Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

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Fin Fang Foom
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Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Fin Fang Foom »

One of my relatives had a family member die yesterday. He posted this to Facebook. Today is his birthday. Facebook letting me wish him a happy birthday without going to his own page to see that his relative died. This seems like a low-hanging fruit. Anecdatally, the "memories" or whatever it's called reminds people of terrible memories.

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Jennifer
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Jennifer »

Facebook's ad algorithms are really damned stupid. Back in the day, I remember, I used to get lots of sponsored posts from anti-gay-marriage groups of the "Adam and Eve NOT Steve NEVER Steve goddammit" variety, despite the fact that I "liked" George Takei--you think they'd be smart enough to figure out that anyone who "likes" Mr. Takei in the Facebook sense of the word is very unlikely to have a problem with the thought of him marrying his true love, even if their naughty bits are the same.
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Fin Fang Foom
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Fin Fang Foom »

My favorite ad ever was on Twitter where I got horse fertility drugs ads. I doubt if I typed horse into Google or whatever anytime in the last five years.

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by tr0g »

Fin Fang Foom wrote:
04 Sep 2017, 15:22
My favorite ad ever was on Twitter where I got horse fertility drugs ads. I doubt if I typed horse into Google or whatever anytime in the last five years.
Search for 'horsecock' one time, FFF, and it'll follow you forever.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Eric the .5b »

Fin Fang Foom wrote:
04 Sep 2017, 14:51
One of my relatives had a family member die yesterday. He posted this to Facebook. Today is his birthday. Facebook letting me wish him a happy birthday without going to his own page to see that his relative died. This seems like a low-hanging fruit. Anecdatally, the "memories" or whatever it's called reminds people of terrible memories.
There's a mess of stuff like that. Facebook and others have been working on tha. Especially after, a few years back, when Eric Meyer, whose young daughter had suffered and died from brain cancer, found himself hit on the face with "inadvertent algorithmic cruelty" by the Year in Review thing. That post blew the fuck up because rather a lot of people knew about the story, and he followed up with a calm down, you guys! post after rather a lot of bile went the relevant Facebook team's way. But it's an inherent problem to trying to prompt people to communicate.

Meyer has been approaching and investigating how we can engineer these things to be less shitty to people dealing with grief and crisis, but it's a hard problem. After all, look at the notifications system right on this board. It's at the top of the page and encourages people to first respond to people who've responded to them. So, if people are having some random, dumb argument, they're encouraged to continue that first-thing, even if one of the participants has, say, just announced a death in their family or something similarly awful in another thread.
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Jennifer
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Jennifer »

Eric the .5b wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 20:20
Fin Fang Foom wrote:
04 Sep 2017, 14:51
One of my relatives had a family member die yesterday. He posted this to Facebook. Today is his birthday. Facebook letting me wish him a happy birthday without going to his own page to see that his relative died. This seems like a low-hanging fruit. Anecdatally, the "memories" or whatever it's called reminds people of terrible memories.
There's a mess of stuff like that. Facebook and others have been working on tha. Especially after, a few years back, when Eric Meyer, whose young daughter had suffered and died from brain cancer, found himself hit on the face with "inadvertent algorithmic cruelty" by the Year in Review thing. That post blew the fuck up because rather a lot of people knew about the story, and he followed up with a calm down, you guys! post after rather a lot of bile went the relevant Facebook team's way. But it's an inherent problem to trying to prompt people to communicate.

Meyer has been approaching and investigating how we can engineer these things to be less shitty to people dealing with grief and crisis, but it's a hard problem. After all, look at the notifications system right on this board. It's at the top of the page and encourages people to first respond to people who've responded to them. So, if people are having some random, dumb argument, they're encouraged to continue that first-thing, even if one of the participants has, say, just announced a death in their family or something similarly awful in another thread.
Offhand, it doesn't seem like it would be that difficult (by the standards of people smart enough to write such algorithms in the first place) to avoid some of the more obvious fuckupperies. For example: I notice that Facebook's "Year in review" thing puts a LOT of weight on graphics -- it is rare indeed for me to post photos on Facebook, which is why one year, Facebook decided one of my most notable events was when a friend of mine posted a political cartoon onto my feed, because it was one of the VERY few graphics I had that year -- but to avoid horrors like that link-writer being reminded of his young daughter dying, how freaking hard would it be to write an algorithm to look out for such phrases as "died," "funeral," "memorial service" or "passed away" alongside such photos? Or to avoid posts containing such words or phrases as "got fired" or "lost my/his/her job?" Ditto for "divorce/divorced," "evicted," "foreclosed" and other words which almost always appear in some sort of unhappy or negative context. Or, do not "year in review" any posts with lots of "sad" or "angry" responses (as opposed to "likes").
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Mo
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Mo »

I think it's because a lot of the engineers/leadership is too young to have experienced the death of a close loved one, so they, for the most part, don't care. A friend of mine is a senior architect at Youtube and said that Google didn't start caring about kids stuff* until Larry and Sergei had kids old enough for them to care about it. He also joked that they had a 7 year head start on Facebook because that's how far behind Zuckerberg was in having a kid.

