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follow the money

Every time we went to the supermarket, my mom would give me a quarter to play Pac Man. As a good socialist kid, I thought the goal of the game was to help Pac Man, who was stranded in a maze and needed to find his friends, who were looking for him.
My games didn't last very long. 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.
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.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

rippado de Axios, "Your media future foretold"

A propósito de tópicos mais militantes, mas os artsy-designers que gostam de "fanzinar" e ainda têm um desdém snob ao digital fariam bem em ler um outro artigo já antiguinho deste senhor: "Web Design: The First 100 Years" 2014. Vão descobrir em vocês um novo amor no digital e uma vontade de criar nesses domínios. Give it a try, will ya? Se és um romântico do papel, és um romântico, ponto. E o texto tem o potencial de vos obrigar repensar o vosso posicionamento ao digital: há o sério perigo de começares a ser um romântico das novas tecnologias se este for o teu primeiro contacto à evolução do web design, mesmo se esse é o título do artigo mas em momento algum se trate desse.

Todas as notas merecem leitura e reflexão, e há duas anunciadas que não se encontram disponíveis, mas seriam bastante proveitosas às nossas teses: "Notes on Decentralization", cujo tema parece-nos óbvio, e o "Remember The Web?" a propósito de arquivos digitais.

E porque estamos sintonizados naquelas coisas dos três, uma para arquivo:

    This is the correct vision.
    This is the prevailing vision in Silicon Valley.
    This is the insane vision. I'm a little embarrassed to talk about it, because it's so stupid. But circumstances compel me.

Fora o arsty, de onde essas conclusões introduzem à militância e continuamos destas em seguida.

When I talk about a hundred years of web design, I mean it as a challenge. There's no law that says that things are guaranteed to keep getting better.
The web we have right now is beautiful. It shatters the tyranny of distance. It opens the libraries of the world to you. It gives you a way to bear witness to people half a world away, in your own words. It is full of cats. We built it by accident, yet already we're taking it for granted. We should fight to keep it!
in "Web Design: The First 100 Years" 9 set 2014

Ah, o ano do senhor de 2014.

Fastforward para o presente e os românticos ficam por aqui. Do enquadramento às nossas teses:

As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
A question few are asking is whether the tools of mass surveillance and social control we spent the last decade building could have had anything to do with the debacle of the 2017 election, or whether destroying local journalism and making national journalism so dependent on our platforms was, in retrospect, a good idea. But admitting that this tool of social control might be conducive to authoritarianism is not something we’re ready to face. After all, we're good people. We like freedom. How could we have built tools that subvert it?
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

Surveillance Capitalism, de que falamos aqui.

The economic basis of the Internet is surveillance. Every interaction with a computing device leaves a data trail, and whole industries exist to consume this data. Unlike dystopian visions from the past, this surveillance is not just being conducted by governments or faceless corporations. Instead, it’s the work of a small number of sympathetic tech companies with likable founders, whose real dream is to build robots and Mars rockets and do cool things that make the world better. Surveillance just pays the bills.
It is a striking fact that mass surveillance has been driven almost entirely by private industry. While the Snowden revelations in 2012 made people anxious about government monitoring, that anxiety never seemed to carry over to the much more intrusive surveillance being conducted by the commercial Internet.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

E os suspeitos habituais:

Two companies in particular dominate the world of online advertising and publishing, the economic engines of the surveillance economy.

Google: (...) the world’s de facto email server (...), a dominant position in almost every area of online life. Through initiatives like AMP (advanced mobile pages), the company is attempting to extend its reach so that it becomes a proxy server (*) for much of online publishing.

Facebook: (...) world’s largest photo storage service, and owns the world’s largest messaging service, WhatsApp. (...) The tool of choice for political outreach and organizing, event planning, fundraising and communication, (...) the primary source of news, (...) and through its feed algorithm (...) has an unparalleled degree of editorial control over what that news looks like.

These companies exemplify the centralized, feudal Internet of 2017. While the protocols that comprise the Internet remain open and free, in practice a few large American companies dominate every aspect of online life. Google controls search and email, AWS controls cloud hosting, Apple and Google have a duopoly in mobile phone operating systems. Facebook is the one social network.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

* Guarda a sua própria versão dos teus conteúdos, e é essa que serve aos visitantes, não a tua... Crazy kool, right!

Data Hunger (and no Games)

The one thing these companies share is an insatiable appetite for data (...) and anything else they can discover.

There are two interlocking motives for this data hunger: to target online advertising, and to train machine learning algorithms.

These, then, are the twin pillars of the online economy. We have an apparatus for harvesting tremendous quantities of data from people, and a set of effective but opaque learning algorithms we train on this data. The algorithms learn to show people the things they are most likely to ‘engage’ with—click, share, view, and react to. We make them very good at provoking these reactions from people. This is our sixty billion dollar industry.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

So what happens when these tools for maximizing clicks and engagement creep into the political sphere?

