Cathy "Weapons of Math Destruction" O'Neil nailed Trump's tactics when she compared him to a busted machine-learning algorithm, throwing a ton of random ideas out, listening for his base to cheer the ones that excited their worst instincts, and then doubling down on them.
Now, in office, Trump has doubled down on that tactic, but while his feedback mechanism during the campaign was the crowds of angry racists who came to his rallies, today, he mostly plays for a single racist, Steve Bannon, who serves as surrogate for all the xenophobes and frightened people whose adulation steered Trump during the campaign.
Seen this way, his executive orders are not campaign promises kept, but rather consistent promptings from Bannon, with assistance from his big data company Cambridge Analytica and of course the messaging machine Fox, which reflects and informs him in an endless loop.
His training data is missing some crucial elements, of course, including an understanding of the Constitution, informed legal advice and a moral compass, just to name a few. But importantly, he doesn’t mind being hated. He just hates being ignored.
We have the equivalent of a dynamic neural network running our government. It’s ethics free and fed by biased alt-right ideology. And, like most opaque AI, it’s largely unaccountable and creates feedback loops and horrendous externalities. The only way to intervene would be to disrupt the training data itself, which seems unlikely, or hope that his strategy is simply ineffective. If neither of those works, someone will have to build a time machine.
Donald Trump Is the Singularity
Garrett Hardin's 1968 Science essay "The Tragedy of the Commons" is one of the most widely assigned readings in the past ten years' worth of university syllabi; notionally, it describes how property that is held in common is prone to overuse and exhaustion, while privatization creates an owner who has an incentive to serve as […]
If you know the name Robert Bork, it's probably in the context of his failure to secure Senate confirmation when Ronald Regan put him up for the Supreme Court (his sins from his days in the Nixon administration caught up to him).
Torture apologist/homophobe/racist Jair Bolsonaro -- whose successful election to the Brazilian presidency was the result of a conspiracy among the wealthy and senior prosecutors and judges, who subverted the justice system in order to ensure that his rival was kept off the ballot -- has presided over record-breaking Amazon deforestation.
Hey, we love Netflix and Hulu, but let’s face it: The whole setup doesn’t exactly encourage active viewing. For all the binge-watching we’ve done, it’s tough to expand our horizons or learn anything new – except for how many episodes of “The Office” it takes to make us fall asleep. It was only a matter […]
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