Profit, not welfare

, posted

From “Counter-Optimizing the Crisis”:

I’m continuously struck, particularly in computer science, by how pervasive the idea is that these systems are optimizing over our individual preferences. We hear “Google gives you advertisements that fit your preferences,” or “we offer Waze users the best path.” Part of the effect of this is to suggest that these firms are in the process of doing some neutral or beneficent resource allocation, contributing to social welfare, when what they-re doing is profit calculation, with significant negative externalities.