“…we can’t pretend they don’t exist anymore.”

James Bridle (from YouTube transcript):

But the other thing, the thing that really gets to me about this, is that I’m not sure we even really understand how we got to this point. We’ve taken all of this influence, all of these things, and munged them together in a way that no one really intended. And yet, this is also the way that we’re building the entire world.

We’re taking all of this data, a lot of it bad data, a lot of historical data full of prejudice, full of all of our worst impulses of history, and we’re building that into huge data sets and then we’re automating it. And we’re munging it together into things like credit reports, into insurance premiums, into things like predictive policing systems, into sentencing guidelines. This is the way we’re actually constructing the world today out of this data.

And I don’t know what’s worse, that we built a system that seems to be entirely optimized for the absolute worst aspects of human behavior, or that we seem to have done it by accident, without even realizing that we were doing it, because we didn’t really understand the systems that we were building, and we didn’t really understand how to do anything differently with it.

There’s a couple of things I think that really seem to be driving this most fully on YouTube, and the first of those is advertising, which is the monetization of attention without any real other variables at work, any care for the people who are actually developing this content, the centralization of the power, the separation of those things. And I think however you feel about the use of advertising to kind of support stuff, the sight of grown men in diapers rolling around in the sand in the hope that an algorithm that they don’t really understand will give them money for it suggests that this probably isn’t the thing that we should be basing our society and culture upon, and the way in which we should be funding it.

And the other thing that’s kind of the major driver of this is automation, which is the deployment of all of this technology as soon as it arrives, without any kind of oversight, and then once it’s out there, kind of throwing up our hands and going, “Hey, it’s not us, it’s the technology.” Like, “We’re not involved in it.” That’s not really good enough, because this stuff isn’t just algorithmically governed, it’s also algorithmically policed. When YouTube first started to pay attention to this, the first thing they said they’d do about it was that they’d deploy better machine learning algorithms to moderate the content.

Well, machine learning, as any expert in it will tell you, is basically what we’ve started to call software that we don’t really understand how it works. And I think we have enough of that already. We shouldn’t be leaving this stuff up to AI to decide what’s appropriate or not, because we know what happens. It’ll start censoring other things. It’ll start censoring queer content. It’ll start censoring legitimate public speech. What’s allowed in these discourses, it shouldn’t be something that’s left up to unaccountable systems. It’s part of a discussion all of us should be having.

But I’d leave a reminder that the alternative isn’t very pleasant, either. YouTube also announced recently that they’re going to release a version of their kids’ app that would be entirely moderated by humans. Facebook — Zuckerberg said much the same thing at Congress, when pressed about how they were going to moderate their stuff. He said they’d have humans doing it. And what that really means is, instead of having toddlers being the first person to see this stuff, you’re going to have underpaid, precarious contract workers without proper mental health support being damaged by it as well. And I think we can all do quite a lot better than that.

The thought, I think, that brings those two things together, really, for me, is agency. It’s like, how much do we really understand — by agency, I mean: how we know how to act in our own best interests. Which — it’s almost impossible to do in these systems that we don’t really fully understand. Inequality of power always leads to violence. And we can see inside these systems that inequality of understanding does the same thing. If there’s one thing that we can do to start to improve these systems, it’s to make them more legible to the people who use them, so that all of us have a common understanding of what’s actually going on here.

The thing, though, I think most about these systems is that this isn’t, as I hope I’ve explained, really about YouTube. It’s about everything. These issues of accountability and agency, of opacity and complexity, of the violence and exploitation that inherently results from the concentration of power in a few hands — these are much, much larger issues. And they’re issues not just of YouTube and not just of technology in general, and they’re not even new. They’ve been with us for ages.

But we finally built this system, this global system, the internet, that’s actually showing them to us in this extraordinary way, making them undeniable. Technology has this extraordinary capacity to both instantiate and continue all of our most extraordinary, often hidden desires and biases and encoding them into the world, but it also writes them down so that we can see them, so that we can’t pretend they don’t exist anymore.

We need to stop thinking about technology as a solution to all of our problems, but think of it as a guide to what those problems actually are, so we can start thinking about them properly and start to address them.

