Apologies, if you have come here
looking for 7 acts of sickening violence, involving puppies… click here
because not a single puppy
has been abused
other than by my appropriation of their (that is
their – the puppies’s) noun
in order to create click bait.
And if you’re going to take offence at this then please do
go all the way.
I knew what I was doing.
I knew the risk.
Make the calls to Google for my ex-communication,
get me struck off facebook.
Go on tv to never speak of me again,
or of my book launch.
Make me famous.
See what I did there?
Or you can listen up…
You are listening to episode 13 of COW – can of worms – the podcast
This episode a personal journey
through the world of AI,
its development and its consequences.
Tracing the ethical issues facing those who recognise
the dangers of having our primary system of communication,
that is the internet,
in the hands of a sophisticated
and manipulating monopoly
and the problems faced by the likes of anyone,
required to try and make a living through it.
How does that work?
Is it OK to be involved with the system?
Is there any acceptable level of complicity?
And if so,
So what is it?
To be honest, I have a certain level of surprise that you’ve even seen this title.
And that this post hasn’t been taken down, or restricted
for obvious reasons.
There’s more than a bit of irony in the fact that the algorithims
responsible for a trend towards extremist content
are also being put under pressure to censor it,
but we’ll come to that later
Firstly a number of comments from last week.
Thanks everyone for your time,
thanks for listening,
and of course for your support.
And yes I had a question – which was
Turns out that thinking about that brought up all sorts of issues
and spawned the above title.
So I thought I’d answer it here.
Behind the question is the fact
that eventually I want to be able to support myself through this podcasting,
this philosophising, thinking malarkey –
or racket even…
Choosing my words carefully of course!
So the question “what’s next?”
does bring up a can of worms.
like “how do you grow the business?”
A question of commerce…
And also “how far will you go?”
Now, I guess there are a few out there who
simply think this as a radio show
and that’s all good!
And you might be thinking
“Waddya mean? Business?”
And that’s cool but
If any of you are familiar with the term digital nomad, you’ll get it already I guess.
With this podcast the idea
is that you can get enough people to appreciate what you’re doing,
to support you with the price of a cup of coffee every month
and that way you can go on and produce your content
without the worry of working for the man
just to support it.
This is dream job time,
but its the high stakes holy grail version of it
and based on providing real value.
This is the sort of thing you might see in an ad somewhere.
It’ll be a bloke or a girl
on the beach
telling you they can live anywhere in the world
and the money just pours in whilst they do nothing.
That’s the ad
rather than the reality
but that’s the way its portrayed.
Self employment really, tech savvy,
cheap to set up, and effortless once its done.
But hopefully its not without value.
Now there is a struggle…
If like me you want to make a difference,
want to be doing the right thing.
if you want to have an ethical base
to your income
and your life.
If you believe that the world is more than just a bit broken
and you’re one of these to put your money where your mouth is,
to live by your word as it were,
then you have to make some pretty hard decisions.
You’ll know this.
Minimise your footprint,
Dump the possessions
Leave the attachments
that keep you trapped in the day to day humdrum.
For, on the other side, a reward of
and a nomadic existence…
One man’s ties are another man’s freedoms –
Job security, Family, Expectations, Social liabilities even,
Seems a mad choice,
a no brainer maybe.
The problem is if like me,
you might be tempted to overthink things
then the ethical struggle doesn’t really go away
whatever path you choose.
This is about our complicity in the system.
Its a question of
whether we take part in the game.
and if we do its about
judging whether you become part of the problem.
How deeply can you get into the system
without becoming corrupted by it.
Is it possible to be part of the solution
whilst contributing to it.
Its the starving artist,
in the garret again,
unable to take commissions
for fear of destroying the purity of the art.
Its about whether you can moan about the system
and take from it at the same time.
is increasing the audience,
monetising the work.
Its selling out.
Bloody socialist… go back to russia.
Oh look! Complaining about land ownership
and living in a house!
