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Messages - tyrannosaurus vex

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I don't actually think memes will be very useful except maybe as a way in. After that, it's done all it's going to do and pushing it will only -- at best -- replicate the foothold. It won't convey any content. At worst, it'll overstay the entire method's welcome and implode the whole attempt.

What you say about turning a thought process based on interests is interesting, because that's exactly the basis for the system as it is now. I suppose if time, expertise, and other resources were no issue, it might be possible to use the algorithms against themselves somehow. This approach wouldn't actually work as stated here, but imagine some dedicated effort to convince Google or Facebook algorithms that right-wingers really loved reading Snopes or were huge fans of the novels 1984 and Brave New World. I see a possible way of "infiltrating" the identity of a group and subtly tweaking the established "you might also like" defaults. Of course, to be any good at it you'd need a huge number of simultaneous users doing this on purpose and a deep understanding of how the algorithms collect and consume information.


This doesn't seem woo-woo at all -- it's a lot like what I was saying. Realistically, the sensible solution (without trying to say that the Murikin Free Market needs to not let those silly consumers box themselves in informationally) is education on a level that can be spread around -- e.g., teaching search engine syntax and how to parse what a given set of search results tells you about the quality of the search terms you used.

It is fascinating that these things are happening, and I can see how you'd get the woo vibe from that kinda masturbatory this-is-so-cool "look" to it -- but when you frame things like that for yourself you're suggesting a problem space, and that gives you an idea of some of the difficulties you can work around and how to go about it, which is just as important as actually finding those solutions.

You can find a needle in a haystack quite easily if you know roughly where in the haystack it should be.

I know it's not woo in that it's technically relevant information, but it's a little woo in that it isn't very "actionable" (to use a word I hate). It's easy to jump into the deep end and start exploring and describing the problem rather than get one's bearings and find the way to an objective. We could start training people to search better, but in order for that to do any good, they need to realize there's a problem with the information they're already getting. Maybe that's where the "memes" would come in (and by "meme" I mean any contagious thought or action, not necessarily the classic "picture with text overlay" media).

As an aside, beyond the horrific implications of this, I think it's fascinating that we are now very much constructing The Machine™ in a very literal sense, thousands of people are even intimately aware of the exact source code of it and how it works, and probably very few people even see what it is, or what it does in its real social context. I know personally a few people who work on exactly these type of systems, and the last thing they want to do is reinforce injustice or stop the flow of information. In their minds, they are doing what they do precisely because information does not flow freely enough, or the because right information doesn't make it to the right people. I've mentioned this sort of effect to them before, not exactly in these terms but along the same lines, and their response is the sort of "can't see the forest for the trees" thing that you'd expect from people who aren't negatively impacted by any of this, at least not visibly. They can find anything they want on Google, even things that Google would otherwise bury somewhere on page 60, but they're so fluent in that strange Google Search language you pick up after a while that it's second nature to them and it doesn't really register with them that there are millions of people who aren't that intentional with their searches.

It's possible that it's more than just the way Google handles information as a clearing house. Like the particular and nuanced syntax to tell Google what you're looking for that escapes most people, our information-overload society is forcing the evolution of information  itself so that metadata and context are now as integral to messaging as the content itself. The way that information flows from point to point is becoming a language of its own. Google could make every effort to design its algorithms so that conflicting or "verified" information overrides at least part of the user's history and preferences (and at least some people in Google now recognize the need for that and are actively working toward that), but unless the user is at least somewhat fluent in the methodology of searching intentionally, and they actually choose to do that, any aberrant information will be dismissed and forgotten anyway.

I'm probably getting a little woo-woo over it at the moment so I'm going to spend more time thinking.

Awesome topic to bring up though!

