Feeds and search results, at their core, are lists. Facebook and Google itemize the internet, and in so doing, function as gigantic list makers. From a policy perspective, this list-making raises an interesting question: If CDA 230 shields Facebook and Google from what’s in their lists, what about the lists themselves? Are list-makers legally responsible for the way they select and arrange items on their lists?

According to legal experts, the answer depends on the list. Generic lists, like numerically ordered zip codes, don’t give rise to authorship (or copyright). But other lists are original and creative (even if the…


Andrew Yang wants to give a $1,000/month to every American adult. It’s called a “Freedom Dividend.”

So where will the money come from?

Here’s the story of one Freedom Dividend told with smart animals (and robots) Venmo-style. There are 47 payments to America¹ shown in blue and they add up to $1,000 — exactly matching the cost of the Freedom Dividend.

The journey begins on January 1st. You receive a $1,000 Freedom Dividend and use the money to pay for a furnace repair:

This sets off a chain reaction and here’s what happens next:


Alligator height represents annual revenue of entrenched stakeholders (logarithmic scale).


Restroom Line AWS Summit New York City (July 17, 2018)

Attending the AWS Summit in NYC today. The conference is free and open to anyone who registers online (more than 10,000 people have). There’s tons of swag, and even the food is free.

Though the event is a massive Amazon sales pitch, it’s also full of inspirational surprises that anyone remotely curious about the future of computing, artificial intelligence, or machine learning at scale, will find fascinating. Attendees are getting a look at what lies under the hood of the machines that are robo-investing money (Betterment), self-driving vacuum cleaners (iRobot), insta-choosing dates (Tinder), and auto-screening movies (Netflix).

So why aren’t…


Google and Facebook are worth more than a trillion dollars and all that value hinges on this sentence tucked away inside a law passed in 1996:

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”

It’s called “CDA 230," and The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it the most important law protecting internet speech. It’s a huge reason why the internet took off in the United States and without it, Google and Facebook would be finished.

But CDA 230 has a dark side. It’s…


Wives tell husbands how to drive. That’s what they do. But what happens in a self-driving car? I found out last weekend. We were stuck in stop and go traffic. I was in the driver seat but my hands were off the wheel. The Tesla was driving itself.

“Watch out for the car in front of us!” my wife exclaimed.

We slowed and stopped a safe distance away, exactly as the car was programmed. Then a BMW passed us on the right shoulder and squeezed into the lane up ahead.

“What a jerk that guy is. …


Pebble In My Shoe

“I need to see you right away.”

“What’s it about?”

“I can’t talk about it over the phone.”

A moment later I was in the HR chief’s office being handed a sheet of paper.

“Can you explain this?”

It was a fax from a self-proclaimed expert alerting my employer that someone posted slanderous accusations on a site called Ripoff Report. I was accused of being “a con man,” who misrepresented my company and that I borrowed $7,500 for a “made up investment that never happened.” The author combined a headshot and biographical details from public sources. There were innuendos and…

John Mayo-Smith

Mayo In Motion

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