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Speech Impairment

Smart Speakers and Speech Impairment (
A human assistant would know how to deal with stuttering, dialects, or even just the need to repeat a part of a sentence you got wrong. None of the modern digital assistants currently goes beyond being a slightly humanized command line activated by voice, and I wonder who will get there first.
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Bringing Out the Worst In Us

Image CC0 via Unsplash
How technology is designed to bring out the worst in us by Ezra Klein (Vox)
Tristan Harris:

Outrage just spreads faster than something that’s not outrage.

When you open up the blue Facebook icon, you’re activating the AI, which tries to figure out the perfect thing it can show you that’ll engage you. It doesn’t have any intelligence, except figuring out what gets the most clicks. The outrage stuff gets the most clicks, so it puts that at the top.

Then it learns there’s this magic keyword where if any article had this keyword and you put it at the top of the feed, it would always get a click or a share. And that keyword was “Trump.” If you’re just a naive computer, you put this keyword in front of people and they always click it. It’s reinforcing that this is the thing that should go to the top of the feed.

I look at technology through the lens of persuasion and how it persuades the human animal. What does seeing a repeated set of things that make you outraged do to you? You can feel it when it happens. I think of it as civilization mind control. It’s not that there’s someone who’s deliberately trying to make us all outraged. It’s that 2 billion people, from the moment they wake up in the morning, are basically jacked into an environment, where if you’re a teenager, the first thing you see are photo after photo of your friends having fun without you. That does something to all those human animals. If the first thing you do when your eyes open is see Twitter and there’s a bunch of stuff to be outraged about, that’s going to do something to you on an animal level.

I think what we have to reckon with is how is this affecting us on a deeper level.

This is one of the reasons why I no longer “surf” Facebook and twitter. I’ve defaulted to the old ways of the web. Back to a reading from a controlled list of bloggers and news sites.

I have a list of photography, lifestyle, and security bloggers and web sites in my RSS reader. I recently culled the list to remove dead sites or sites whose focus had changed. When Trump won the election I added a filter for the keyword “Trump” to reduce the chance I would see blog posts about that.

I started participating in the IndieWeb. The IndieWeb isn’t new. It’s just the web as I think it was meant to be.

I don’t think social media is useless but I do my best to mitigate the risks of the downside. It sometimes fails. But … that’s how the universe works.

Image CC0 via Unsplash

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Just stop it

Bari Weiss and the Excesses of Call-Out Culture by Conor Friedersdorf (The Atlantic)
But I’ve interviewed, studied, and interacted with enough adherents of social-justice ideology to know that a great many are in earnest, even if they operate among others who are less scrupulous in their conduct. And those earnest participants are the people I still do not understand.

I don’t understand why they believe that extreme anger and stigma should be directed at people whose intentions and substantive beliefs are so close to their own.

I don’t understand why they dedicate so much energy and focus to what even they call microaggressions at a time when an ascendant coalition in American politics is bent on deporting as many immigrants as possible, vilifying Mexicans, Muslims, and others, and cheering figures like Joe Arpaio, who flagrantly violated the civil rights of so many. I don’t understand inhabiting that country, and still making Weiss the prime object of your attacks.

I don’t understand how they think they can defeat that nativist faction if their own pro-immigrant coalition engages in divisive infighting over transgressions as inevitable as clumsy wording (in this case, in a tweet intended to extol immigrants). At current sensitivity settings, literally everyone is problematic, most often for beliefs that they neither hold nor are aware of implying.

I don’t understand whether they don’t see that policing language so strictly will invariably cause a backlash, or don’t care, or believe that their coalition is so obviously ascendant and powerful and likely to prevail that a backlash doesn’t matter.

Even if every object of dragging deserved it, I don’t understand how the outcome could be anything other than punishing an infinitesimal percentage of bad actors while turning off so many with the excesses that it provokes a backlash.

And I don’t understand how so many on the left can dismiss concerns about overzealous policing of language as fragile cis-white men trying to repress the voices of marginalized people when these divisive fights most often break out among or are directed at people in historically marginalized groups. Reputable opinion surveys keep showing that majorities of every racial group share the belief that language in America today is sometimes policed too zealously, even as scores of journalists, academics, and comedians encompassing every race and ethnicity have publicly articulated variations on the same theme.
The article ends with this note by Julia Ioffe:

We live in a time where our dialogue and our politics and our news have been Twitter-ized. We have forgotten what it means to disagree with each other without annihilating each other. We have forgotten what it means to cut people slack, and to forgive their mistakes. I have felt this many times on my own skin, have watched people get furious at me for a comment and then refused to listen to the apology or the explanation. Twitter’s wrath is devastating. It is cruel. It is disproportionate.

Leave the Twitter mob. Think for yourself. Listen for yourself. Turn of your political bloodlust. Learn how to disagree as a civilized adult. Stop bullying people.

Just stop it.

Photo by Shripal Daphtary on Unsplash

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