* Aside from don't mess with COPPA
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Jennifer »

Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:00
I think it's because a lot of the engineers/leadership is too young to have experienced the death of a close loved one, so they, for the most part, don't care.
Even if you're too young for it to be statistically likely that you've lost a spouse, same-age friend, parent or child, didn't these people have grandparents, for fark's sake?
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Mo »

Jennifer wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:22
Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:00
I think it's because a lot of the engineers/leadership is too young to have experienced the death of a close loved one, so they, for the most part, don't care.
Even if you're too young for it to be statistically likely that you've lost a spouse, same-age friend, parent or child, didn't these people have grandparents, for fark's sake?
It's way less jarring to lose someone whose time it is and who you likely only saw on holidays and major family events. When I was in high school, my grandfather died the same year as a good friend of mine from high school. I was sad when my grandpa died, but my friend dying fucked with my head for months.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Jennifer »

Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:28
Jennifer wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:22
Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:00
I think it's because a lot of the engineers/leadership is too young to have experienced the death of a close loved one, so they, for the most part, don't care.
Even if you're too young for it to be statistically likely that you've lost a spouse, same-age friend, parent or child, didn't these people have grandparents, for fark's sake?
It's way less jarring to lose someone whose time it is and who you likely only saw on holidays and major family events. When I was in high school, my grandfather died the same year as a good friend of mine from high school. I was sad when my grandpa died, but my friend dying fucked with my head for months.
No doubt, but even in high school, would you have thought grandpa's death was one of those happy-fun-awesome occasions you want your "year in Review" to remind you about?
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Jadagul »

Jennifer wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:30
Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:28
Jennifer wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:22
Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:00
I think it's because a lot of the engineers/leadership is too young to have experienced the death of a close loved one, so they, for the most part, don't care.
Even if you're too young for it to be statistically likely that you've lost a spouse, same-age friend, parent or child, didn't these people have grandparents, for fark's sake?
It's way less jarring to lose someone whose time it is and who you likely only saw on holidays and major family events. When I was in high school, my grandfather died the same year as a good friend of mine from high school. I was sad when my grandpa died, but my friend dying fucked with my head for months.
No doubt, but even in high school, would you have thought grandpa's death was one of those happy-fun-awesome occasions you want your "year in Review" to remind you about?
If year-in-review reminds you of seven things and two of them make you go "meh", that's not a problem. Like, I've definitely had friends actively broadcast their amusement at Facebook reminding them of a skinned knee or some such.

It's only really a problem when the thing you're being reminded of is actually traumatic. And most of the Facebookers probably haven't experienced enough trauma for that to have occurred to them as a possibility. (It certainly wouldn't to me).

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Jennifer »

Jadagul wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:33
It's only really a problem when the thing you're being reminded of is actually traumatic. And most of the Facebookers probably haven't experienced enough trauma for that to have occurred to them as a possibility.
All the more reason why Facebook needs to hire a more diverse range of people, or at least run its ideas by diverse focus groups -- the site has gone well past the time when it could reasonably say "Well, this service is only for late-teens and early 20-somethings who attend Ivy League schools and have mostly led charmed lives!"

Even then, I'm rather skeptical of such notions as "Unless you've had a child die, you can't possibly figure out that parents of said dead kids would be unhappy about it" or even "Unless you've personally lost a job and faced financial worry as a result, you can't possibly know that people who've had this happen to them think it really, really sucks and would rather not be reminded of it via a 'Year in Review' with graphics of stupid balloons."
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Jadagul »

It's not that you'd disagree with that claim. It just wouldn't occur to you.

And yes, this is one of the better arguments for diversity in hiring. (Though "for diversity reasons, you should hire unsuccessful people to influential positions at Facebook" seems difficult to implement for obvious reasons.)

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Eric the .5b »

This will be long and footnoted because the topic interests me, and it's one that people generally don't understand. This is my little attempt to explain something that I fear only makes intuitive sense if you've programmed a computer to do something non-trivial.
Jennifer wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 20:33
Facebook decided one of my most notable events was when a friend of mine posted a political cartoon onto my feed, because it was one of the VERY few graphics I had that year -- but to avoid horrors like that link-writer being reminded of his young daughter dying, how freaking hard would it be to write an algorithm to look out for such phrases as "died," "funeral," "memorial service" or "passed away" alongside such photos?
Emphasis added.