Oh look thinks we should look after the environment
but look, here’s a photograph of a plastic carrier bag he only used once.
That’s him there putting it in a bin!
Go back to Russia you Communist bastard.
You and your red flag…
We don’t need you telling us what to do..!
I think Stuart Lee there!
But it’s not just that really, is it?
There are far harder critics found at home.
And usually no worse critic than yourself.
Can I live with that?
Because as soon as you begin to make an impact
that is going to be the charge…
And its a classic propagandist tactic
used against protest time and time again.
Hey, I’m not suffering
None of that
Turns out that for me being in charge of myself
Was the key…
The key to..?
It is the existential key,
the key really to the only question.
and I’m OK with the idea of what I’m doing,
What I’m trying to achieve.
and I’m OK with how much I choose to engage
with this broken system.
And I’m OK with myself,
trust that my heart is in the right place,
even if I don’t get everything right.
Yeah, I’d up and leave the UK,
drive from London to New York,
Around the Coast of the Med and yeah
and I’d fund it on the back of
this veneer of social activism.
But I believe in this.
Think there’s some value to it…
And its no bad example
of how to live…
of what’s possible…
I can happily cling to the vague hope that it might be of interest
to a fair number of interested people
That its of some use,
and that I’m providing some value
in return for fair exchange.
with the system
just starts to get a little deeper
a little bit more pronounced
as I develop this thing.
here I am some few months in.
And slow burning.
Some financial support coming in even.
So the system begins to work!
Tan tan tan…
And the question does come to mind…
How does one grow this kind of business?
Well my answer, first of all
is that this slow burn is suiting me pretty good.
The work, the research
And I’m developing my voice,
I guess to get abstract I mean
I’m developing the landscape of the podcast
like a philosophical manifesto?
And each time I feel it’s getting better,
And making more sense.
Turns out as I’m talking about things that come to me
pretty much as they come to me…
what you get can sometimes be pretty raw,
but I think the more I am doing this I think the better its feeling
It’s feeling more of a whole,
more structured, more complete
and that’s what I mean by finding my voice…
immediate next is to
consolidate it all.
Pretty good achievement so far but always
Get better, stronger and develop a good body of work,
And that out of the way.
When I feel I’m nailing that with some value
Then medium term next?
That’s when to develop the business,
as some would have it,
It’s how to get it out there,
how to to develop the audience…
and that is the real struggle…
ethically, and morally.
And why should that be a struggle?
Well, the struggle is that to do it you have to,
it seems, use
the same formulaic tactics
that the likes of youtube, netflix, and facebook,
and instagram all use…
To put it simply I have to find the right audience.
Maybe I could do that with a bit of public speaking,
And a book!
Drawing an audience in that way
but mainly its going to be using
Exactly the kind of tactics that I keep shouting out.
Keep telling people to be aware of.
Hey, Get back to Russia, you commie…
You Russian conspiracy bastard, person
We don’t need you coming to us warning us about the dangers of
We love them.
And you, we saw you, we took a picture of you
And you bought some bread
Get out get out…
Hey, look Podcasting did seem pretty cutting edge
even as much as a year ago,
but its taken on the same characteristics
as the rest of the web.
Become the latest mainstream!
What with the BBC getting into it
and Google themselves getting involved.
You have footballers, pop stars,
actors and all kinds of celebrity getting involved.
It was mainly an iTunes thing previously,
a little bit nerdy, a little bit left field.
Only last year I think did google recognise it as a thing even,
with its own category.
You still can’t officially register a podcast with google from the UK.
Podcasts in the US are available through Google Play
You can hack it and use a VPN but
I don’t think I want to talk about that
Its US only for Google Play, its that new.
And of course you have
a myriad of android apps to choose from
and the website!
cowthepodcast.online is mine!
but now BBC of course have made their own app!
Just saying that now
the podcasting world is less
Wild Wild West
Eric and Ernie…
Less Mr Robot,
more Robbie the Robot.
