Techdirt

by Leigh Beadon




Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the not-so-silent-night dept

This week, we wrote (as we have many times) about the huge challenge of moderating online content and how it's unrealistic to expect social media companies to be magically perfect at it. One commenter insisted we were wrong, making the strange comparison to a bouncer at a bar, and an anonymous response won first place for insightful:

You have absolutely no idea of the scale difference between a bar where a few dozen people, or even a few hundred visit in one night and social platforms where thousands of accounts are created every minute.

In second place, we've got Roger Strong responding to Marsha Blackburn's "net neutrality" bill with some well-chosen additional material:

Wikipedia: Marsha Blackburn: Telecommunications

Blackburn has been closely associated with the telecommunications industry over the course of her career, as of 2017, Blackburn had accepted at least $693,000 in campaign contributions from telecom companies over her 14-year career in Congress.

Blackburn is an opponent of net neutrality in the United States, referring to it as "socialistic".

Blackburn opposes municipal broadband initiatives that aim to compete with Internet service providers.

She supported bills that restrict municipalities from creating their own broadband networks, and wrote a bill to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from pre-empting state laws that blocked municipal broadband.

In early 2017, Blackburn introduced to the House a measure to dismantle an Obama-administration online privacy rule that had been adopted by the FCC in October 2016. Blackburn's measure, which was supported by broadband providers but criticized by privacy advocates, repealed the rule which required broadband providers to obtain consumers' permission before sharing their online data, including browsing histories.

The measure passed the House in a party-line vote in March 2017, after a similar measure had been passed by the Senate the same week. She subsequently proposed legislation which expanded the requirement to include internet companies as well as broadband providers.

Also a climate change denier, anti-civil rights, a reliable source of anti-Obamacare wingnuttery, and a border wall and Muslim ban supporter.

In her defence, there's no word on her being banned from any shopping malls.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from An Onymous Coward providing a more detailed explanation of why policing social media ain't so easy:

You're not a software engineer so you can be forgiven for not knowing what follows. But you cannot be forgiven for pushing an agenda based on false and incomplete information then abusing your opposition from that ultimately flawed platform. Read on and educate yourself:

Twitter handles millions of tweets every day. Processing that amount of information is not something you can hire enough people to do in a manner that results in those tweets reaching their audience in anything less than several hours and at a cost that would cripple the company. No, this kind of thing must be automated.

Computers do not think. They don't reason and they don't have any capacity to be "subjective". There is a lot of software out there now that seems somewhat "intelligent" and "reasoned" but it isn't. It's pure algorithm and even the best AI is still following a script of sorts. We have not developed the computer that can independently think like a human and accurately determine, in just a few milliseconds, which tweets should be published and which should not.

Even humans would mess this up with alarming regularity. 140 characters is too little context to understand every message. Often you have to know that user's tweet history, the culture where they live and numerous other factors to determine with any degree of accuracy whether any given message should be posted.

We are nowhere near the technological level required to emulate a flawed room full of human reviewers much less improve upon them.

tl;dr You have no idea what you're talking about. Please go away and let the adults talk.

Next, we've got an anonymous response to the strained defense of the cop who shut off his dashcam during a drug dog search:

I would submit here that the something like 50% of the entire purpose for the existence of standard cops is the collection of evidence. They aren't there for prosecuting criminals, that's what district attorney's are for. They aren't there for determining guilt, that's what courts are for. They are there for collecting evidence (and then carrying out warrants based on that evidence), and acting as first responders in issues of public safety.

So when a cop deliberately fails to collect evidence, then what exactly is he doing? There was no public safety issue here, meaning the only thing he should have been doing was collecting evidence of criminal activity. Except he deliberately avoided doing that.

The police did not do their job here. In fact, they specifically avoided doing their job. They stood up and said "Right now, we are attempting to gather evidence that can be presented to the courts/prosecutors. So we are going to go around and turn off all of our evidence gathering devices. Because the best way to collect evidence for the court is to deliberately not collect any evidence at all."

