may find among human populations, the great majority of which will be far less profound.

    An abiding challenge for our civilization is to treat each human being as an individual and to empower all people, regardless of what hand they are dealt from the deck of life. Compared with the enormous differences that exist among individuals, differences among populations are on average many times smaller, so it should be only a modest challenge to accommodate a reality in which the average genetic contributions to human traits differ.

    It is important to face whatever science will reveal without prejudging the outcome and with the confidence that we can be mature enough to handle any findings. Arguing that no substantial differences among human populations are possible will only invite the racist misuse of genetics that we wish to avoid.

    David Reich is a professor of genetics at Harvard and the author of the forthcoming book “Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past,” from which this article is adapted.

    #USA #eugénisme #racisme

  • Ce que le numérique fait au droit

    Dans « Justice digitale », l’anthropologue Jean Lassègue et le magistrat Antoine Garapon démontrent que la logique de l’informatique et ses algorithmes transforment la justice en une opération déshumanisée et inégalitaire. En 1999, une époque antédiluvienne pour le monde d’Internet, sortait aux Etats-Unis un livre qui allait faire date. Dans Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (« code informatique et autres lois du cyber-espace »), Lawrence Lessig, professeur de droit à Harvard, posait cette sentence (...)

    #algorithme #justice #solutionnisme #criminalité #discrimination


  • La science française va être plus accessible

    Un plan ministériel « pour la science ouverte » oblige les chercheurs financés sur fonds publics à publier leurs travaux dans des revues ou des archives en accès libre.

    Sans que le plan n’y fasse explicitement référence, ce qui est visé est bien l’hégémonie des entreprises de l’édition scientifique, un marché mondial estimé à une trentaine de milliards d’euros pour plus de 2 millions d’articles publiés chaque année. Le plus important éditeur, Elsevier, a encore dégagé, en 2017, une marge de plus de 36 % et 1 milliard d’euros de bénéfices.

    Le futur plan national, à hauteur de 5,4 millions d’euros la première année, puis 3,4 millions ensuite, va beaucoup plus loin. Il rendra « obligatoire la publication en accès ouvert des articles et livres issus de recherches financées par appels d’offres sur fonds publics. » Idem pour les « données de recherche ». « Nous pouvons, à terme, atteindre 100 % de publications scientifiques françaises en accès ouvert », espère la ministre.

    Jusqu’à présent, cette obligation était rare. Les Pays-Bas, des universités (Harvard aux Etats-Unis), des organismes de recherche (Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique sur les sciences du numérique en France), ou des communautés comme celle de la physique des particules ou de l’astronomie avaient adopté ce principe de l’accès ouvert. D’autres avaient rusé. En Belgique, l’université de Liège a convaincu ses chercheurs de déposer dans l’archive locale, en décidant que seuls ces articles serviraient à l’évaluation des carrières. L’université d’Aix-Marseille accorde 25 % de moyens supplémentaires pour les équipes ayant mis toute leur production dans l’archive HAL, qui, d’ailleurs, recevra une aide technique avec le plan ministériel. Désormais, 68 % de la production de l’université est accessible gratuitement.

    #Open_access #Publications_scientifiques

  • GNS : Catalogue de l’exposition sur la cartographie - Palais de Tokyo

    Le livre bilingue (Français / Anglais) GNS est publié par le Palais de Tokyo, site de création contemporaine, aux Editions Cercle d’Art, avec le concours de la CCAS (Caisse centrale d’activités sociales du personnel des Industries électrique et gazière) et, pour le traitement des images, des AGC (Arts Graphiques du Centre).

    Une large partie introductive et théorique regroupe les textes de Nicolas Bourriaud, commissaire de l’exposition, Philippe Rekacewicz, géographe et journaliste au Monde Diplomatique, Antoine Picon, historien et professeur à Harvard et Christophe Kihm, critique d’art et rédacteur en chef de Art Press, qui éclairent et analysent les problématiques de l’exposition selon des axes différents et complémentaires : esthétiques, philosophiques, historiques, géopolitiques, sociologiques...
    Une vingtaine d’illustrations d’oeuvres importantes, parfois inédites, illustrent ou mettent en pespective le propos des auteurs. Chacune est accompagnée d’un commentaire souvent écrit par l’artiste lui-même : Richard Long, Dennis Oppenheim, Bertrand Lavier, Art & Language, Julia Scher, Allighiero Boetti, On Kawara, Peter Halley...

    La deuxième partie est consacrée aux artistes : chacun s’investit directement en commentant son travail, en l’analysant, en expliquant sa démarche et en faisant un choix précis d’illustrations reproduites en couleur pleine page. Ainsi, Bureau d’études a entièrement conçu ses pages, Nathan Carter dialogue avec Liam Gillick, Kisten Pieroth s’approprie un texte...

    Liste des artistes :

    Franz Ackermann / Burean d’études / Nathan Carter / Wim Delvoye /Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster / Thomas Hirschhorn / Laura Horelli / Pierre Huyghe /Pierre Joseph / Jakob Kolding / Matthieu Laurette / Marc Lombardi / Julie Mehretu / John Menick / Aleksandra Mir / Ocean Earth / Henrick Olesen / Kirsten Pieroth / Marjetica Potrc / Matthew Ritchie / Pia Rönicke / Sean Snyder / Stalker / Simon Starling / Le Pavillon, unité pédagogique du Palais de Tokyo

    Projet cartographie expérimentale
    Tags généraux : #cartoexperiment #biblioxperiment
    Tags particulier : #visualisation #art #résistance #cartographie_politique #cartographie_engagée #représentation