Do algoritmos:

Failure modes become important when we start using machine learning to manipulate human beings. The learning algorithms have no ethics or boundaries. There’s no slot in the algorithm that says “insert moral compass here”, or any way to tell them that certain inferences are forbidden because they would be wrong.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

Do $$$:

Whatever bright line we imagine separating commerce from politics is not something the software that runs these sites can see. All the algorithms know is what they measure, which is the same for advertising as it is in politics: engagement, time on site, who shared what, who clicked what, and who is likely to come back for more.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017


The persuasion works (...) but political sales techniques that maximize “engagement” have troubling implications in a democracy. One problem is that any system trying to maximize engagement will try to push users towards the fringes.
Things get worse when third parties are allowed to use these algorithms to target a specific audience.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

Democracia et al:

Obviously, in this situation whoever controls the algorithms has great power. There are no democratic checks or controls on this power, and the people who exercise it are trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.
What you see in your feed is algorithmically tailored to your identity and your interaction history with the site. No one else gets the same view. This has troubling implications for democracy, because it moves political communication that used to be public into a private space. When no two people see the same thing, it becomes difficult to trace orchestrated attempts to target people in political campaigns.
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.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

Da privacidade:

The lingering doubt that anything you say privately can ever truly stay private. A real worry for anyone is that their private lives will be publicized. Throughout the election, private communications by low-level staffers were leaked and used as a political weapon. The message was very clear: stay out of politics.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

Da vigilância, economia da atenção e resistência:

Surveillance capitalism makes it harder to organize effective long-term dissent. In an setting where attention is convertible into money. There will be no comparable rewards for cooperation, de-escalation, consensus-building, or compromise, qualities that are essential for the slow work of building a movement.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

Das autoridades:

Powerful people have noted and benefited from the special power of social media in the political arena. They will not sit by and let programmers dismantle useful tools for influence and social control. It doesn’t matter that the tech industry considers itself apolitical and rationalist. Powerful people did not get to be that way by voluntarily ceding power.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

Soluções no imediato:

  • Learning To Forget = to become more ephemeral
  • Security =  predictability. People can better partition their activity between private, public, and semi-public spaces and use them with confidence.

ie, DIY indie distribuído:

Above all, people need to have control of their data, a way to carve out private and semi-private spaces, and a functional public arena for politics and civil discourse. They also need robust protection from manipulation by algorithms, well-intentioned or not.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

E, este:

Break Up Facebook: iIf dismantling the $60B online advertising industry is not enough, we also need to break up Facebook. Ideally, we can find a way to have decentralized social networks, just like we do in real life. But social media cannot be the major publishing outlet. It cannot simultaneously be the platform for political organizing, political campaigns, and news delivery.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

...e, punx with an (A)titude, aquilo dos jobs, que dividimos em - duh- três partes.

The window of time in which the tech industry can still act is brief: while tech workers retain relatively high influence in their companies.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

I) Excluíndo outros métodos:

There are very few levers of power over the big tech companies.
Consumer boycotts don’t work. Opting out of a site like Google would mean opting out of much of online life. Some people could do it on principle, but it is not something we can mobilize a mass movement around. We can’t apply pressure through a system we’re trying to abolish, (...) shareholder pressure doesn’t work, (...) regulation is tricky. Press campaigns are unlikely to work because Facebook and Google control most online publishing. Moreover, what remains of the press has just endured a painful transition to online advertising, and is wholly dependent on that business model to survive.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

II) O sugerido:

The one effective lever we have against tech companies is employee pressure. Software engineers are difficult to hire, expensive to train, and take a long time to replace. Small teams in critical roles (like operations or security) have the power to shut down a tech company if they act in concert. We’ve seen some small demonstrations of the power of employee pressure. These victories were small, but real. They were achieved by individual employees organizing informally.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

III) e a dificuldade habitual, que equiparamos ao arsty-fartsy que possui as ferramentas mas nada faz com elas:

Unfortunately, the enemy is complacency. Tech workers trust their founders (...) and are happy to leave larger ethical questions to management. A workplace free of 'politics' is just one of the many perks the tech industry offers its pampered employees. So our one chance to enact meaningful change is slipping away.
in "Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance" 18 abr 2017

E terminamos este registo onde termina o artigo. Do realismo, ou, aquilo de sermos POSITIVOS:

But even though we're likely to fail, all we can do is try.

Presto. Uma série de conceitos chave em torno dos quais nos movemos pelos últimos meses e que tiveram a gentileza de reunir num só lugar: agradecidos.
Relacionado mas na próxima: os main bullshiters: broadcast media.
Isto vai ficar feio.

new broadcast media