Elo ratings involve a system whereby your ‘rating’ is a function of who you beat or lose to and their rating. The ‘future of the species’ business is a reference to the fact that this manoeuvre of bootstrapping meaning from the record has become more important to the world recently – because it’s the approach that Google showed us enables us to bootstrap a system of rating websites which provides pretty good proxies for their usefulness to users.
I’ve not checked out the methodologies behind ladders of Twitter importance, but presumably they do something similar rating how many people are following you and how many people are following them so on ad infinitum. Why should you care? Because, like I said, it’s important to our species now that it’s embedded inside the Google algorithm. But there’s a much more important reason. Kaggle is launching a competition to improve the Chess rating system. And today’s chess puzzle is niftier than I’d expected given the star rating it was given. On a quick look I didn’t suspect the denouement.