They say that power corrupts. Usually, the addendum is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. But what about little morsels of power, meted out to maximize dopamine production by an algorithmically-driven automated system, to brains increasingly trained to act socially within Skinner-box facades of connection?
I am increasingly of the opinion that social media is breaking the minds of everyone it touches. I have not been an exception to that. If I think back to the early days of social media, I remember a generally positive - if mildly banal - user experience. It seemed primarily a way to share memories of meatspace social experiences, a convenient common forum to share photos of that party with everyone who attended, or show your relatives the highlights of your latest holiday. If you had told me back then the sort of monster we had just begun to build, I'm not sure I would have believed you.
Mining Cultural Structure From Copilot
Recently, I joined the Github Copilot Preview which has been of great interest to the software and AI community since it's release, promoting discussion and criticism from many corners. In a recent interview with Yuval Noah Harari and Audrey Tang, Yuval mentions something that stuck with me about the decisions embedded within how we program:
Social reality is increasingly constructed by code. Somebody designed it so that on the form, you have the check "male" or "female", and these are the only two options. And to fill in your application, you have to pick one. Because someone decided that this was how the form was, this is now your reality... And maybe it's some 22 year-old guy from California who did it without thinking that he is making a philosophical or ethical or political impact on the lives of people around the world.
Sometimes, I dream of places. When the memories of those places persist after I wake, sometimes I want to try and create them. I dreamed this place a long, long time ago, but it has stayed with me since. White walls like Mykonos, but with arched roofs. Stairs, flight after flight leading up to the refuge above the waves. A boat rocking gently at the dock. Seagulls in the sky. You can find a poor and miserable recreation of that memory below. Music is by Drakensson. Use WASD to control the camera. Or, if you can't play a Unity browser game, check out a short video below.
People With Privileged Lifelong Access to Trustworthy Public Institutions Confused Why Anyone Wants Cryptocurrency
Citizens of immensely rich nation-states with historically stable and trustworthy public institutions expressed frustration and anger today at the rapid growth and growing impact of cryptocurrency.
"I just don't understand it all," said Melbourne resident Mary S. "I can go to my bank any time and deposit or withdraw good old-fashioned hard cash, as can literally every other person on the planet. And if you don't have trustworthy institutions around you, you should just wait for your government to make them for you. It's called pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, people!" Mary produced a $20 bill to demonstrate. "This is money you dumb-dumbs. If you don't have any, just remortgage one of your houses with a bank!"
GMTK GameJam 2021 - Cold Weld
This weekend, I did the GMTK Game Jame. It's a 48 hour event where people make games matching a theme. This year's theme was "Joined Together". I made a game called "Cold Weld". I used the little Unity tool I've been tinkering with that I just wrote a post about, voxul.
If you like it and you're reading this before the 21st of June 2021, you can vote on this game here. If you didn't like it, er... forget that last sentence. Play it below: