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Comment What narrow thinking (Score 3, Insightful) 284

What narrow thinking in these comments. I know, "get off my lawn, Slashdot used to be amazing!" has been said before, but all of these comments are simple "LULZ BofA is stoopid!" Come on people, think bigger and more cynically! Why not devote a few analyst cycles to ponder the reality vs simulation question if you're a major finance company? If we are in a simulation, isn't there a healthy chance that simulation includes bugs that could be exploited by economists living within it?

How many billions could you make if you were able to predict glitches in the Matrix?

Comment My daughter got one at 2 (Score 3, Insightful) 175

Now before I'm told how horrible a parent I am, let me explain. Like anything in life or parenting, I think it's about moderation and structure. We gave our daughter one of our older Android phones when she was about 2.5 years. We were embarking on a 5 hour flight with a toddler and a baby so yes, I was looking for distractions. I gave her a locked down phone (no dialing or data connection possible) with two educational apps and one simple drawing app. We play the apps with her and monitor her play. She can also take photos. That's it. It held her interest for a while, as did a number of other activities we brought with us on the plane, but with a limited amount of distraction available she eventually grew bored. She still has access to her phone at home now and she rarely uses it. We've taken it as a backup to many outings but find we only pull it out rarely (specifically dinner at a restaurant, close to or past bedtime, aka the witching hour).

If you give a kid a phone with the entirety of the internet and app store available with no structure, sure they'll become overwhelmed or addicted. Same thing goes for most stuff we give kids as they get older (insert car analogy). But I also think it's important to have access to the tools, connectedness, and creativity that computers and smartphones can unlock. So as my kids get older and they demonstrate they are ready, I'll unlock more functionality. But if and when I do, they can expect a lesson in how to use that new functionality safely and responsibly. If they abuse it, they lose it. I think that's about the best you can do. Maybe I'll be singing a different song in 7 years.

Comment Re:In the US only (Score 2) 385

I see a lot of people concerned about what will happen when Uber overturns regulations and kills traditional taxis. Don't be.

Uber is a commodity. They have to grow as fast as possible if they want to remain the top brand. But they're spending tens of millions of dollars of investor money to overturn laws not just for themselves, but for the dozens of competitors waiting in the wings. Once the laws are overturned, it's not like the barrier to entry is that high. I ride Uber 5-10 times per month on business trips, and the drivers typically have both Uber and Lyft running simultaneously. Drivers have 0 commitment to Uber or any other company (in fact most of them grumble about Uber when I ask), they just want fares where they'll earn a reasonable amount. The rating system means that crappy drivers or dirty cars will not last long. Uber can't jack up the rates because passengers will just fire up the competitor apps and strike a free market happy median with the drivers, who also have the competitor apps open. I mean raw capitalism has its problems, but when you ride in Uber of Lyft or your local equivalent a few times, you can see it working pretty damn efficiently.

Of course the whole concept of a driver is now just a short-term thing. As soon as self driving cars show up, these ride share services will truly be a commodity. Ride share will just be a default OS app from Apple and Google and when you summon a car you will not know which ride share company is facilitating the actual vehicle on the back-end. Uber? Lyft? Apple? Google? So long as the car shows up, who cares?

Comment Re:It'll never happen (Score 1) 280

The same challenges exist elsewhere (e.g. hotels) and have been pretty well solved by rating systems, brands/chains (you expect and pay for different levels of cleanliness at Motel 6), and general human decency. I know gross hotels make for good 6 o'clock news footage, but most people still use them and automated cars should be even cleaner. I expect the major fleets to be chock full of cameras, both inside & out, for liability purposes. Trust me, Google/Uber/Hertz will know who is messing up their cars and cut them off quickly. Johnny Cab covered in vomit shows up? Report it via the app and get a new car, a whopping 20 second delay. The previous rider gets slapped with a fat cleaning fee and/or ban.

Comment Re:Some will. Some won't. (Score 1) 280

It may take a while, but the benefits are so great that we'll eventually get out of the personal car mindset. Think about it - eventually there will be no need for parking spaces. If all the cars on the road are shared for-hire, estimates are we will need only a tenth as many cars to meet demand (think 1 automated car running at 100% capacity vs. 10 cars running at 10%). All the cars available during peak hours will be driving, none of them will be parked. During off-peak times (say 4am) the automated cars can just settle down and park on the unused highway lanes or the side of the road. Who needs garages and parking anymore? City density will rocket up as those spots get turned into more housing and office space.