This is absolutely a problem. I don't think anyone on a design team has really considered what a horrifying problem it really is. Understandably, they are solving a problem, and they're solving it extremely efficiently. But it establishes a pattern that's dangerously myopic. Policymakers aren't really at fault for it, because they're so woefully uneducated in these technologies that they themselves are very likely to be just as victimized by the phenomenon as anyone else. It takes a truly analytical mind, or constant exposure to the mechanics of this technology, to even notice that it's happening, much less divine what its context and effects are or formulate some kind of response to it.

And it isn't limited to search engines. Because nearly all social media interactions are recorded and fed into these algorithms, the existing tendency of people to surround themselves with like minds and submerge themselves into impenetrable echo chambers is magnified. The entire system of search engines, social media outlets, and targeted ads becomes a self-healing network that not only reinforces existing opinion, but by exposing those opinions only to compatible opinions, the only viable evolution of ideas is in the direction of extremization. So not only are we being corralled into communities where we are unlikely to encounter information that contradicts any false beliefs we have, we are also being pushed into accepting more and more extreme iterations of those beliefs. And because of the way the algorithms, work, the more inquisitive and curious you are to discover and counter this phenomenon, the harder you'll be pushed.

So, is this happening? Definitely. What can we do about it? I have absolutely no idea. "Trolling" works to at least break into echo chambers, but the immune systems of these communities tends to eventually reject the troll and plaster over the wound with even more extreme beliefs. Memes can spread, but are mostly limited to preaching to the choir. I believe, although lacking any real education in sociology I am likely very wrong, that the only thing that can really have an impact is some organization dedicated to learning about the algorithms that reinforce this ecosystem and designing memes that are capable of spreading across ideological boundaries. What that would look like (or if it's even a meaningful idea) I don't know.

I live in AZ, so, all of them?


2017/01/26, 7:32 PM: I realize (by having it explained to me) why it is not a contradiction to expect, demand, and claim physical and emotional equality for women and still be more offended/enraged by violence against women than by violence against men. I'm annoyed and a little ashamed at my failure to arrive at this realization without having to ask someone.

I am really interested to hear what got you there, because this is something that's still not clear in my head. Outside of the "equal force only works with equally matched opponents, so go light on the 90lbs soaking wet ones" thing.

When talking about a traditionally marginalized or oppressed demographic, step one is to realize the marginalization and oppression are without merit and based in whatever fucked up assumptions or traditions gave rise to them.

Step two is to realize that continued abuse of that marginalized demographic is not only wrong in the universal "don't abuse people" sense, but especially in the "these people have been through enough as it is" sense.

This is cool as fuck, Vex!
Thanks! But, like I said, I only hope to maintain a record and inspire other people who might want to be inspired, not preach, and not to put it on someone else to figure out my shit for me or absolve me of my white guilt. This thread will probably die and be bumped fairly often.

First. This is not a "hey look how egalitarian I am" thread. I will not be expounding self-righteously on these points. It isn't here to show off what I know and you don't, or to ask for someone to give me kudos. It's just here because I often struggle with not understanding why some people say some things, but don't ask about them because it seems like asking exposes the bigotry in a negative way. I imagine other people may have similar experiences. If not, well, sorry intrude, I guess? idk.

This thread is a record of the (likely many) instances where I will come to have an actual understanding of why my supposedly selfless, progressive beliefs are in fact resting on a frame of racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or otherwise bigoted bullshit.

2017/01/26, 7:32 PM: I realize (by having it explained to me) why it is not a contradiction to expect, demand, and claim physical and emotional equality for women and still be more offended/enraged by violence against women than by violence against men. I'm annoyed and a little ashamed at my failure to arrive at this realization without having to ask someone.

The Secrets Forum / Re: Our dreams have failed us
« on: January 09, 2017, 02:14:49 pm »
I read once that conservatives are pessimistic about human nature, and liberals are optimistic.

But I think that's wrong, in a way.  Conservatives are optimistic that people will be rotten (for their own benefit), and liberals are pessimistic that the pace of equality will ever speed up, because people will be rotten.

I think this is accurate. I know I am pessimistic, and not just for the last 2 months. I assume it's all downhill from here.