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is, amusingly, a response to one of last week's winners via last week's comment post. Got that? Here's David taking the joke one step further:

Missing crucial information

In totally unrelated news, Verizon announced today that its next round of infrastructure investment would extend service to over two million new subscribers, all over the United States, in alphabetical order. Many, perhaps most, of these subscribers, the spokesperson emphasized, are still alive.

Will that also be the case by the time the service arrives?

In second place, we've got a nice solid joke from charliebrown in response to retailer Five Below's attack on an ice cream shop with a similar name:

I think they're just upset because 10 below is cooler

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of responses to the latest developments in a lawsuit over a Star Trek/Dr. Seuss mashup. First, it's That Anonymous Coward celebrating this triumph for the rights of the creator:

I am happy to see the estate prevail!

Now as soon as they can bring Dr. Seuss back from the DEAD he can enter into negotiations with Paramount to perhaps produce a Seussian Star Trek book.

And finally, we've got Ryunouske gamely taking on the obligatory Seussian translation:

TLDR this article

We will take you to court.
we will also claim our tort.
You cannot use our Trek.
Without cutting us a big fat cheque.

You cannot claim Fair Use.
for our definition is very loose.
We have thrown money at our Judge.
On our claims, we will not budge.

We will continue to sue.
Even if it looks like a zoo.
We will have our money.
Because rhyming is our honey.

That's all for this week, folks!


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  • identicon
    David, 23 Dec 2017 @ 3:15pm

    "Seussian translation"

    I really wish that the people trying to channel Seuss would learn the basics of metres or even just be able to count syllables. For bonus points, the people voting on those ... things should learn about them as well.

    The whole point is that it is carefully and artfully done silliness. That's what makes it compelling.

    Whether we are talking about The Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, or The Cat in the Hat.

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

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 23 Dec 2017 @ 7:08pm

      Re: "Seussian translation"

      In addition to meter and syllable count, scansion and rhyme are important, too - and I suspect that many people who attempt such pieces have never so much as encountered the word "scansion".

      (The rhymes are fine in the example currently at hand, but I've seen too many attempts here where they aren't.)

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

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Dec 2017 @ 8:30pm

        Re: Re: "Seussian translation"

        Fascinating. I had never heard of the word scansion before. Thank you for the elucidation.

        However, you seem to be repeating yourself. Merriam-Webster defines scansion as:

        Definition of scansion

        : the analysis of verse to show its meter

        NEW! Time Traveler

        First Known Use: 1671

        So, while I agree with you, meter, syllable count and rhyme can be important, there seems to be a significant similarity to scansion and meter, as one appears to be the measure of the other.

        On the other hand, there are apparently many kinds of verse, some of which rhyme, some of which don't, some of which have a specific meter, and some that don't. Some of us don't use 'rules' for verse (as apposed to prose, which has different and also flexible rules) as in free verse... etc..and et al.

        For me, quality of writing comes from my ability to comprehend what the writer is saying as well as the expressive ability for them to get their point across. If they do it in meter, and/or rhyme that may or may not make it more comprehensible/enjoyable, but it may just also make it contemporaneous, as in this case where the author stylized another writer, and did not fail to make that stylization known, but also got their point across.

        Now as to the content of writing, well that is another subject entirely. For me, what the writer has to say has a lot to do with whether I finish reading their spiel. If they start out making sense, I finish. If they don't, I don't. I pick up some books and read a chapter or two and put them down and never pick them up again. Other books confuse the hell out of me, but I read them to the end simply because the author has found a way to capture my attention, and in the end most of the time my understanding. Then again, I have read several Umberto Eco novels multiple times, and am still seeking...something. Still, they are beautiful reads.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2017 @ 8:58pm

          Re: Re: Re: "Seussian translation"

          "NEW! Time Traveler"?

