With its special end-of-year message, Facebook wants to show you, over and over, what your year "looked like"; in Eric Meyer's case, the photo was of his daughter, who died this year: "For those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year."
To show me Rebecca’s face and say “Here’s what your year looked like!” is jarring. It feels wrong, and coming from an actual person, it would be wrong. Coming from code, it’s just unfortunate. These are hard, hard problems. It isn’t easy to programmatically figure out if a picture has a ton of Likes because it’s hilarious, astounding, or heartbreaking.
Algorithms are essentially thoughtless. They model certain decision flows, but once you run them, no more thought occurs. To call a person “thoughtless” is usually considered a slight, or an outright insult; and yet, we unleash so many literally thoughtless processes on our users, on our lives, on ourselves.
Where the human aspect fell short, at least with Facebook, was in not providing a way to opt out. The Year in Review ad keeps coming up in my feed, rotating through different fun-and-fabulous backgrounds, as if celebrating a death, and there is no obvious way to stop it. Yes, there’s the drop-down that lets me hide it, but knowing that is practically insider knowledge. How many people don’t know about it? Way more than you think.
Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty
Frontier is the bottom-rung of the top-tier of US ISPs, serving customers in 29 states. Despite enjoying monopoly control over its customers' online lives, and despite massive government handouts and a lackadaisical approach to maintenance, and despite out-and-out theft from customers, the company is filing for bankruptcy, having accumulated $16.3b in debt through mismanagement.
Bruce Schneier's Foreign Policy essay in 5G security argues that we're unduly focused on the possibility of Chinese manufacturers inserting backdoors or killswitches in 5G equipment, and not focused enough on intrinsic weakness in a badly defined, badly developed standard wherein "near-term corporate profits prevailed against broader social good."
Long before 4chan and other anything-goes forums existed, every major online community had a similar community: the Well had its "weird" forum, Usenet had alt.syntax.tactical (among others), and Something Awful had the "Fuck You and Die" forum, where people were funny, mean, obscene, and gross, sometimes all at once.
You don’t need to be a climate scientist in order to know that the Earth is in serious trouble, but the good news is that you also don’t need to necessarily make any drastic changes to your lifestyle in order to do your part to help. This nOcean Wearable Reusable Silicone Straw will help you […]
When it comes to conquering that resolution list and hitting all of your goals in 2020, nothing is more important than getting a great night’s sleep every night so you can wake up feeling refreshed and extra productive. The CarbonIce: 7-in-1 Bacteria Protection & Cooling Pillow will help you do just that, and right now […]
It’s no secret that business leaders and project managers require a certain set of skills in order to outpace the competition and increase the overall efficiency of their company or team. The Lean Six Sigma Expert Training Bundle will take your managerial skills to the next level through training that will help you earn some […]