Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Big Data As Techno-Immortalization Strategy

Edited and adapted from an exchange with my friend Jim in the Moot:
Well, according to at least one prominent transhumanist, you won't even need to bother with a copy of the guy's brain. Just collect enough photographs, report cards, yearbooks, audio/video recordings, blog postings, twitter postings, etc. and you can cook up an AI simulacrum (tweaked from some kind of generic baseline human simulation, with various dials adjusted for intelligence, personality traits, temperament, etc.) that's a good enough copy (for the consumer of such a thing, if not for the original, who after all won't have any say in the matter). Hey, it's already been done on TV...
It cracks me up that Martine Rothblatt and the other robocultists making this case are more or less promising that Big Data will make us immortal cyberangels in Holodeck Heaven. It's bad enough when neocons promise Big Data will keep us safe from the terrorist hordes, but deliver us eternal life is some serious moonshine overpromising. Worried Big Data surveillance and algorithms target us for incessant harassment from advertisers? Worried Big Data profiles us in ways that determine who gets a home loan, who gets to go to college, who gets on a watchlist, eventually frames us all as prosecutable in advance for crimes not necessarily yet known? Worried Big Data not only does not "make us safe" but renders us utterly precarious and endlessly exploitable and eventually, if we really prove to be nuisances to incumbent elites, expendable or extra-judicially killable by drone? Don't worry, be happy! Hey, who am I after all to call keep calling visionary transhumanists reactionary, right? 


jimf said...

> It's bad enough when neocons promise Big Data will keep
> us safe from the terrorist hordes, but deliver us eternal
> life is some serious moonshine overpromising.

Big Data as statistical masturbation

via your blog roll)

jollyspaniard said...

There's a brilliant episode of Black Mirror where a woman gets an android version of her dead husband based on just such an idea. But her husband secretly loved the Bee Gees yet the android hates them. And her husband was sometimes a dud in bed but her android is creepily porn star pneumatic.

Dale Carrico said...

Somehow I have never watched that series.

jimf said...

> Somehow I have never watched that series.

The episode's on YouTube:

_Black Mirror_, "Be Right Back"
(with Domnhall Gleeson, who more recently was
"Caleb Smith" in last summer's _Ex Machina_)

It's not particularly cheerful. (The series' first
episode, "The National Anthem", is also a must watch.
Not something that could ever be aired on US TV. )

jimf said...

> Also a must-see: _Black Mirror_, "The National Anthem"

Particularly amusing in light of a bit of this week's news:
The Internet’s Loop of Action and Reaction Is Worsening
Farhad Manjoo
DEC. 9, 2015

Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton said this week that we
should think about shutting down parts of the Internet to
stop terrorist groups from inspiring and recruiting followers
in distant lands. Mr. Trump even suggested an expert
who’d be perfect for the job: “We have to go see Bill Gates
and a lot of different people that really understand
what’s happening, and we have to talk to them — maybe,
in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way...”

Prime Minister: This can't go wide. And keep it so far from
the press it's on the other side of Jupiter. This only exists
in this room.

Young male Whitehall aide: It's already outside it.

Prime Minister: Well if there are hacks sniffing around,
shut them down. Bright red D notice. Super fucking Godzilla
injunction with ten-inch Whitehall fangs.

Old male Whitehall aide: This video came from YouTube.

Prime Minister: What?

Young male Whitehall aide: It was uploaded via an encrypted IP
over an hour ago.

Prime Minister: Well get it off, then!

Old male Whitehall aide: We did, after nine minutes. But that
was long enough for it to be downloaded, duplicated, and spread.

Prime Minister: Spread? How many people have seen this?

Old Whitehall aide: We take down one, six clones immediately
pop up elsewhere.

Prime Minister: How many people?

Young male Whitehall aide: Fifty thousand, that's our current

Young male Whitehall aide: The newsrooms have got it.

Prime Minister: They're running this on air?

Female Whitehall aide: No, no. We put a tight 5-D notice
out immediately. And they're complying.

Male Whitehall aide: For now.

Male whitehall aide: It's trending on Twitter.

Prime Minister: Oh, fucking internet!

. . .

Male reporter: So how do we even describe it? An indecent

Female reporter: Everyone's seen the video. They already know
the full details. . .

Editor: We're still observing the D notice.

Female reporter:

Editor: We're **honoring** the D notice.

Female reporter: The **voluntary** D notice.

Editor: It may be a sportsmanlike gesture, but we're making it.
A woman's life is at stake here, we follow procedure.

Female reporter: My timeline consists 100% of viewers asking
why we're not covering it. How do I reply?

Editor: You **don't**.

Female reporter: Yeah, that is totally backwards.

Editor: No one else has broken rank. Not the Beeb, not
Sky, not. . .

Male reporter: I hear Facebook's coverage is pretty comprehensive.

Editor: That may be, but. . .

Female reporter: It's like 9/11's happening and we're broadcasting
sandwich recipes.

Editor: We're **not** a chat room.

Entering male reporter: It's on CNN. And Fox. And MSNBC,
Al Jazeera, NHK. . .

Editor: All right! Oh God, this planet! . . .