The Matrix

I guess the name speaks for its self.

Re: The Matrix

Postby jim_lewis1 on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:53 pm

i get on a plane in the first group because:
i'm a frequent flyer
I want to ensure I find space for my hand luggage

The algorithm is all very well, but it's for the airlines benefit, not the passenger's

That's the key to this debate, who's the algorithm optimised for, and if it's not you, how much of a negative impact is it having on you and are you even aware that your choices have been diminished?
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Re: The Matrix

Postby Andrea on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:09 am

for me, it ultimately boils down to a struggle of control between the human and the machine.

The more sophisticated the algorithms become, the more they transform themselves from "glass box" to "black box" systems. In a "glass box" system, everyone can see what's going on inside. With "black box" systems, only those individuals with the expertise and resources have control. We've had a discussion a while back on the the battle I had with getting my freezer fixed. The mechanics were fine - the computer board that ran the "algorithm" had failed. Not even a qualified freezer engineer knew how to replace it! We're now in a situation where the failure of our information systems are so incomprehensible that even experienced people no longer understand what's going on. See for example the events that led to the crash of Air France flight AF447 ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/ju ... ilot-error ). Whose fault was it? The report ultimately blames human failure. I would argue that the information systems and algorithms now required to fly aeroplanes are so sophisticated that pilots no longer get enough "proper" flying experience. So, when these information systems fail, the situation is too complex and the experience is too basic, to redress the situation.

Thanks to technology Neill will be on eight planes in just under four weeks. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that there is no algorithm failure, 'cause the chances of a human pilot fixing the problem are becoming increasingly slim.

Algorithms are allowing us to live faster, more "efficient" lives. But who's in control?
esse sequitur operari
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Re: The Matrix

Postby Teiana on Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:26 am

ok here's a question:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14798203
they're talking about showing some court sentencing on television.

is this a) a good thing leading to greater transparency in the system, and better fairness, and better behaved judges? will it increase understanding? will it make people think twice before committing crimes?
or
b) a bad thing because we'll get shown what makes good tv, not necessarily the whole story. we're not going to see trials or verdicts. this could lead to people oversimplifying things and more people wanting to punish people, and judges wanting to be 'seen' to be doing the right thing rather than necessarily taking each case as it comes. will people commit crimes 'to get on tv'? will it mean people mixing up real life and fictional drama, and blurring the lines between those too much...

if we're to get more information, ought we to get all of it? If we don't, who makes the decision about what information we get? The TV company? the judge? the victim? the accused? the innocent? the guilty? the lawyer? the government?
they'll make some ruling about what is allowed to be shown, for sure, but, what else will be being shown or omitted? You can see the same scene from two different viewpoints and get a totally different idea of what is happening.
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Re: The Matrix

Postby Teiana on Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:41 am

it's actually similar to something that annoys me to bits about the newspapers/online news.. they use the words differently depending what they're trying to show, and it's twisted. For example, a 17 yr old who is injured in an attack, they will describe as a 'boy'. But a 17yr old who is joyriding, will be described as a teenager or a youth, or even a man. A 18 yr old woman who is drowned will be described as a girl but if she's a shoplifter, she'll be described as a woman...

the guilt or innocent is decided by the newspaper and they use weighted words...they should be made to stick to the facts. an 18 yr old is a man or a woman, regardless of whether they are victim or perpetrator.

and if you're thinking i got away from the algorithm topic well i didn't the thing is, there's always been a difference between what we're told and what happened, between how we think things work and how they actually do, there's always been some people who have information and some who don't.. and those that are being kept in the dark by others.. the thing with the algorithms is how we can be lulled into trusting mysterious 'systems' and become unable to question them...like the freezer engineer who can't interrogate the freezer... it's the same thing but becoming exaggerated, worsened by the detail to which the algorithms can now get. we've been at the mercy of 'technicians' ever since they invented the lightbulb...but at least in those days, we still had control of most of the decisions.
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: The Matrix

Postby Neill on Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:53 am

Andrea wrote
Algorithms are allowing us to live faster, more "efficient" lives. But who's in control?

I think I now understand what the converstaion is about. Some times I am slow getting there.
If something is done by an algorithm we understand or the output is "harmless" then we are happy.
So the washing machine is OK because fundamentally we know how to wash clothes but the machine just does it quicker.
And a PC is OK even though we don't understand how it works because if it crashes we just restart it.
But the algorithms that do stuff we don't understand and which cause pain when they go wrong are frightening.
This makes sense.

But why am I not afraid of my own body.
I do not understand how it works and when it goes wrong I am going to be dead.
Am I maybe happy because I have always "known" this system? Is it why nowadays no one worries about electricity even though they do not understand it and it can kill them?

Maybe a system has to be complex, able to cause pain and new to be frightening?

Neill
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Life is not a practice [www.hogarth.de]
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Re: The Matrix

Postby Teiana on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:02 am

but with your own body you think you are in control. you don't think there's some wizard of oz type in the background pulling your strings.

in world of warcraft you can get the characters you control to tell jokes (to other characters), one of which is "Do you ever feel like you're not in charge of your own destiny, like... you're being controlled by an invisible hand?"

mostly people are lazy and like the idea of having things to do stuff they don't want to do themselves. But when it's a butler you can yell at, well, you figure you can mostly control it. Stuff you can see working doesn't seem so bad. But the scary algorithms make decisions about your life you may never even find out about.
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: The Matrix

Postby Teiana on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:03 am

and no, i don't have a butler <sigh>.
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: The Matrix

Postby Andrea on Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:30 pm

I was reading this paper ( http://world.std.com/~mhuben/pk-is-against-liberty.html ) for other reasons, when I came across this passage which I thought was relevant to this discussion:

If there is one political movement today that is so up-and-coming that it's downright trendy, it's Libertarianism. It's become very popular in the high-tech industries, where there are a lot of people who have reaped great rewards from the operation of the free market, who are trained to an engineer's habit of reductionist problem-solving, and who tend to have less contact than the average person with the areas of human experience that don't fall within the scope of these things. Libertarianism is tremendously in evidence in places where the high-tech subculture predominates, such as in public discussion on The Net, and in the computer industry in general.

.....

As increasing technology enables ever greater amplification of abilities, the separation between those who start out with abundant resources and those who don't, in terms of what they can then get out of the market, is likely to widen further.....We are already going to be facing a crisis of division due to those with a head start being increasingly hard to catch, to the point where it may someday literally divide us into more than one species, some enhanced by science and the rest left behind..


It's clear that there are no 'neutrals' in this discussion. There are those people, like Neill, who are gaining tremendous benefits from the use of technology, whereas others, who can't gain access to it or don't understand it , are becoming increasingly marginalised or enslaved.
esse sequitur operari
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Re: The Matrix

Postby Teiana on Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:23 pm

H.R.H. 8-)
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