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Longtime Linux Advocate Don Marti Tells Why Targeted Ads are Bad (Video 1 of 2) 187

Posted by Roblimo
from the buy-buy-buy-spend-spend-spend dept.
"Don Marti, says Wikipedia, "is a writer and advocate for free and open source software, writing for LinuxWorld and Linux Today." This is an obsolete description. Don has moved on and broadened his scope. He still thinks, he still writes, and what he writes is still worth reading even if it's not necessarily about Linux or Free Software. For instance, he wrote a piece titled Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful, and has written lots more at zgp.org that might interest you. But even just sticking to the ad biz, Don has had enough to say recently that we ended up breaking this video conversation into two parts, with one running today and the other one running tomorrow.



There will be a single transcript for both videos; it's scheduled run with the second one.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Longtime Linux Advocate Don Marti Tells Why Targeted Ads are Bad (Video 1 of 2)

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  • Advertising Considered Harmful.

    • That was missing the point.

      The very important point that the article made: Targetted advertising considered harmful to advertisers.
      • Re:More to the point (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @04:09PM (#45084815)

        No, if you read the article, he's saying the opposite, targeted advertising is harmful to consumers.

        His central thesis is that advertising is valuable to consumers to help correct an information imbalance between the buyer and seller. The buyer needs to be able to separate the low-quality option from the high-quality option. Seeing that one company is willing to spend $50,000 on an ad in a national publication is a good indication that they're confident in their product to believe they can recoup that. If a company is willing to spend $3 on targeted ads, there's a better chance that they can recoup that before the word of mouth got around and people stopped buying.

        Basically, the more expensive advertising is, the more it's only available to the contenders and not the pretenders. Targeted ads even the playing field and lose their value to buyers.

      • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @05:26PM (#45085857)

        no, targetted advertising is bad fort advertisers. (as well as the rest of us).

        My case: I need a new pair of windscreen wipers, so I googled for them, found the kind I wanted and the shops that sold them. Placed my order and when they arrived, stuck them on my car.

        So now, when I browse the web (without adblock, for some sites) guess what adverts I get... and guess how many additional pairs of windscreen wipers I'm likely to purchase. So those advertisers are paying good money to show me adverts that I will definitely not be interested in. Which is ironic as targeted adverts are supposed to do exactly the opposite.

        There is another argument in that the targetting is too easily gamed. I look at the hungersite.com, and click whatever advert is on there. So now I get ads for womens clothing and telecoms products. None of which I bother to look at anyway, but still shows that the targetting is pointless.

        Ad systems that work, work based on the demographic of the website visited. You gather info about the kind of user you have, and then sell ad space directly to advertisers that are likely to want to advertise to your users. So a technology site is not going to do well with adverts for baby products, but will do much better with adverts for computer hardware. Its the same model used for television - people who watch soaps will want adverts for household products, those who watch space documentaries .. something else. Advertisers who want to maximise their advertising budgets would do well to understand this.

        • I heard you say "poorly implemented targeting helps no one, but done right everyone benefits."

          Is that what you meant? Because that's your last paragraph.

        • I think it depends on what is being advertised and the method of targeting.

          You (and Mr Marti) make a point, but I think it's only a point against one of the very common forms of targeted advertising that exists today.

          In your first example, they don't know you bought the windscreen wipers, so they keep advertising them to you and it's useless to both you and them. In your second example, they're targeting to you for the wrong products based on incomplete information about you. These are problems with the im

      • by Lennie (16154)

        Forget targetted, advertising considered harmful.

        If the NSA uses man-in-the-middle-attackes browsers trying to talk to doubleclick then we know we have a big problem.

        Advertising networks that gather lots of data, do tracking is just a bad idea. It attract other bad actors like the NSA.

    • Yeah, he had a section of his writing that had a kinda sloppy counter-argument to this, but advertising and a true free market, according to neoliberals, are fundamentally contradictory.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @04:09PM (#45084817)

      Advertising Considered Harmful.

