People speak of algorithms as if they’re some weird black box, but they’re just a detailed descriptions of the decision-making process that all of us go through every day, just fed into a computer. The really hard “Computer Science” part is breaking down the decision making process into steps so stupid a computer can understand it.
For example, if YouTube actually thought that videos like the ones the author was complaining about was an actual problem[*], they could fix it. They have done so with music and other video content. In fact, they’re famously overzealous for taking down or demonetizing videos that violate copyright, using the very same algorithms the author is decrying The only reason that they haven’t fixed this with kids videos is that they haven’t seen it as a problem yet.
This is just my anec-data, but again, YT Kids being rife with these weird videos is just his, so…
A friend on Facebook, pointed me to this great Op-Ed on the CBC by Neil MacDonald, suggesting that it was controversial, so this was my response:
You want an even hotter take?
What is happening in Aleppo is not unprecedented, or unusual. Look back, and there’s the bombing of Sarajevo, the Srebernica massacre, the genocide in Rwanda, and that’s only in the past 25 years.
It is, however, the first time such a thing has happened in the age of instantaneous live international communications, with twitter, and facebook and snapchat letting the entire world see, immediately, and in real time on an extremely personal level, the depths humanity is willing to plumb.
What is actually happening in Aleppo is sadly common. The novel part is that we can’t turn our heads, we can’t couch it in the terms of international diplomacy. People are screaming, and for the first time, we can hear them.
As a weird footnote, during the NATO air campaign in Serbia, I was on an email mailing list of artists and writers from all over the world (a concept that was in itself revolutionary in those days), and one of the other people on the list was a Serbian artist, who, in great detail and with great language, narrated the bombing of Novi Sad, where they lived and talked about all of the wonderful things that we had bombed. The buildings lost, the architectural heritage lost, and the lives that were lost.
“This,” I thought, “This technology will change the world”
It hasn’t yet, but I often think back to that random Serb, and his unfiltered missives, and it gives me a little bit of hope.
The upshot of their hatred of physics and their refusal to accept the laws concerning how matter and energy interact is that they feel they should be exempt from those laws. They should not have to pay the expense, and they should not have to exercise the care. Governments and police mostly agree, which is why they’ve done their best to bend time and space for drivers. Sure, your SUV takes up lots of space, but even in the most dense cities they’ve made sure there are plenty of voids where only the cars can go. And sure, if you lose control of your SUV you’ll cause all sorts of destruction and mayhem, but at least you won’t be responsible for any of it.
But that’s not enough. If drivers are forced to obey the laws of physics, cyclists should be forced to obey them too–not the laws of physics that govern bikes, but the ones that govern cars. Cyclists should pay money for resources they don’t consume, and they should use an infrastructure designed exclusively for fast-moving vehicles that weigh thousands of pounds. At this point I’m waiting for someone to suggest all cyclists should be forced to tow a trailer that’s at least the size and weight of a Honda Accord.
And most importantly, drivers should never be forced to acknowledge the fact that the “free ride” of a bicycle is also available to them. After all, if we’re getting such a sweet deal you’d think they’d want to get in on it too. I can only assume the reason they don’t is that they’re afraid of other drivers like themselves