Comment Social science is mutable (Score 2) 174

Unlike the hard sciences, awareness of classic social science findings can loop back to impact the phenomena in question or they can change in response to society's evolution. Take the bystander effect for example. How many thousands or millions of college students have learned about the bystander effect in Psych 101? Hypothetically, now that they're aware of it, the effect should diminish and not be quite as reproducible as it once was. Then you layer on societal changes (oblivious smartphone/iTunes users increase the effect, but ubiquitous phones may decrease barriers to reporting and responding to violent crime, etc) and the ability to reproduce an earlier effect becomes muddled.

When a physicist announces a new particle, nothing changes. All the particles keep behaving how they were behaving before the announcement, and they don't care how society changes. The findings should be reproducible 100 years from now.

Many other comments have correctly pointed out that studies in general often focus on the new and shiny and statistically significant rather than reproducing prior results or reporting null findings, but the issue of settling on "truth" is made that much more difficult in the social sciences due to the existence of moving targets.

Comment Re:My Favourite Question Of All Time (Score 1) 353

Hah hah, reminds me of high school when a friend and I started a small web hosting company (pre dot com years). One night we received a frantic call from the local dial-up ISP where our server was co-located. Turns out one of our customers had started hosting some pretty tame stuff (mostly models in swim suits or underwear, but a few nudie pics) and it completely maxed our both our server and the ISP's bandwidth. It created an interesting legal situation given that the two web host owners were also minors - needless to say we had to turn off that user's account. Good times.

Comment Difference between the problem and the symptom (Score 4, Interesting) 452

As an analyst, to me it's a question of data cleanliness. Yes, people should be able to look at the facts (i.e., crime rate) and route around a higher risk area if they so choose. Trouble is, there's a partial racial component driving those crime statistics (i.e., minorities more likely to be arrested) which probably inflates the "true" crime rates for those neighborhoods. If people are going to get all bent out of shape, they should do so up-stream. Tackle the issues that inject a racial element to crime statistics and leave the people looking for an objective measure of risk assessment alone - they're only using the best available data to make a decision.

Easier said than done of course...

Comment It's a screen, not a selector (Score 1) 358

Unless you're applying for a job that requires security clearance (no presence might be good) or a marketing/PR/public-facing position (having a presence is good), it's really only going to be used to screen people out. If a Google search turns up a red flag about someone else with the same name, you might want to create a LinkedIn profile for yourself to SEO your results and easily distinguish yourself from your negative doppleganger. Recruiters are also using LI much more frequently now to look for talent, so it can't really hurt to have a profile. You might get some leads. Other than that though, there's not much reason to go out and create a presence just for your job search. It's only going to hurt you if you post something a recruiter or hiring manager doesn't like and you're not going to get many brownie points for a post they do like.

Comment Re:Big data works for hourly applicants (Score 1) 305

Sure, one question type we use a lot is the forced-choice dyad. For example, pick between "My friends say I'm a good teacher" and "The customer is always right" (they're not actually this obvious but you get the idea). #1 might be more predictive of success for tier 2 tech support agents, #2 for basic customer service. But they can vary from company to company, that's where the big data and the specific competencies required for success kick in. So while #1 may predict for most TS agents, at a company that is truly passionate about customer service #2 may still be the best predictor. No single question is going to make or break an applicant, but in aggregate and across many hires you get very real differences.

Comment Big data works for hourly applicants (Score 1) 305

I work on the pre-hiring screening tool validations at Evolv (full disclosure: Lazslo sits on Evolv's board). I am not at all surprised that silly tech interview questions predict next to nothing. What I can tell you is that validated personality and work-style questions absolutely do predict success among entry-level workers (and if you do it right, professional individual contributors). Like they touch on in the interview, a combination of a structured behavioral interview plus some simple personality screening can be a great screening tool, but you have to balance the raw "big data" results with practical, legal, and applicant experience concerns.

Comment Re:Loaded language? (Score 1) 374

Hi there, I'm an I/O psychologist at Evolv. To dispel a few myths and FUD:

  • - I absolutely agree there are a lot of HR folks & hiring managers out there who don't do a good job of using scientifically-based, job-relevant screening criteria. And no, simple correlations are not science.
  • - We don't actually score or weight every statistical relationship our marketing team mentions to the press :)
  • - Something like this wouldn't be used in isolation as a cut-off. Good selection systems use experience, work samples, appropriate personality & cognitive testing, relevant skills tests, behaviorally structured interviews, etc to come to a holistic hire/no-hire decision, and even then there are always allowances for people who don't fit the mold but who may still do a great job.
  • - The forums seemed to take this in an anti-M$ direction, but the finding is independent of OS. Installing a non-default browser on a Windows or an Apple machine is linked to positive post-hire outcomes. Having said that, there are many other predictors that are more job relevant.

Hope that helps!

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