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

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 24 Dec 2017 @ 4:41am

          Re: Re: Re: "Seussian translation"

          I may be off, but my understanding of scansion is that it's more "the mapping between the syllables of a piece and the meter of that piece" than either syllable count or meter itself.

          If you need to put the emphasis on e.g. every third syllable, but the words used are such that it's awkward or near-impossible to do this without breaking either rhyme or the flow of delivery (e.g. because of the relative placement of word breaks), that I would call poor scansion. (It goes well beyond that, but simplistic as it is, that's about the best example I can bring to mind at the moment.)

          Certainly it is possible to compose good pieces which don't care about scansion, et cetera. It's just that when you're attempting to compose in existing form - whether iambic pentameter, limerick, haiku, or the style of Dr. Seuss - the structure of that form is comparatively fixed, and if scansion mattered in the original form it has to matter in the new composition.

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

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 23 Dec 2017 @ 10:02pm

      Re: "Seussian translation"

      Oh come on, think about what you're saying. If Ryunouske were to actually "channel Seuss", and be in metre, the Seuss estate would file an infringement suit.

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

    • identicon
      Anoelymous Coward, 24 Dec 2017 @ 2:47pm

      Re: "Seussian translation"

      There was a young man from Japan
      Whose limericks never would scan.
      When asked why that was,
      He replied "It's because
      I always try to cram as many words into the last line as ever I possibly can."

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

  • identicon
    An Ominous Cow Herd, 24 Dec 2017 @ 12:24pm

    AI and Bias

    Regarding the policing of social media, there is another factor to consider when using humans to do it and that is bias. So not only would you have mistakes being made on a fairly regular basis, because humans are far from perfect, you'd also wind up with a lot of content being blocked that shouldn't be.

    AI wouldn't be any better IMHO. In order to do the job of a human, AI must think and act like a human. Thus you end up running into all of the same problems if you were to use humans, which we already know is impossible due the sheer number of people that would be required and therefore the prohibitive cost inevitably involved with such an endeavor.

    Speaking of bias, I wonder what types a true AI would develop? Like I said, the goal behind AI is to create something that is indistinguishable from a human (i.e. it has to pass the turing test, for starters). Any AI that can't is considered a fail, which I think only bolsters my argument that AI would be about as useful as employing a whole lot of people.

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 24 Dec 2017 @ 2:34pm

      Re: AI and Bias

      _ I wonder what types a true AI would develop? _

      A bias against analyzing and policing human behavior for other humans? Boooorrrriiiinnnggg.

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

      • identicon
        Digitari, 25 Dec 2017 @ 8:34am

        Re: Re: AI and Bias

        Bender says "kiss my shiny metal ass"


        We already know where the bias is headed.

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

        • icon
          Seegras (profile), 25 Dec 2017 @ 1:30pm

          Re: Re: Re: AI and Bias

          The more interesting question is, how criminal will the first true AI be?

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

          • icon
            Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Dec 2017 @ 2:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: AI and Bias

            Or, of more interest, how AI will interpret morality (depending on the creators (of the AI that is) perspective of morality). Will it include religion, and if so which religion, will it include laws, and if so who's law's, and will it include a sense of right and wrong, and if so, who's definition of right and wrong?

            Then there is Asimov's three laws. Will they be included, and how will they be interpreted? If the Terminators conception of Skynet is developed would any of the above rules be interpreted, or actually followed?

            Conundrums abound. The answers exists in the future, but will the future actually include sentient beings (aka humans or some other form of advanced being)?

            So long as we are at it, how about parallel universes or other dimensions?

            Any concepts I haven't mentioned?

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

            • identicon
              Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 25 Dec 2017 @ 3:00pm

              Re: how AI will interpret morality ... Will it include religion ...

              The obvious answer is to interpret morality the way the medical profession does -- in terms of minimization of harm.

              Since religion is directly opposed to this, it should be left out.

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


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