UK's Health Secretary Has The Solution To Cyberbullying & Sexting: Nerds Should Nerd Harder
from the how-are-these-people-in-power? dept
It appears that the “nerd harder” disease has spread across the Atlantic, and none other than the UK’s Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has caught it. In discussing the (frequently overhyped, but still real) issues of cyberbullying and sexting, Hunt has decided that it’s no problem at all, because the nerds can put their minds to it and magically block it:
?I think social media companies need to step up to the plate and show us how they can be the solution to the issue of mental ill health amongst teenagers, and not the cause of the problem,? he said. ?There is a lot of evidence that the technology industry, if they put their mind to it, can do really smart things.
?For example, I just ask myself the simple question as to why it is that you can?t prevent the texting of sexually explicit images by people under the age of 18, if that?s a lock that parents choose to put on a mobile phone contract. Because there is technology that can identify sexually explicit pictures and prevent it being transmitted.
?I ask myself why we can?t identify cyberbullying when it happens on social media platforms by word pattern recognition, and then prevent it happening. I think there are a lot of things where social media companies could put options in their software that could reduce the risks associated with social media, and I do think that is something which they should actively pursue in a way that hasn?t happened to date.?
And I ask myself, how the hell do modern countries allow people so clueless and ignorant into positions of power? How can it possibly be that someone with this much power and authority can’t understand that context matters and that calling for outright censorship without context would be a disaster? It’s the very epitome of the “nerd harder, nerds” plan that comes up so often. “If they put their minds to it, they can do really smart things.”
It feels like all of these powerful people have internalized the flipside of the famed Arthur C. Clarke quote about how “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and interpreted it to mean “tech can do magical things.” But as cryptographer Matt Blaze famously noted, ignorant officials saying “surely if we can put a man on the moon we can do this” is like saying “surely if we can put a man on the moon, we can put a man on the sun.” Some things are not doable, no matter how many nerds you throw at it.
You’d think that people in charge of, say, the healthcare of a nation, might at least recognize when they’re too ignorant to understand the difference between the possible but difficult, and the impossible. Apparently not.