Build a Better Monster
April 20, 2017 11:47 PM   Subscribe

The correct way to play Pac Man, of course, is to consume as much as possible while running from the ghosts that relentlessly pursue you. This was a valuable early lesson in what it means to be an American.
posted by bashism (13 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
Lots of the previous ideas presented in one, coherent argument. A really good piece.

And MeFi's own idlewords is putting his money where his mouth is: by organizing tech workers around the US. That should be an example for us all.
posted by kmt at 1:04 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]

Fantastic article. Gives a clear view of what's happening. Also proposes solutions to the problem than no way in hell will happen. Conclusion: we're fucked.

Signed: a pessimist.
posted by Kosmob0t at 1:16 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]

I thought it was brilliant!

Very well written and insightful. Cuts to the heart of the alien algorithms with no empathy than underly the modern merging of society/technology.

Not much time left to fix this.

I don't think any of the proposed solutions have a chance in hell. I wish they did!
posted by bashism at 1:22 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]

One of the best things MeFi has ever pointed me toward reading. Thanks for posting!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:35 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

Everything moves in the direction of greater surveillance.

posted by chavenet at 2:41 AM on April 21

This is excellent stuff and everyone who uses the internet should read it.

Unfortunately I have to concur with the pessimists on this one, I really don't see these proposed solutions gaining any traction, and I don't think the author does either, and the reason is right here in the first page of the article:
It also taught me that technology and ethics aren't so easy to separate, and that if you want to know how a system works, it helps to follow the money.
Nobody's going to break up Facebook anytime soon, because money. Apple's not going to pay more taxes to California, because money. For every tech worker willing to take a stand, there'll be a second who'll be afraid to do so, because money, and there'll be a third waiting to replace the first, because money.

I wish it were otherwise but the only real solution I see is an individual one: stop feeding yourself into the machine. And as a solution it only has individual benefits, and individual benefits are minimal in comparison to the increasing damage and chilling effects on society as a whole.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:08 AM on April 21 [14 favorites]

Political and commercial advertising are interdependent financially in a way that further blurs boundaries. Politically engaged people spend more time online and click more ads. Alarmist and conspiracy-minded consumers also make good targets for certain kinds of advertising. Listen to talk radio or go to prepper websites and you will find pure hucksterism—supplements, gold coins, mutual funds—being pitched by the same people who deliver the apocalyptic theories.

Many of the sites peddling fake news during the election operated solely for profit, and field-tested articles on both sides of the political spectrum. This time around, they found the right to be more lucrative, so we got fake news targeted at Trump voters.

This part also describes how we got Fox News, and describes almost exactly what CNN is up to.
posted by valkane at 6:24 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

Maciej is a goddamned treasure.

This paragraph is the one I want to frame:
This is an inversion in political life that we haven’t seen before. Conversations between people that used to be private, or semi-private, now take place on public forums where they are archived forever. Meanwhile, the kind of political messaging that used to take place in public view is now visible only to an audience of one.
posted by DigDoug at 6:42 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]

This is an article I will read, though didn't recognize the topic initially by the post framing.
posted by typecloud at 6:55 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]

Maybe I should take this to the gray, but I couldn't read this without thinking of metafilter's very long memory and how impossible it is to erase your presence here. Once upon a time I thought that was a feature.
posted by potrzebie at 7:34 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

Hopelessly naive, and, while the author acknowledges this, he's basically asking the corporations to knife themselves in the gut. Also:

A ban on third-party advertising. Ad networks can still exist, but they can only serve ads targeted against page content, and they cannot retain information between ad requests.

Yeah, how's that working out for you.

In recent days, many companies have pulled ads for fear of having them appear on far-right-wing sites. Under the banner of “brand protection”, this is a useful step. It’s also one area where we can usefully turn the tools of surveillance and machine learning in our defense, by monitoring online advertising (along with traditional radio and TV ads) and contacting major brands whose ads appear on those sites.

The weapons you use will be the weapons used against you. Why are we giving Google this power?
posted by zabuni at 8:14 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]

I dunno. Let me Google that.
posted by happyroach at 9:58 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]

Fascinating. I just shared it on Facebook, which is sort of like spray-painting an anti-graffiti message on a wall.
posted by WordCannon at 12:01 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]

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