Ha Ha

Ha Ha

Posted on May 16th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
Access_public Access: Public 8 Comments Print // Post this!views (136)  
Tagged with: Ha Ha, Nelson, Simpsons, video, youtube

Nicole : wakingdreamer

17 minutes later

Nicole said

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

ok you win! smiling affectionately

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

yay I’m a winner!  laughing affectionately

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

seems to be my time for losing! I also lost to LadyBear who is the most addicted on Gaia! LOL – see MorningStar’s blogs and the comments.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

I just looked at Morningstar’s most recent blog and saw LadyBear’s comments and your comment about conceding to her victory of spending the most time on Gaia.  I’m not familiar with either Morningstar or Ladybear or a whole lot of other people around this place.  I spend a fair amount of time here, but I’m still so new and I wouldn’t even imagine trying to be as active as either your or Ladybear.

I don’t get around Gaia much.  I end up spending an hour simply making one response to a thread.  I’m thorough if not efficient.  🙂

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

apparently LB asserts there is someone even more addicted than she! LOL yes I do know a lot of people here, and of course you wouldn’t if you have a reasonable approach to Gaia like you, dear Ben.

Love your thoroughness! I have enjoyed all our talks so much, especially when we can really plumb the depths with long long blog comments.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

3 months later

Marmalade said

Hey!  Someone posted this video blog of mine in the wisdom section, but I couldn’t figure out who put it there.  All that I can is that it says “video submitted by Mar…” and then its cut off there.  The only tag that person gave it was “love”.  🙂

More Silly Videos

More Silly Videos

Posted on May 16th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade

Here are some videos that I find utterly hilarious. 

The first one is the first in a series about Chad Vader.  Its very well done for something on youtube.  I knew a mod on a discussion board who was sometimes called Chad Vader for the petty way he acted. 

The second video is Swing Blade.  Its a parody combining Sling Blade and Swingers which are two very incompatible movies or so you’d think.  🙂


Access_public Access: Public 7 Comments Print // Post this!views (129)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 1 hour later

Nicole said

Chad Vader is so so funny! I’m missing a lot from the second because I’m ignorant about pop culture

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

Chad Vader is awesome.  I recommend the whole series if you have the time.

Well, Swingers isn’t all that great of a movie and you’re not missing much.  But you might enjoy Sling blade if you like Billy Bob Thornton.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 13 hours later

Nicole said

Who’s Billy Bob Thornton? Sorry, I’m hopeless about these things… drive my ex partner crazy, he’s such a pop culture nut.

I’ll check out the other Chad Vaders this evening, I feel silly! thanks Ben, hon.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 14 hours later

Marmalade said

Here is the Official Website of Billy Bob Thornton.

Wikipedia says this about him:
“Billy Bob Thornton (born August 4, 1955) is an Academy Award-winning American screenwriter, actor and occasional director, playwright and singer. He came to fame in the mid 1990s, after writing, directing, and starring in the film Sling Blade, and has since established a career as a Hollywood leading actor, having appeared in several successful films, including 2003’s Bad Santa. Thornton has been described in media reports as “Hollywood’s go-to alpha male”.”

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

ok! thanks for teaching me 🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

The student teaches the master.

*bowing*  🙂

*snicker*

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

yeah right! LOLOL! swatting Ben gently with love, laughing

Dancing and Singing Kitties… Enjoy!

Dancing and Singing Kitties… Enjoy!

Posted on May 16th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
 
Access_public Access: Public 3 Comments Print // Post this!views (183)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

10 minutes later

Nicole said

too cute! LOL! hey, did you ever hear Neil Young’s cat 🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

I don’t know about Neil Young’s cat, but here is a cat singing Neil Young.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 13 hours later

Nicole said

ha! funny!

i really liked the morphing cats too.

you know, I never owned a lot of LPs but that Stray Cats one was one of the very few.

And this song is a particularly favourite one of mine

Oooh, Oooh, Oooh, Oooh,
Black and orange stray cat sittin’ on a fence
Ain’t got enough dough to pay the rent
I’m flat broke but I don’t care
I strut right by with my tail in the air

Stray cat strut, I’m a ladies’ cat,
A feline Casanova, hey man, thats where its at
Get a shoe thrown at me from a mean old man
Get my dinner from a garbage can

Yeah don’t cross my path

I don’t bother chasing mice around
I slink down the alley looking for a fight
Howling to the moonlight on a hot summer night
Singin’ the blues while the lady cats cry,
“Wild stray cat, you’re a real gone guy.”

I wish I could be as carefree and wild,
but I got cat class and I got cat style.

I don’t bother chasing mice around
I slink down the alley looking for a fight
Howling to the moonlight on a hot summer night
Singin’ the blues while the lady cats cry,
“Wild stray cat, you’re a real gone guy.”

I wish I could be as carefree and wild,
but I got cat class and I got cat style.