      No. Advertising is just fine. Ever submitted a resume for a job? Advertising. Ever held up a sign to protest something? Advertising. Ever posted something political to your Facebook? Advertising. Advertising is nothing more than heading out into the big blue room and yelling "Here I am! Over here! Look at me!" ... or if you're from the South, "y'all ain't gonna believe this shit. Hold my beer." Advertising is neither good nor evil, neither harmful nor beneficial. It's just an umbrella term for anything that tries to get another person's attention.

      Advertising becomes harmful when it encourages people to do things they shouldn't be doing. For example; Casinoes. Ever notice they almost exclusively target the elderly? These are vulnerable adults who, due to age-related cognitive deterioration, don't have the best critical thinking skills and tend to be overly-trusting. They're easy to take advantage of. And most of the lever-pulling zombies they have on the floor really, really, should not be there. They're on fixed income and they're pissing money away to pull a lever like some lab rat. A cocaine habit would be cheaper for some of these poor bastards.

      Advertising becomes harmful when it crosses lines of privacy and cultural norms to get that extra sale. Obama, please stop sending me e-mails. I also don't want v1agr@ for 'cheep', penis or breast enlargement pills, and the list goes on. This isn't just ineffectual advertising, but it results in loss of impact globally, creating a Red Queen race amongst advertisers.

      Advertising also becomes harmful when there's too much of it. Something like 1/3rd of television is overt advertisement, more if you consider the pop-unders and animated shit they put across the screen while you're watching the show. And then there's paid product placement. All tallied, probably over half of TV content is advertising.

        And not just harmful to you or me, but also harmful to the advertiser! Having to jack the volume up to level 99 to try and capture the attention of your viewers because it's a veritable crap-flood for 5 minutes at a go, fed to you in 10-30 second screams out of your idiot box... is not improving your sales figures.

      And that's just TV and print media. On the internet, advertising isn't just annoying or ineffectual -- the platforms for serving these ads all over the internet can be compromised to spread malware, viruses, and government-endorsed spyware to millions in mere moments.

      My point here is that advertising itself isn't harmful; Particular advertising methods are. You can't get rid of advertising, and in fact, it has a valid use. Companies need ways of attracting new business. Targeted advertising, especially opt-in, is much better at doing that than previous methods. But as a society, we need to figure out a way to balance the legitimate business needs here with the equally legitimate privacy and quality of life concerns of the general population. A good balance between these things benefits all parties -- businesses and citizens alike.

      But right now, it isn't balanced, and in fact is so out of balance it's toxic. But that does not mean advertising, as a concept, is harmful. So please be careful tossing off one-liners like this -- they rarely paint a complete picture, and encourage black and white thinking.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Advertising is more than just informing someone. It's informing someone with the intent of getting them to give you money they would not have given you otherwise. What we, as good citizens and neighbors, should want is for everyone to make the best decisions based on the best information. The way people do that is to use non-biased information sources. There's no way that using biased information can lead to better decisions than non-biased information, so advertising is always harmful.

        • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @04:43PM (#45085351)

          Advertising is more than just informing someone. It's informing someone with the intent of getting them to give you money they would not have given you otherwise. What we, as good citizens and neighbors, should want is for everyone to make the best decisions based on the best information. The way people do that is to use non-biased information sources. There's no way that using biased information can lead to better decisions than non-biased information, so advertising is always harmful.

          When you lose your job, please remember these words of wisdom, and submit no job applications, resumes, or talk to anyone about your skills and abilities.

          Dude, black and white thinking -- you got a severe case of it. Please see a doctor.

          • When you lose your job, please remember these words of wisdom, and submit no job applications, resumes, or talk to anyone about your skills and abilities.

            I completely understand your point, but I really think putting resume submission in the advertising column is a bit of a stretch. Ads are mostly unsolicited. I rarely go around shoving my resume into the hands of random pedestrians.

            • I completely understand your point, but I really think putting resume submission in the advertising column is a bit of a stretch. Ads are mostly unsolicited. I rarely go around shoving my resume into the hands of random pedestrians.

              Stay unemployed long enough, and you'll be holding up a sign that says "IT/Network Administrator. Will Compute For Food." Actually, I did that for a few days. While wearing a cardboard cutout of a computer monitor around my head, and the text was on another piece of cardboard made to look like a keyboard. Got several interviews out of that -- I guess some employers still like seeing initiative.