The Secrets Forum / Re: Our dreams have failed us
« on: January 09, 2017, 12:28:46 am »
People of color, people of lesser means, people of all shapes, sizes, varieties, persuasions and orientations who live perpetually at the back of the line. We are content to know that the desk at the front of the line is taking applications and that people trickle through the door, coming in out of the rain. We are making Progress, and it's only a matter of time until everyone has been served. Our progress is so good, in fact, that we can sustain a few people cutting in line and bribes to the doorman. And why are those hooligans making such a ruckus back there?

The Secrets Forum / Our dreams have failed us
« on: January 07, 2017, 07:47:43 am »
Winter grows like a glacier on the lengthening evenings, night after night depositing a fresh layer of cold onto what was there yesterday. It fits, this season of hibernating nature where everything looks, and feels, like a corpse. The flashing and buzzing of our synthetic society does what it can, but no matter what advances we make in quantum dot color technology, no matter how vivid the reds get, the cheap veneer of civilization peels away upon any close inspection. We scurry, we frantically, urgently distract ourselves with everything we can get a hold of. We build bigger buildings, we buy bigger TVs, we drive faster cars, we blast more rockets into space. We demand progress, because progress is how we define ourselves. Without it, we ... trail off, unable to complete a thought. Nothing.

In a way, it could be said we are the last lucky generation. The ruins of civilization are in such good repair, for now. At least the lights are still on. We know the ride has ended, but if we just hold out a little longer, maybe we -- maybe our children -- will live and die before the whole thing collapses in on itself entirely. No one talks seriously about rebuilding. No one talks seriously at all. No one talks at all. Well, we are all talk, just not to each other.

I am a pessimist. My pessimism runs deep, practically spiritual. I have an unshakable faith in the thorough rottenness of nature's ill-fated experiment in sentience. We have no idea what we are doing, who we are, or who we want to be. And yet, after having my pessimism vindicated so abruptly, I find myself wishing for optimism to show up somewhere. The 1960s were awful for a lot of people, but they gave rise to Star Trek, a show that is universally described as "optimistic" but which, it occurs to my cynical mind, managed to place the universal goodness and godwill of humanity exactly where it belongs: in some lofty, distant future that we will never achieve. At the time, and even now, Star Trek is lauded as describing humans at our best. And, here and there, its optimism inspired real people in real places to do truly good things. But mostly it comforted the already comfortable by telling us that someday, we would rise above it all and become our best selves. So we convinced ourselves that eventually, everything would work itself out. That we were on the right track. That "the arc of history bends toward justice".

Not today, though. Equality is inevitable; it just isn't yet realized. In the meantime, we need more prisons. We need tougher laws for those thugs. In the meantime, we need to cut back on these entitlements, and push people to be responsible for themselves. Someday, someday we will get there; but today, we are here, and let's just do this right now.

I am not educated to know if any of this makes sense in any sort of context. Did we ever value today what we believed we would value tomorrow? Or has our vision of the future always been so divorced from our plan for this afternoon? Our dreams so useless while we are awake? It turns out that history does not move itself. That the arrow of time does not attract the "arc of history". That what goes up does, in fact, come back down.

The Secrets Forum / Re: You need this.
« on: January 07, 2017, 06:33:14 am »
this is the future i've been waiting for.

Literate Chaotic / Re: ITT: Original Story Ideas
« on: December 25, 2016, 04:49:02 pm »
An archaeologist stumbles upon a secret Nazi plot to steal the Ark of the Covenant in order to use its supernatural powers to win World War II.

Fuck you 2016; the year the Status Quo died
RIP Rick Parfitt
The guy should have known better than to be in a group called Status Quo in a year like this.

Aneristic Illusions / Re: A question for America
« on: December 23, 2016, 09:58:01 pm »
This gives me a truly American idea: Declare myself a church and that my religion is the worship of money. Instant tax-exempt status.

Didn't Jim and Tammy Bakker already do this?

That's exactly what they did. But it isn't what they said they did.

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