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.

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  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 9:22am

    Enough Said...

    http://xkcd.com/1425/

    Someone should forward this to this guy... of course he will probably draw the wrong conclusion from it....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 9:30am

    The meaning of is

    Isn't calling a nerd, a nerd, a form of cyberbullying?

    Given the way governments redefine words to mean what they want them to mean, rather than what common usage or even the dictionary says they mean, what are they going to define cyberbullying as? Would telling a snowflake that a warm spell is coming in such a way that it hurts their feelz, count, eventually?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:29am

      Re: The meaning of is

      "Isn't calling a nerd, a nerd, a form of cyberbullying?"

      Nope. But..

      "Some things are not doable, no matter how many nerds you throw at it."

      Throwing nerds at things they can't do IS cruel and unusual punishment, victim-blaming and bad manners all at once. I'm disgusted at TechDirt, they've gone too far this time. If this idea spreads to the wrong parts of the internet then nerds everywhere won't be safe from assault-rifle-wielding self-investigating (sic) nuts from flyover states (cd DC pizzeria attack by idiot).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:39am

        Re: Re: The meaning of is

        Speaking of the pizzeria right-wingnut, let's compare the fake news issue with cyberbullying and sexting. Both require similar "nerding" to stop.

        The delusional nutjobs spreading the fake #pizzagate story include Donald Trump's national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

        And now after the assault-rifle-wielding "self-investigating" incident, his son is sounding the nutjob clarion call, doubling down on the conspiracy theory. The younger Flynn, who has reportedly served as his father’s chief of staff, retweeted a tweet from Jack Posobiec, special projects director for CitizensForTrump.com, who suggested that the gunman was an actor carrying out a “false flag” operation on behalf of the U.S. government.

        No amount of "nerding harder" is going to stop false news when the President-elect, his white supremacist Karl Rove and his nutjob national security advisor is spreading it. But it might have knocked offline any real news site that mentioned Trump's "Grab her by the pussy" and other comments.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:16am

      Re: The meaning of is

      "Given the way governments redefine words"

      What government are you referring to, there are many.
      In many western countries, dictionaries are used that are published by the private sector, not government. Perhaps you think government tells the private sector what to put in their dictionaries, you might want to provide some evidence of this or risk dismissal by others.

      The snowflake reference and subsequent ramblings are indicative of a confused person.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:34am

        Re: Re: The meaning of is

        In many western countries, dictionaries are used that are published by the private sector, not government.

        A dictionary does not define the meaning of words, but rather records the meaning of words as they are used when the editor writes the dictionary entry. Therefore if you have to argue the meaning of words in any document, get a dictionary edition contemporary with the date of the document.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 1:05pm

        Re: Re: The meaning of is

        I'm confused. Wouldn't that depend upon the definition of snowflake? Do you know which one I am using? Which one I mean.

        Or do I mean all of them, and you just don't know how to parse a double or maybe triple entendre?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 9:47am

    I am not bitter but..

    Typical modern politics/management, state how a problem can be solved, and tell those who can solve it to implement the 'solution' you have come up with. When the solution does not arrive, and people complain of interference in their lives, they can blame those who tried to implement their solution, and keep their position and power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:19am

      Re: I am not bitter but..

      "Typical modern politics/management, state how a problem can be solved,"

      And many times they are incorrect.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 9:48am

    So, why don't you legislate, justice and law enforcement harder to extinguish illegal behavior altogether?

    Of course we know that no matter how draconian we go there will always be illegal activities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 9:50am

    I think we watch too much entertainment and believe too many corporate and government lies about how good text and image recognition software is. And to think that your data should be examined after being sent, which this implies, is the height of fuckwittery.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 9:50am

    The Sun

    "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.