              People need to square with the idea that advertising isn't evil; anymore than a screwdriver is. It's the person tha

            • by kwbauer (1677400)

              So, you only submit resumes to companies that have asked you for one? And that would also be your plan if laid from your current employer without already having been approached by other companies?

          • by Hatta (162192)

            My resumes are honest, solicited, and submitted for positions where I believe I am the best candidate. You can't say that about advertisements. A data sheet is not an advertisement.

            • Perhaps yours are, but I've certainly seen some fantasy work submitted. Equate those to annoying and false ads and yours to an ad for a cause you believe in.
              • by Hatta (162192)

                I disapprove of those too. People should make up their own minds on products and causes, based on the best available evidence from unbiased sources. Anything more biased or misleading than a datasheet is unethical.

            • by Mandrel (765308)

              My resumes are honest, solicited, and submitted for positions where I believe I am the best candidate.

              But, like all advertising, your resume doesn't tell the whole truth. Not many will comprehensively list their faults.

              It's possible to conceive of a world without job ads: all potential employees are interrogated by an independent employment assessment organization who then provides employers with the most suitable single candidate or group of candidates.

              Of course this is mostly a fantasy, just like a world without ads for products is a fantasy, where we would rely entirely on product assessment organiz

        • by AJH16 (940784)

          The thing about advertising is it should never be your only resource. Targeted advertising is great if you use it purely to discover products. When I'm in the market for a new widgamajig and they notice that I'm looking for a widgamajig and start displaying ads for other types of widjamjigs, that is helpful to me because it shows more options that I might not have thought of.

          It's kind of like letting the advertiser choose the keywords that match with their product and then having my keywords meet in the m

          • by Hatta (162192)

            Targeted advertising is great if you use it purely to discover products.

            You know what else is great for discovering products? Asking knowledgable people with no financial interest in my decision.

            If I'm dumb

            Advertising doesn't only affect the dumb. If you've seen an ad for something, even if you don't remember the ad consciously, you're still going to favor the familiar, even if you don't know you're doing it. It's insidious.

            • Not if you make informed decisions and sometimes new products are the best and as an early adopter other knowledgeable people aren't always there. Some of us are capable of making decisions on objective criteria.

            • by Mandrel (765308)

              You know what else is great for discovering products? Asking knowledgable people with no financial interest in my decision.

              The most knowledgeable people will usually be professionals. But the ranks of these will thin If enough people don't want to pay them, either directly, by looking at their annoying and distracting ads, or by turning them into salespeople by using their affiliate links.

              Amateurs can be a good substitute, particularly now we have online forums. But often the information from amateurs is either wrong, anecdotal (only useful in aggregate), or is second-hand information from the above threatened professionals.

            • You know what else is great for discovering products? Asking knowledgable people with no financial interest in my decision.

              My sig is an ad. It's advertising a book I wrote. Let's look at a couple of hypothetical where I decided not to ever advertise it.

              1) Let's say you're interested in the subject of Self-Discovery through psychedelics, but you're unsure what good books there are on the topic. You Google around and find.... a couple of Amazon links to books written a long time ago that other people have finally written reviews for. Do you find my book? Not likely. No one has ever heard of it so no one ever wrote anything

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          You did not listen to his argument and your definition of advertising is far to0 broad.

          There's no way that using biased information can lead to better decisions than non-biased information, so advertising is always harmful

          That statement is 100% true in all cases.

          I have never seen advertising that contained a shred of truth. As another put it, advertising has always been about psychological manipulation of a person. This is also 100% true.

          Is it advertising for me to post a resume online? No. Not if it was all factual.

          Take a manufacturer's website for example. When you look at a product it of course covers the major talking points of the dev

          • by kwbauer (1677400)

            "I have never seen advertising that contained a shred of truth." Seriously. The Ford ad claims that Ford dealers have new cars manufactured by Ford. What company manufacturers the Ford cars that the Ford dealer sells. I also saw an add the other day that insinuated that I could get a red Toyota something or other. Did Toyota run out of red paint?

          • I have never seen advertising that contained a shred of truth.

            I challenge you to find a single lie in the advertisement that constitutes my slashdot sig or even the Amazon web page it links to.

