June 9, 2019

NY Times on The Making of a Youtube Radical.

The algorithms that show you "Up Next" aren't politically biased by design, but in practice - yow.
"There's a spectrum on YouTube between the calm section -- the Walter Cronkite, Carl Sagan part -- and Crazytown, where the extreme stuff is," said Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, YouTube's parent company. "If I'm YouTube and I want you to watch more, I'm always going to steer you toward Crazytown."
The story talks about how the algorithms at first focused on proximate content (i.e. videos with similar outlooks) but when they introduced the goals of getting people to stay on longer, started selecting towards pushing people to more engrossing stuff - and folks on the alt right figured out how to leverage this pattern.

Here's the most bullshit, weak-sauce, mathematically illiterate defense I've read this week:
In interviews, YouTube officials denied that the recommendation algorithm steered users to more extreme content. The company's internal testing, they said, has found just the opposite -- that users who watch one extreme video are, on average, recommended videos that reflect more moderate viewpoints.
LOL, I think they're arguing that regression to the mean somehow shows there isn't a trend. I mean come on - if someone lands on some of the most wackadoodle stuff, chances are, statistically, the recommendations will be somewhat less wackadoodle than that. Math is hard!

A slim silver lining is that the left is figuring this out as well, a "group [that] calls itself BreadTube, a reference to the left-wing anarchist Peter Kropotkin's 1892 book, 'The Conquest of Bread.'" Previously I enjoyed Contrapoints response to Jordan Peterson and the unlikelihood of the conflation of "Post-Modern Neo Marxism".

But yeah. These algorithms are god-awful. "You might also like" was sort of cool on Everything2, but it's too clear that rabbit holing can be utterly abused. (And while I'm at it, screw Netflix and autoplaying next. It's like a self-refilling glass for casual drinkers.)
An x-ray of a brown long-eared bat.

(Photo: Chris Thorn)


"I'll Fly Away" from the Second Line for Dr. John (spotted by Daniel in SoH)

Just so it's known - I'm no Dr. John but if I die any time soon I sure as hell want as much music as the Boston area folk I've played with this past half-decade or so can muster. Probably w/ a lot of School of Honk songs so everyone can join n.
LOL, so Marvel/Disney are being uptight about streaming rental of Captain Marvel (gotta get that new gawd forsaken DisneyPlus mojo working I guess, grrrrrrrr) - maybe it'll be time to go to frickin' Red Box physical media for a while til they get this shit settled or I succumb to the Mickey Christ and subscribe or steal a subscription.