    That seems doable. Is this just a semantic concern about whether charred remains would count as "a man"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 9:54am

      Re: The Sun

      Hmmm.. Part of me says we'll be receiving that man back as varied spectrum of energy, including light and heat. So, yes, we can actually send and bring them back!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:19am

      Re: The Sun

      Of course, it is doable. Just plan your landing for the nighttime.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Vikarti Anatra (profile), 8 Dec 2016 @ 11:50pm

      Re: The Sun

      It depends on definition of 'put man on the sun'. /me remembers David Brin's 'Sundiver' novel (except that it required A LOT of new technology even in this world, travel to another star or putting chimpanzee to human intellegence level was EASIER and in the end they just get right above photosphere)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 5 Dec 2016 @ 9:58am

    False positives

    What these people don't realize is that the problem isn't identifying the bullying, or whatever. The real problem is removing false positives.

    I could easily identify 100% of all bullying speech, simply by identifying all speech as bullying. Obviously the false positive rate for this would be rather high and the results not very useful.

    Then, there is the other problem, which even humans cannot solve: it has been laid out in another question: "what is pornography?" The answer has always been: "I'll recognize it when I see it". You can't adequately define pornography, just like you cannot define bullying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:53am

      Re: False positives

      "I could easily identify 100% of all bullying speech, simply by identifying all speech as bullying. Obviously the false positive rate for this would be rather high and the results not very useful. "

      This is absolutely what they want. Of course said filter will only apply to the peons, the important and special will continue to have unlimited access.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:26am

        Re: Re: False positives

        For example, Trump.

        He continuously whines about the media and how they libel him (I doubt he knows what the term means legally) while at the same time tweeting all sorts of bullshit which might actually be libel - I wonder if he knows what hypocrisy means.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:05am

    Today's Winning Irony

    The keyword detection ad manager is currently showing ads for "Sexting for the Modern Man" and "I wanna Sext U Up" beside this article.

    I guess we have another reason to block ads...

    c'mon man - block the "bad" ads!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:25am

    The new first lady will eliminate all cyberbullying

    Isn't the new first lady going to eliminate cyberbullying in all US states which surely must be intended to include the UK, the EU and other unpronouncable polygons on the globe?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TasMot (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:28am

    If they put their minds to it, they can do really smart things

    I'm willing to work on that. Pay me what I deserve for working on the impossible and a budget for 100 of my closest friends to work on it and we will. I mean after all, if we self-identify as nerds and are going to get thrown, we at least deserve a big enough salary for being impugned with labels and sent off to work on an impossible problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    cliff, 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:31am

    We can do it...

    https://youtu.be/BKorP55Aqvg (Seven Red Lines)

    If you've not seen this, see it, it's relevant and entertaining

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:33am

    Turnabout is fair play?

    What would Jeremy Hunt think of this?

    “I think NHS 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 healthcare 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 an agreement that parents choose to put on their healthcare agreement. Because there are pharmaceuticals that can prevent people from desiring to take nude photos.

    “I ask myself why we can’t identify cyberbullying when it happens to people covered by health services, then prevent it happening. I think there are a lot of things where pharmaceutical companies could put features in their medicines 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.”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:47am

    I'll do it

    I am officially volunteering to any government agency reading that I will develop a 100% fool-proof sext/porn block technology that can be used by carriers and ISPs.

    My project time line is 50 years and the invoice will be 17 trillion dollars. I require 50% upfront payment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:58am

    Even if someone can do something it doesn't mean you have the right to demand they do it either. The tech industry are not the gov'ts slaves... yet

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:59am

    Easy self-censor driven solution

    Just set it up that every photo the under-18 individuals send is (without any attempt to determine its nature) CC'd to some very public site, and be sure they know that it does this, and that they cannot change it. Fear of embarrassment will then motivate them not to send the image out to the world. As a bonus, if they send any sexts anyway, you can then charge them for production/distribution of child pornography, because public mortification alone isn't sufficient punishment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:00am

    Tiresome Question

    "...how the hell do modern countries allow people so clueless and ignorant into positions of power?"

    It's called "representative democracy."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:11am

    Nerd Harder?