            Once you have a tighter definition of just what advertising is , it's clear that he is absolutely correct. All advertising is indeed harmful, because all advertising contains only manipulative content devoid of any real truth. In fact, dissemination of truth is the last purpose of advertising.

            With this argument you're either building up a strawman or using a no-true-scotsman fallacy (too early to tell, but could be both). A lot of advertising is manipulative content devoid of any real truth, but that's not the definition of advertising. It's fair enough to say that advertising that falls in to this category is harmful, however - even if that were 99.999% of adver

      • by sqrt(2) (786011)

        Your definition for advertising is so broad as to be meaningless. Advertising can be more narrowly defined as corporate speech intended to persuade potential consumers into taking some sort of economic action, usually the purchasing of a product or service. The keyword there is persuade. They have no intention or incentive to be truthful, or to take the consumer's needs into account. Advertisers can and do use every trick and psychological hack available to sell products. It doesn't matter if the consumer r

        • by Alomex (148003)

          They have no intention or incentive to be truthful,

          Actually in many European countries by law advertising has to be truthful. Only in America are companies given so much leeway in twisting the facts in ad copy.

          This has to do in part with strong first amendment rights but also in part to straight out lobbying from industry.

          • by sqrt(2) (786011)

            We also allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly to patients on television. That's fucking insanity, but everyone just thinks nothing of it. I feel like I'm living in the movie They Live sometimes.

          • by Mandrel (765308)

            Actually in many European countries by law advertising has to be truthful.

            The truth, but not the whole truth. This is the sine qua non of advertising. Spin.

        • by kwbauer (1677400)

          And your definition is so narrow that the advice given to job-seekers about "advertising yourself" does not even exist.

          "by its very nature deceptive, dishonest, and serves the needs of the advertiser, not the consumer." So the ad in the local paper for the hardware store that said they had something on sale that happened to be one of the models I had been looking at was all completely deceptive and when I got to the store and bought the thing it was actually $150 more than advertised (to match the manufactu

      • Pedant. We are obviously not talking about your overly broad definition. Context is important, and you ignored it.

          If moderation worked without JavaScript you would have a -1 off topic. But I am willing to type rather than enable it

      • by Shompol (1690084)

        Ever submitted a resume for a job? Advertising.

        No no no, for me to submit a resume for a job they must have a relevant opening and actually post that opening on their website or 3rd party list of openings. That is how things are SUPPOSED to be done.
        Advertising is when my resume is plastered on office buildings around the town.

      • Obama, please stop sending me e-mails. I also don't want v1agr@ for 'cheep', penis or breast enlargement pills, and the list goes on.

        The depressing thing about this is, if people didn't buy them, then the emails would stop coming. But people are actually buying unknown pills from sketchy vendors on the internet and eating them.

  • I use ad blocking, refuse to see any video at all that starts with ads, and even use filters for facebook and linked.in. Actually facebook and youtube are extremely annoying without filters in the browser.
  • First, they suck. I buy a camera, like it, don't return it, yet am then bombarded by ads from the vendor - for the same camera/accessories. WTF?
    Two, I'm an inventor by trade. I get a lot of traction by seeing things I didn't expect/want and figuring out how to synthsize these found things into new inventions.
    Targeted ads fail on both, horribly.
    • by Webcommando (755831) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @03:57PM (#45084675) Homepage Journal

      First, they suck. I buy a camera, like it, don't return it, yet am then bombarded by ads from the vendor - .

      I typically use blocking software on most sites, but not all. What I find is the ads are always too late to be useful.

      As an example, I was looking at AutoTrader for a used car. Found one I liked, went to dealer, and purchased it. Now, weeks later I still get ads for vehicles. No problem; maybe they assume people search longer for a car. I'll buy that. Purchased flowers for my fiance and the next day I'm getting ads for flowers. Yes, I love her but I'm not buying flowers everyday.

      Basically what I'm trying to say is that the ads lag behind what I'm in the market for. They aren't predictive (maybe Google does better when scanning your email) and thus don't add much value if you're already done with the purchase. Facebook seems a bit better because they link them to topics people are discussing in posts. I like to post about cool guitar gear I find so an ad for a discount at Guitar Center might be useful. However, that is rare too.

