Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corporation, laments the evisceration of his industry by cruel and calculating algorithms -- and the humans behind them.

Instead of making books appear, Amazon now also makes entire publishing houses disappear. I don't mean to speak well or fondly of competitors, given that HarperCollins is part of News Corporation, but one certainly felt much sympathy for Hachette, which was in dispute with Amazon over commissions, and so its books vanished from the site. It was Amazon's Hachette hatchet job. Shipment times were delayed, searches for Hachette authors were redirected to works of other publishers, etc., etc.

That is the wonder of an awesome, almighty algorithm - a tweak here and a tug there and you no longer exist, you are non-person or a non-company.

How can liberty flourish when the power over the algorithms that run our lives is concentrated in so few hands? Perhaps we should take steps to divide up that power before it's too late.

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