MacKenzie, Ossandon and others in book panel on Taking the Floor, Oct 13th

October 11, 2021

The Philosophy & Finance Network is hosting a terrific Zoom panel discussion of my book Taking the Floor. Four leading social scientists, Donald MacKenzie, Michael Barzelay, Katherine Chen, & Jose Ossandon, as well as my own sum-up of the book’s core message. Oct 13th, 4:00 PM UK time.

Two years after the book was published (and weeks after the paperback was released by Princeton), the event is particularly timely in that it speaks to multiple ongoing developments.

For instance, the threat posed by models & algorithms is now widely acknowledged thanks to Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism and the various Facebook and tech scandals. But the solutions are still the subject of much debate. Taking the Floor points to the use of models for the purpose of control – rather than for evaluation – as the core source of the problem, and specifically to people’s resistance to being mismanaged by an algorithm.

Also, the importance of face-to-face interaction at work is now much appreciated after two years of work-frorm-home. Yet the question of how to design spatial networks in offices to complement the digital tools used by employees remains unresolved. Taking the Floor explains how spatial networks in offices ought to change as the dominant digital tools evolve.

Finally, the shift to stress testing in the analysis of climate risk at institutions like the Bank of England entails an implicit acknowledgment of the limits of Value at Risk models in grappling with a radically uncertain future. Yet the world’s largest banks are all controlled by these outdated VaR models, and in fact, grew large in part thanks to them. The debate over alternatives to the current “VaR + megabank” regime on Wall Street (which brought to us the 08 crisis) is still in its infancy.

So… lots to talk about! The above is just a teaser for my own summary of the book; the discussants are by far the main act. I truly cannot wait to hear their take.

Hope to see you on Wed!

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