      BTW, don't like ads anymore than anyone else.

  • Quick, everyone post spam assassin false positives and goatse pictures in the comments section to change Sladshdot's ads targeting this story!

    We can win this fight by bringing /. to it's first post glory days!

  • "Trying to increase relevance by turning up the creepy level is likely to increase ad blocking, not reduce it."

    The entire gloss magazine business is predicated on the observation that people like to look at well targeted advertising. I think the new media companies (Google, Facebook, etc) are just copying old media and are on the right track. I don't think people really care about privacy. They vote for Congressmen who support the PATRIOT Act. They send naked photos of themselves to casual lovers over SMS.

    • by istartedi (132515)

      Ahhh yes, but it was *you* who picked up a copy of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce publication. They didn't sniff your zip code from your IP address and put the ad next to your g-mail. The ad sends a message of "We are helping to fund this glossy thing that they stack up in boutiques. We drink white wine and eat little sandwiches with the editors. If you work with us, maybe we can do lunch some time". The g-mail placement sends a message of "we contracted out with yet another online advertising f

      • His thesis is compelling, no doubt. What about the signaling of the market capitalization of Facebook and Google though. Doesn't that signal at least as strongly as an ad in Vogue Magazine that they are on to a good idea with their targeted advertising?

        • by istartedi (132515)

          The market caps of GOOG and FB signal a lot of things. Only time will tell if they are signalling an irrational market, Federal Reserve policy, or a long term validation of targeted advertising.

  • Nothing New... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @03:56PM (#45084653)

    Targeted ads have been around forever, but with less granularity. You don't advertise malt liquor in The New Yorker, and you don't advertise Tiffany in High Times. [Unless Tiffany started making bongs... ...did they... ...I digress.]

    About a year ago, I took the plunge. I let Google see everything my Android sees and logged into Chrome.

    Net result to me for giving up my privacy to big do-no-evil? Better service overall across the Google platform, with a minimal amount of what appears to be well tailored advertising for me. I'll let Google read my maps searches in exchange for being "politely notified" about a restaurant near my destination that has a 2-for-1 special that night.

    I love 'em.

    Also... Obligatory Futurama:

    Leela: Didn't you have ads in the 21st century?"
    Fry: Well sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio, and in magazines, and movies, and at ball games... and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts, and bananas and written on the sky. But not in dreams, no siree.

  • by jonbryce (703250) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @03:59PM (#45084687) Homepage

    But I find a lot of adverts are extremely badly targeted.

    For example, "Thank you for buying a BCI 526Y ink cartridge. Are you interested in our amazing special offer of a Canon MX885 printer to put the thing in?".
    Or, "Thank you for buying an SD card from us. Here is a list of digital cameras that we sell should you want something to put it in."
    Both those are real life examples from Amazon.

    Come on, how many people buy a random inkjet cartridge and then wonder what they are supposed to do with it. Maybe they could wait for a bit, then advertise the same inkjet cartridge, in case I might think of buying it from Staples instead. Or maybe I might want the Cyan cartridge at some point, or the BCI 525Bk one. But that's not what they do.

    Then there's the ads that follow you round the internet. For example I have a look at a pair of shoes a particular shoe shop. Then I see adverts everywhere I go for that exact same pair of shoes that that exact same shoe shop. Stop stalking me. I know you sell those shoes. I know I didn't buy them. Maybe there is a reason why I didn't buy them. Just leave me alone.

    • Also... buy something for your girlfriend or mom... then you see globs of female advertising. Binary God help me if I ever have to buy tampons through Amazon.
  • Argument Fail (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dcollins (135727) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @04:11PM (#45084853) Homepage

    The central part of the argument, referring to papers by Davis et. al., seems like batshit lunacy to me.

    Davis et. al. ask the question, “Is advertising rational?” and come up with: “It is not so much the claims made by advertisers that are helpful, but the fact that they are willing to spend extravagant amounts of money on a product that is informative.”... what is a “screening mechanism” that will separate the sellers who believe their products to be of high quality from the deceptive sellers? The idea is to come up with some activity that is costly enough for low quality sellers that they won’t do it, but still affordable for high quality sellers. Advertising shows that a seller has the money to advertise (which they presumably got from customers, or from investors who thought the product was worth investing in), and believes that the product will earn enough repeat sales to justify the ad spending.

