Hi, I’m Steven Mascaro. You may remember me from — actually, never mind that. In brief, I’m a programmer and a researcher with a keen interest in causal modelling (with Bayesian networks) and simulations.
I keep this blog (whose title is a reference to Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose) for a few reasons. One practical reason is to share code snippets and ideas when I stumble across them. The flip side to that is to vent frustrations about languages, platforms and approaches that can sometimes feel as if they are intentionally making life difficult!
A less practical reason for this blog is to share my ill-formed thoughts on the role that technology does, could or should play in society. According to a set of effectively anonymous contributors to Wikipedia, a technocracy is “a form of government in which experts in technology [are] in control of all decision making”. I don’t think that’s the kind of world we live in. Rather, I think that technology is increasingly taking on many of the functions of a decision maker — functions such as gathering information, comparing scenarios and calculating costs and benefits. With tongue firmly in cheek, I don’t see technocracy as referring to high-level decisions made by technology experts, but high-level decisions made by technology. Of course, technocracy interpreted that way doesn’t describe reality; however automated decision making may be, (human) decision makers perform the final evaluation. For major decisions, at least.
Obviously, I don’t think the increasing responsibility of technology in decision-making is a bad thing — after all, I work here. But I do think we need to recognise how crucial a role technology increasingly plays and we need to discuss what this means (beyond dystopian or utopian science fiction) and decide how we want it to work.
Beyond that, this blog is a personal blog meant as a way to clear out whatever I want to clear out of my mind without simply throwing it away — a kind of mental garage sale, if you will. So take a look around and see if there’s anything you like.