    Just keep nerding, just keep nerding, just keep nerding...nerding...nerding

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:18am

    oh noes, wait until they find out...

    ...when they ban the relatively harmless sexting, then the dirty little pervs will get together in meatspace and, you know, have a meeting of the meats...
    bound to happen eventually...
    *snicker*
    dog damn, why is it prudes and moral scolds are so-o-o-o concerned with what EVERYONE else does in their private lives ? ? ?
    i really do not give a shit what those control freaks do in their lives, why are they so hellbent on controlling every one elses ? ? ?
    could it be they are the 25% of authoritarian shits ? why, i believe that is so...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:19am

    Once the health department has the magic immunization shot to prevent all diseases, the new filter will be ready to automagically block unwanted content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:49am

    he was as clueless in his previous appointment but must be a very good example of how Bullshit Baffles Brain because he just changed hats, got another position and carried on to screw up this position!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 2:51pm

    Eliminate bullys

    By eliminating the cause, those that believe they have the god given right to use violence against others without consequence or put another way, people like Mr. Hunt.

    The state exists to monopolize violence for the convenience of the very few.

    Pretty sure that is a good definition of bully

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 3:18pm

    “For example, I just ask myself"

    Uhh.. you're asking the wrong person!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tom Jacobs, 5 Dec 2016 @ 3:38pm

    cyberbullying

    Take a look at "Teen Cyberbullying Investigated" from Free Spirit Publishing for real-life stories of teenagers in the juvenile justice system for their posts, tweets, sext messages, and other digital behaviors. Learn from their brushes with the law about online etiquette and avoid getting a record that will follow you into adulthood. --Judge Tom

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 4:23pm

    Word recognition? Not a problem. Bullies will simply revert to common words and pointed remarks as insults and either render the whole scheme pointless, or force the entire Oxford dictionary to be added to the list.

    Do these people not think before they speak? There's a mental health problem here, all right, and it's not the teenagers who have it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 5 Dec 2016 @ 4:34pm

    You first

    Mr. Health Secretary Hunt, sir: We are a few random nerds and we're willing to assess your mental health. I'm afraid the outcome is likely a bit dodgy...but--hey--it's all in your better interests. Okay?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sambo, 5 Dec 2016 @ 5:28pm

    Hmmmm.

    "“There is a lot of evidence that the technology industry, if they put their mind to it, can do really smart things"

    Alas the same can not be said for politicians....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous UK Resident #5424743871, 5 Dec 2016 @ 7:02pm

    *derisive snort*

    there is technology that can identify sexually explicit pictures

    Yes, it can identify many non-explicit things as sexually explicit pictures.

    Supposedly (never found out for sure if it's true) even [low-cost airline] Easyjet's website has been blocked by an overzealous porn filter in the past, because their colour scheme contains a lot of orange. Which apparently is somehow a skin tone.

    These idiots need to stop watching NCIS or Scorpion or whatever is it they base their delusions on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 7:19pm

    It's really easy to declare there's a solution to a problem. So long as you don't have to find and implement the solution.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 10:04pm

    Simple answer

    when someone tells me "nerd harder", I tell them "It's not a case of me nerding harder, it's a case of you should be working smarter, not harder. It's the new normal."

    Does seem to rile them up some.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 6 Dec 2016 @ 7:43am

    http://38degreesmanchester.org.uk/blog/how-private-enterprise-takes-other-peoples-money/

    Jeremy "Disaster Area" Hunt is indeed the Minister for Health but he's a total prat obsessed with privatisation. He's been advocating for a US-style system (no, thank you) for a while.

    While he pretends to care about the NHS he's actually running it down so he can sell it off piecemeal to his friends. Virgin Healthcare has won major contracts taking over some of the healthcare trusts, which are basically stepping stones to privatisation.

    http://www.nhsforsale.info/private-providers/private-provider-profiles-2/virgin.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2016 @ 5:28pm

    If scientists put their mind to it, they can travel faster than light. It's really easy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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