    That's crazy talk. If that were true, advertising could just be a bunch of people burning money onscreen and saying "yeah, our stuff is so awesome we can do this with our spare cash". But what advertising really is (usually) is a bunch of scummy emotional ploys to make people feel deprived and needy of some product. Personally, I use any advertising I see as a signal of what not to buy: Banks, insurance, investment services, phones that advertise widely on TV always have the shittiest customer service (they must be so big they couldn't possibly care about me as a customer). As my friend says, "advertising is always a communication of the problems that company is trying to fix".

    Advertising in general is just scummy shit to make people do what they don't want. Unfortunately Marti's argument falls apart by it being hinged on this insane "rational economy" assertion.

    • by epine (68316)

      Advertising in general is just scummy shit to make people do what they don't want. Unfortunately Marti's argument falls apart by it being hinged on this insane "rational economy" assertion.

      Sorry, bucko there's no free lunch on thinking straight.

      Actually burning money is déclassé. (So is failing to render basic Unicode.) However, conspicuous consumption [wikipedia.org] really works when done right. Thorstein Veblen, this is Mr Cecil Rhodes. You'll get along famously.

      As far as Don Marti goes, it's

      • I'm usually pretty good about that.

        Here follows some anti-lameness fodder:

        The origins of Unicode date to 1987, when Joe Becker from Xerox and Lee Collins and Mark Davis from Apple started investigating the practicalities of creating a universal character set. In August 1988, Joe Becker published a draft proposal for an "international/multilingual text character encoding system, tentatively called Unicode". Although the term "Unicode" had previously been used for other purposes, such as the name of a progra

    • by dkf (304284)

      If that were true, advertising could just be a bunch of people burning money onscreen and saying "yeah, our stuff is so awesome we can do this with our spare cash".

      I'd buy that!

  • Most of the ads I still see are ads for things I already bought, because someone happened to notice me browsing a relevant product page or doing a web search... so ad an for just about anything else would have been far more effective.

    For example, I just bought a new NAS, and noticed this morning that I was getting NAS ads. Totally fscking useless, other than to make money for whatever site is shoveling the ads in my direction.

  • I prefer seemingly random auto playing video ads with nice clear audio on Slashdot's front page to anything...
  • BYW: CIOs don't buys ads, marketing people do.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @04:58PM (#45085549)
    Forget the content of the advertisement, it doesn't matter.

    The only buying decision that matters is the one where the advertising agency convinces their customer to buy the advertising they are proposing. What the ad tries to sell to the end user is completely irrelevant. By the time the ad gets onto the air, into print or on a website, the sale has already been made - the ad agency has got its money.

    Whether advertising is direct, targetted, stuffed under your windscreen wiper, blocked by a program or on the front page of the NYT is just a technique used to sell the advertising - not the product. Once agencies find that one form of advertising no longer convinces the client to part with their cash, they'll find the next "new thing" and the whole world will move on.

  • While I use an ad-blocker on my desktop machines, I don't do anything to block ads on my iPad. I realize I can at least shut-off targeting, (and could use a proxy - would be easy given I almost never leave the house with it, and just use my WiFi) but I haven't as of yet. I suppose I will, though, because I am noticing a trend: most of the ads I see are for products I have already bought.

    So, I recently got interested in Sous Vide cooking, did some research, and bought a Sous Vide Supreme. Guess what I see b

  • This post is brought to you by Herpacin! When you've got Herpes, Herpacin will hide them!

    That's why targeted advertising is bad mmkay?

  • Says targeting is harmful. Have to agree with Bill Hicks here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDW_Hj2K0wo [youtube.com]

  • The ideas that are put forward in the section "Is advertising rational?" are very interesting. They seem related in some way to what happens in biology, specifically evolution and sexual selection. The process of exponential growth in female preference seems to me to be similar to the advertising process. The male grows some fairly useless appendage such as a plume of feathers or antlers that is basically a waste of energy, but a public and visible waste of energy. This demonstrates to the female that the m

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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