Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Silicon Slimeballs

Yes, I did it.  But, the larger problem isn't going away anytime soon.

I speak of Facebook, algorithms, and AI.  We are but only at the very beginning of it all!

It is not Zuckerberg the person, the programmer, the entrepreneur that is the problem.  It is his techno-fundamentalism:
Zuckerberg isn’t a cynic; he’s a techno-fundamentalist, and that’s an equally unhealthy habit of mind. It creates the impression that technology exists outside, beyond, even above messy human decisions and relations, when the truth is that no such gap exists. Society is technological. Technology is social. Tools, as Marshall McLuhan told us more than fifty years ago, are extensions of ourselves. They amplify and distort our strengths and our flaws. That’s why we must design them with care from the start.
And what can/should be done?
To chart the way forward, Zuckerberg has few effective tools at his disposal. He should be honest about their limitations—if not for his company’s sake then for ours.
Hah!  Imagine Zuckerberg or anybody else in his position being honest!  Hah!  The Silicon slimeballs are increasingly a threat to us all.

AI is severely limited:
At its heart is an assumption that historical patterns can reliably predict future norms. But the past—even the very recent past—is full of words and ideas that many of us now find repugnant. No system is deft enough to respond to the rapidly changing varieties of cultural expression in a single language, let alone a hundred. Slang is fleeting yet powerful; irony is hard enough for some people to read. If we rely on A.I. to write our rules of conduct, we risk favoring those rules over our own creativity. What’s more, we hand the policing of our discourse over to the people who set the system in motion in the first place, with all their biases and blind spots embedded in the code. Questions about what sorts of expressions are harmful to ourselves or others are difficult. We should not pretend that they will get easier.
To think about these limitations, to address them, will require technology developers (and users too) to think about all these, which requires an education that is much broader than merely about technology and the pursuit of profits.  Instead, we are doing everything we possibly can to destroy any semblance of a broader understanding.  We prostrate to the market gods!

What a fucking disaster :(