Saturday, January 19, 2019

10 Year Challenge

I posted this challenge on social media recently. This is what we do to be sociable: play online games and forward memes. Discussing the world and screaming into the void to try to shift this tragic path is such a loser thing to do. It's a balance to stay just this side of the line where we might be heard just a little.

Wired's Kate O'Neill guessed that, like all those social media games, this one is about data mining, specifically,
"I knew the facial recognition scenario was broadly plausible and indicative of a trend that people should be aware of. . . . Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you'd want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people's pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart—say, 10 years. Sure, you could mine Facebook for profile pictures and look at posting dates or EXIF data. But that whole set of profile pictures could end up generating a lot of useless noise. People don’t reliably upload pictures in chronological order . . . it would help if you had a clean, simple, helpfully labeled set of then-and-now photos. . . . As with hashtags that go viral, you can generally place more trust in the validity of data earlier on in the trend or campaign—before people begin to participate ironically or attempt to hijack the hashtag for irrelevant purposes. . . . Is it bad that someone could use your Facebook photos to train a facial recognition algorithm? Not necessarily; in a way, it’s inevitable. . . . [It] could help with finding missing kids . . . [but] could someday factor into insurance assessment and health care."
But that's not even the thing I'm interested in. That all goes without saying now. I'm interested in how people hijacked the trend (see this too):

Polar ice formation - from Nasa

Amazon rainforest 

And that Gillette commercial:

I've argued agains the claim that advertisers shouldn't be trying to affect people's lives when it's all just a scam to sell stuff, because that's exactly what advertisers do, like, 100% of the time. Sometimes they're more subtle or less effective so it goes unnoticed, but they're always trying to sell us an idea with our stuff. The idea is secondary to the sales, but it's no less necessary. What kind of person buys Gillette or Guinness or Nike? The fact that advertisers are moving in this direction means we're shifting as a culture. If you read the comments, sometimes it feels like we're in the minority, but I think that's just an illusion. People want this change.

And the fact that people have hijacked this 10-year-challenge in this direction, with lots of pictures of icecaps, forests, coral, and conflict, means maybe we're starting to pay attention. And then maybe we'll think about change.

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