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Archive for July, 2007

Daniel Horowitz just forwarded me an interesting article in which Steve Pinker is debating and defending the merits of exploring dangerous ideas even though they may threaten our core values and deeply offend our sensibilities. What struck me most interesting (and laudable) was Pinker’s willingness to play devil’s advocate to his own argument and suggest that maybe exploring dangerous ideas is too dangerous an idea itself and thus should not be adopted as a practice:

But don’t the demands of rationality always compel us to seek the complete truth? Not necessarily. Rational agents often choose to be ignorant. They may decide not to be in a position where they can receive a threat or be exposed to a sensitive secret. They may choose to avoid being asked an incriminating question, where one answer is damaging, another is dishonest and a failure to answer is grounds for the questioner to assume the worst (hence the Fifth Amendment protection against being forced to testify against oneself). Scientists test drugs in double-blind studies in which they keep themselves from knowing who got the drug and who got the placebo, and they referee manuscripts anonymously for the same reason. Many people rationally choose not to know the gender of their unborn child, or whether they carry a gene for Huntington’s disease, or whether their nominal father is genetically related to them. Perhaps a similar logic would call for keeping socially harmful information out of the public sphere.

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There is a movement afoot in the business world that parallels the growing maturity of the internet and Web 2.0. Let’s call it Management 2.0. Google is a famous example at the vanguard, notable not so much for its management innovation per se — many companies are just as innovative when it comes to management — but rather for its rapid growth, global mindshare and financial success. A Harvard Business Review issue in the winter of 2006 claimed that management innovation — not technological innovation — is now the key driver of economic value worldwide. To be sure, management innovation is enabled by new technologies, especially those involving the internet and communication. Following are some of the concepts of Management 2.0, you are encouraged to complete and refine this list. (more…)

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