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Unprotocolized Knowledge

On Wednesday, April 24 at 1PM ET Kara Kittel and Toby Shorin, fellows from SoP 2023 will be hosting a town hall on their research project, Unprotocolized Knowledge.

Visit the forum to access the livestream link.

Be on the lookout for SoP 2024 grant updates next week.

Unprotocolized knowledge

Here's a teaser of Kara and Toby's research:

Overabundance of information and a highly educated public have enabled an explosion of internet-based infotainmnent, amateur science, and crankery. Theories about the dangers of seed oils are one example. These theories have gained significant traction, yet have not been clearly adjudicated by the scientific establishment. This dynamic is frequently labeled a condition of “post-truth,” but we see these phenomena as paradigm shifts playing out over an expanded social field. Cases like these expose the limits—and perversions—of the official protocols for legitimating knowledge.

During the town hall, they'll examine how protocol thinking might help expand who gets to participate in knowledge production, and increase the speed and certainty of developments in science.


Latest research

The other major essay from Module 3 was just published online. Safe New World by Timber Stinson-Schroff.

From 1900 to 2017, the fatality rate in the American coal mining industry fell by 97%. What made this improvement possible? How did it affect society? Will it continue?

This essay derives a theory of protocol evolution from historical improvements in workplace safety, and explores what factors drive protocol selection as a technology matures.

Understanding this evolutionary history of protocols, we argue, is increasingly essential for solving real-world problems associated with complex technologies that mature over long periods.

Protocols are an overlooked building block of continually improving industries and societies. If we want to build a better world, we would be well served to understand what individual actions are needed to generate public goods like safety.

Protocol watch

The same graffiti protocol was discovered in two places this past week! In the physics building on the Berkeley campus and in the economics building on the McGill campus in Montreal, Canada.

Aspiring vandals have to take note of two things. Don't scribble on the tile. You must also make a play on the word "grout". This simple combo spawned two near-identical, mildly vandalized walls at different locations. It's a grout day to be alive.

League of Legends is upgrading its anti-cheat protocols. Stopping cheaters is a whack-a-mole problem. The goal is to protect the game's integrity, but there's no permanent solution. Hacking and banning techniques are in a firefight. As Seth Killian puts it, "The frontier of legible safety protocols is dynamic."

The Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. has increased the hours required between air traffic controllers' shifts. The goal is to maintain high safety by reducing fatigue and increasing alertness of operators. This is a response to a series of very-public near misses.

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