Posts Tagged ‘Google Assistant’

I haven’t written a lot on this blog for a while.  Partly that has been due to the way a lot of my posts seemed to get inexorably drawn into the black hole of the vitriolic shambles that passes for politics in the US these days (or, it has to be said, increasingly the world over, as the forces of populism flex their muscles).

The lack of posting has also been because a major focus of this blog in the past has been the implications of the design of our social media environments and with that in mind, I was worried that pretty much anything I wrote over the last two years would be a variant of a giant “I fucking told you so!”  Looking back over those posts, some of them from years prior to the election, I’m struck by the fact that pretty much everything I was worried about–the potential for privacy violations, people mistaking communication for community, arseholery for activism, the seemingly purpose-designed suitability of social media for stalking, harrassment, doxing–all pretty much came to pass.  And while I received my fair share of ribbing for being a tech curmudgeon, those pieces now read as being, in effect, too timid, not remotely pessimistic enough to countenance a Cambridge Analytica, or Twitter playing whack-a-mole as it wiped out tens of millions (!) of fake accounts.

If I wrote about all that again I’d also have to face the sad fact that for some of my friends all this has made virtually no difference.  Despite even tech monopolies themselves admitting that maybe their products are not entirely healthy for us, too many people I know are so thoroughly invested in the myth of social media as a civic-minded community building enterprise that their denial is as armor-plated as that of any President Pennywise supporter.  On the rare occasions I log into Facebook anymore it is the same sad parade of people shopping their kids, tired memes from a couple of years back, the same old people posting every new rumor and outrage without any fact-checking.  And photos of food.  Always photos of food.

A more positive reason for the lack of contributions is that my gaming interests have shifted somewhat in the last few years, and there will, I hope, be more about that from this point on.

But the focus of this blog has always been artificial intelligence in all its various definitions.  Including art and artifice.  Including intelligence in the data-gathering sense.  Including, on not a few occasions, artificial people who think they are intelligent.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why people seem to be so passionately in love with one form of AI in particular, a love made all the more extraordinary by the fact that it really doesn’t work all that well.  Or sometimes at all.