And we sort of have AI to blame.
Which means we have ourselves to blame.
Because we asked AI to do make things easier for us.
Why do I have to embrace the world of evil manipulation?
Because that’s the way of it.
Its to compete.
I have to compete for your attention…
I am drawn to some form of slow burn.
Slow growth etc
But against the likes of Google, and Facebook and YouTube.
there is a battle now for our attention,
Its a weird space where
not only are they in the battle,
but they write the rules,
And they control access to it.
Look, it used to be that searching Google for stuff
could be hard work,
so many results to choose from,
so much to sift through,
and no way to know what sources we could trust,
as the recent narrative goes.
In those days I always used to treat the internet
a bit like walking down a new high street.
If someone came up and offered me some deal
too good to be true?
Yeah! Turn it down.
And it was the same thing with Ebay,
and other platforms I guess.
I saw it first through eBay
cos I was quite strongly involved in the early days.
In the beginning eBay was a pretty simple platform for enthusiasts,
Like the wild west.
it was more about the bid,
and the winning,
and just nipping in to snipe an auction at the right moment,
judging how long it would take to hit the ebay servers
with your last bid,
and placing it at the last millisecond.
It was a buzz.
More about that
than it was about capturing the cheapest deal.
We always tell ourselves we have the best deal anyway..
Do you know anyone who’s spent 3 hours choosing a new phone contract
comes out saying they’ve been ripped off?
Back to eBay –
There were loyal followers
who would spend their days tracking items,
like man the hunter,
and there were sellers
formed out of it.
Pioneers, new enterprises,
vibrant and thriving.
Same thing with YouTube,
just following their bliss
for want of a better phrase
and getting picked up by interested parties
millions of followers,
who had found them by word of mouth,
or by trawling through the dodgy search results,
hard work we thought!
At that time web designers made sites sticky,
to provide value and to hold your attention.
There was a drive for quality,
shared by the pioneers,
Content was King.
Now google back in the day
had become number one search engine,
worth millions and millions.
Just in case you don’t remember
there were other search engines…
Ask Jeeves, Alta Vista,
But Google came to dominate.
They were worth millions.
At the time the chief executive came out with a mission statement
promising user quality I guess
when he said that
Google’s mission was to get people off to a new web page as quickly as possible.
Totally against the run of the mainstream at the time but brilliant.
Flipping all of the metrics on their head
Users wanted convenience
to be shown the best option
as quick as possible.
And all of a sudden terms like relevance and trust
and price and postage and postcode
and many other factors
began to make sense.
Enter the algoritihim…
designed to take all of those factors
and make sense of them
away from you,
in the name of convenience.
The algorithims evolved
And the platforms evolved.
What I think was a surprise was how the content evolved.
What happened next was a feedback loop
where the users started to compete for the top spot.
This meant competing to be closest to the algorithim’s
notion of best match for a search.
Nothing really sinister here until we realise that
we now have everybody on the platform aiming at producing the same thing.
Essentially defining a single set of rules for fitness, promoted convergent evolution.
Everyone competes for the same title,
the same quality of picture,
the same bare bones description, Nothing irelevant.
I see it as a peak,
everyone aims to get to the same peak.
And you may be fit enough to reach that peak.
In evolutionary biology, convergent evolution is the process whereby organisms not closely related, independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.
Eyes, are an example
In an octopus and in the eyes of a human
We are related only through organisms that had no eyes.
We branched off and developed eyes separately,
becoming similar as fitness became more defined.
What this means for us in the world of communications
is that because our environment
is defined by only a few players
we all converge on a single point.
One viral video in fact looks very much like any other viral video.
and diversity suffers.
Example is that once an eBay listing for example,
or a YouTube Video,
Or a web page for Google gains dominance,
it won’t be shifted, unless something within the content changes.
And by that I mean a slip in postage delivery rate.
Content now bears little relation to relevance.
Once it does however it will be replaced with its nearest clone.
