October 2023 – on bullshit, being human, managing less, and what zoom calls do to your brain

  • The theory that in the past men were hunters and women were not isn’t supported by the available evidence – Scientific American
  • Claudia Goldin, a Harvard professor, was awarded the economics Nobel for advancing the world’s understanding of women’s progress in the workforce. Today, women in the United States make a little over 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Read Goldin’s “A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter”.
  • Survey: 73 percent of HR leaders surveyed report difficulty enticing workers to return to the office. Getting workers to return to the office was the second most difficult objective respondents reported, exceeded only by finding qualified workers. 71 percent of respondents from organizations that are mandating their on-site work policy reported difficulty retaining workers; that’s compared to 46 percent that give workers a choice of where to work.
  • Bartelby of The Economist suggests that you should be a minus-minded manager. This echoes a piece I shared in a previous issue of the newsletter: If “less is more”, why do we overdo so much?
  • University of Oxford Carissa Veliz wonders what Socrates can teach us about AI: “In contrast to Socrates, large language models don’t know what they don’t know. These systems are not built to be truth-tracking. They are not based on empirical evidence or logic. They make statistical guesses that are very often wrong.” She says it has a lot to do with bullshit.
  • “Business is business. Work is work. No need to get personal.” And yet you could be working next to Mark Rothko, Margaret Atwood, or Robert Martiensen.
  • When Yale neuroscientist Joy Hirsch used sophisticated imaging tools to track in real time the brain activity of two people engaged in conversation, she discovered an intricate choreography of neural activity in areas of the brain that govern social interactions. When she performed similar experiments with two people talking on Zoom, she observed a much different neurological landscape.