Tech for good (or maybe not so much) and our human bias

Impressive (and sad) stats but impressive results for The Last Mile, the organization teaching prisoners to code, with no recidivist (which is saving billions of dollars to US tax payers):

  1. From 1972 to 2010, the number of people in prison in the US had increased 700 percent.
  2. 25% of the world’s incarcerated population is in the US.
  3. In California, we spend more on prisons than on higher education.
  4. It costs around $47,000 to keep one prisoner in jail in California for one year.
  5. More than 67% of the state prisoners released in 2005 were arrested within the next three years.


I was really impressed by the journey that Chris Redlitz went on since 2010 when he created the 6-month entrepreneurship program The Last Mile and since 2014 with the first computer programming curriculum in a US prison Code.7370 San Quentin. His story and the results are here


Through this TED Talk, I was gutted to see how white men coding is leading to biased AI but Joy to the rescue.

And Margaret found out through an accident that teaching her AI that colorful pictures usually depict positive emotions is not quite there when the picture is a house on fire.


There’s actually an official term: “automation bias” where people believe the results of computers even when they see that it produces errors. Heard the term on the super interesting WSJ Future of Everything “Artificial Intelligence – With Very Real Bias” podcast which includes the amazing Cathy O Neil on Weapons of Math destruction and bias in technology. Here’s her TED Talk:


As always, it’s all about knowing our own human bias – highly recommended test on Harvard Project implicit. 

More inspiration on TED on why our brains see the bright side, how juries get fooled by statistics

How the mysterious dark net is going mainstream is a real eye opener.

  • There’s no single pop-up on the dark net!

Like in FMCG:

  • It works like any marketplace: “vendors are attentive, polite, consumer-centric, offering deals to keep you happy”. “They always reply” [to customer emails].
  • There too UGC and ratings & reviews are of utmost importance

WSJ The Future of Everything “The Criminal’s Guide to Cryptocuyrrency” podcast also hints to this.

Very refreshing talk on speaking up to change the status quo and some good advice when exposing “thoughtful truths”:

  1. Did you mean it?
  2. Can you defend it?
  3. Did you say it with love?

Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents?

“if you score the people a century ago against modern norms, they would have an average I.Q. of 70. If you score us against their norms, we would have an average I.Q. of 130.

I was stunned by the explanation of “social progress” looking at the IQ level from one generation to another one: I could really imagine by grandmother who left us recently at 103-year-old “not taking the hypothetical seriously” in some instance.

“they were fixed in the concrete mores and attitudes they had inherited. They would not take the hypothetical seriously, and without the hypothetical, it’s very difficult to get moral argument off the ground. You have to say, imagine you were in Iran, and imagine that your relatives all suffered from collateral damage even though they had done no wrong. How would you feel about that? And if someone of the older generation says, well, our government takes care of us, and it’s up to their government to take care of them, they’re just not willing to take the hypothetical seriously.”

It explains so much about Brexit, but yet it doesn’t explain younger generations’ attitude to the refugee crisis or accepting their bias. So maybe IQ and education are not the only parameters in getting better globally on social progress. Time for empathy and EQ to rule!