As my nearest and dearest says creating
One way to think of this in terms of the Sat Nav and the salmon…
If the salmon returns to its birthplace to breed,
then how come the breeding grounds are so widely distributed.
Maybe they got lost.
And now Sat Nav is available
We need never get lost.
But It leaves us only one stream to breed in.
When there are thousands of other beautiful streams we should explore.
This is how eBay evolved,
how YouTube evolved
and how Google and many other platforms
have evolved having employed AI.
The latest development in this story,
has been with the story of social media,
designed specifically to make the most
of our basest instincts.
Designed to hijack our minds
by creating an addictive bond to our smart phones
Designed to sit in your hand
to demand your attention,
occupy your thoughts,
and create new habits – on purpose.
As I’m writing this I have my phone next to me,
flashing away every now and then…
And facebook, youtube, twitter
whatever the new one is
all fully aware of this battle.
As I mentioned earlier,
the battle for attention…
The more attention they can command
they are valued.
Again the same pressure to hit the top spot,
the pressure is to do it again and again and again
and a greater demand for the next sensation.
YouTube wants to keep the viewer hooked.
Along comes the recommended video sidebar.
This is the kicker.
AI realises that to keep you hooked
it just needs to put something a little more juicy up.
And something more juicy for a human viewer
it seems turns out to be something more extreme.
Of course we’re not looking at any kind of facts check,
and we’re not looking at what will likely benefit society,
we’re not judging the quality of the argument
or the beauty of the writing
because that’s not what gets people addicted.
YouTube, facebook etc whoever it is
will take everything they know,
about you, and people with similar behaviour,
people who have searched similar phrases,
watched similar videos,
bought similar products
and then feed it back to you,
in the form of the next recommendation,
slightly more engaging,
more likely to keep you hooked.
And they don’t need to know everything about you to do it.
They only need to know you better than you know yourself for it to work.
This in effect creates a demand for sensationalism.
And as I’ve pointed out attempts to keep all of the salmon
in the same mainstream
And it is very dangerous because we need the explorers, the chance, the mistakes.
My point I guess
is that what I’m trying to do is to reach an audience of
like minded supporters who are savvy to this,
who understand how the game is played,
and understand how we are forced to play it.
What it means in practice
is that whilst I would prefer to keep my content
slow burn and sustainable,
expect to see some shorter posts,
some more sensationalist titles,
I could for example congratulate Liam Neeson
on coming clean over his taboo thoughts recently.
Which I do.
He admitted that he had been subconsciously racist, and violently so,
but made clear that he had consciously overcome the problem.
This is what we as humans do.
It is how we function,
It was a simple explanation of the battle
we all have,
between our subconscious monkey brain
and our will,
our power to consciously over ride base feelings
for sacrifice, for individual gain or for social benefit.
This is the whole point about how we can join a new conversation
if we are able to manage our baser feelings,
and a great example of how encouraging sensationalism is dangerous.
Encouraging sensationalism encourages the knee jerk reaction,
depends upon it,
and our addiction to it,
deflects us from being able to debate effectively.
We are not interested in resolution,
We just need a bigger hit!
Look at the reaction he provoked.
This is a man, being open about his feelings,
a man raised on the troubles in Ireland,
this is a man who has the right to talk about
trauma, who was raised on violence and terror
who’d survived all of that.
Nearly destroyed by his own confession,
nearly broken by our need for excited,
Thankfully got away with it,
because for a while it looked like he would never work again.
And he has a particular set of skills.
What I might end up doing of course is exploiting this stuff.
Expect the following titles. Here we go.
Julian Assange – War Criminal
How racism will save the planet…
Top 10 Reasons Women Demand War,
Trump Blunder Reveals Russian Puppet Master
7 acts of sickening violence, involving puppies… click here
The secret sins of Jordan Peterson
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (29) revealed
If you have any let me know…
Any help much appreciated!
As I say slow burn works for me.
Got to try and keep that balance,
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