There's one fundamental reason that I sigh and roll my eyes every time people hyperventilate about computers and AI. That's because doing things as conceptually simple as "hey, don't collect pictures of lost loved ones in the year-end thing" is much harder than you think.* Sure, adding a few flags based on a few words or phrases in posts is trivial in a filtering and condensing algorithm. We can even wand-wave the huge number of false positives ("Here's me and my dad fishing; we took my boat because the motor on his died.") as worth the cost, even though they really aren't—otherwise, we could just not do it in the first place, as that's the easiest way to avoid upsetting anyone.** But what are all the words and phrases? Try to list them in your head, and I promise you that you've missed most of them. Get a committee together to come up with phrases, and you'll still miss plenty.*** Get every single humanly possible phrase in your filters, and someone will still see a picture of a dead loved one.**** This would be why people still get distressing stuff in their year-end things and on-this-day things, most of three years later.

The problem is that text doesn't mean anything to Facebook or the Grylliade server or to social networks in general. It's just bits to be copied and displayed to various people. The only meaning this post I'm writing has to the phpBB software is which forum it is, which thread, the time I hit "post", which user I am, that I quoted you in it, and a mass of meaningless bits that is the "content".***** If I throw a sequence of bits at its search function, it'll try to find posts with matching bits in their content. That's it. It has no idea what I'm saying, here.***** * And for the most part, the same thing is true for Facebook. All their terribly clever stuff tries to mine the meaningless bits of posts for clues, and it only works so well.

I mean, Amazon has a far, far easier job when it comes to recommendations, as everything I so much as look at on Amazon is heavily categorized and annotated with information. And yet, after however many millions of dollars of work on this for over twenty years, its recommendation system still suspects I'm a sexually submissive pagan woman who's into paranoid right-wing political thrillers***** **.

This stuff is vastly harder than it seems. Not just much more work, which you can solve by throwing more people at it, but just fundamentally harder. It could only be easy or straightforward if we had AI. Without AI, programmers can only try to think of things to do to handle every possible scenario. And we always fail to do that, if the situation is at all complicated.




* And that's totally ignoring the larger realm of other subjects that could make images upset people: divorce/breakup, a cause that you soured on, etc.

** Not even being flippant. Knowing when it isn't worth doing something (and being able to convince those who pay you of that fact) is an important skill for a programmer.

*** If my mom posts a picture of my late grandmother and says, "I miss you, Mom", looking for "dead", "died", "funeral", etc. won't catch that. Looking for "miss" or "miss you" can't tell the difference between I miss this dead person and I miss this person I haven't seen in awhile, much less I already miss this person I'm posting pictures of after seeing them today or even this is my favorite picture of me and someone else when we lived at a place that I now miss.

**** Easy example: someone posts their joyful pictures of their wedding in March, and in November, their spouse dies. Even with the who-is-this-person business with photo uploads, the system isn't going to connect "Last night, Joan was hit by a drunk driver" with the pictures of a woman in a wedding dress and whatever happy text Joan's husband posted.

***** Or more precisely, a sequence of bits that's run through an algorithm to find and convert every BBCode tag into HTML, but let's not even get started on the levels of abstraction and transformation, codecs, yadda yadda.

***** * Which can be a hard thing to truly grasp. We look at text and meaning pops into our head. Those are words, dangit. But to the computer, they're just bits in a list. A list of bits to store and to dutifully display to anyone looking at this page of this thread. And if you're wondering whether the forum, thread, or page mean very little either, you're right. They're just the numbers in the URL (with meaningless bit labels) that the Grylliade server uses to filter what blobs of bits we want to look at. We tell it forum 4, thread 2600, and up comes our lists of meaningless bits in order of timestamp.

***** ** It doesn't appear confident that I'm a lesbian anymore, though.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Eric the .5b »

Jennifer wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:48
Jadagul wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 21:33
It's only really a problem when the thing you're being reminded of is actually traumatic. And most of the Facebookers probably haven't experienced enough trauma for that to have occurred to them as a possibility.
All the more reason why Facebook needs to hire a more diverse range of people, or at least run its ideas by diverse focus groups -- the site has gone well past the time when it could reasonably say "Well, this service is only for late-teens and early 20-somethings who attend Ivy League schools and have mostly led charmed lives!"
Just quoting that second post by Eric Meyer:
What surprised and dismayed me were the…let’s call them uncharitable assumptions made about the people who worked on Year in Review. “What do you expect from a bunch of privileged early-20s hipster Silicon Valley brogrammers who’ve never known pain or even want?” seemed to be the general tenor of those responses.

No. Just no. This is not something you can blame on Those Meddling Kids and Their Mangy Stock Options.

First off, by what right do we assume that young programmers have never known hurt, fear, or pain? How many of them grew up abused, at home or school or church or all three? How many of them suffered through death, divorce, heartbreak, betrayal? Do you know what they’ve been through? No, you do not. So maybe dial back your condescension toward their lived experiences.

Second, failure to consider worst-case scenarios is not a special disease of young, inexperienced programmers. It is everywhere.
(The "brogrammers" bit being a particular detail—Facebook is one of the big names where if you see some of their programmers, you won't always see a sea of white guys with a few Indian men.)

This, of course, he says after he specifically points out that he himself didn't predict what effect his original post would have. This isn't trivial or easy stuff. It's not "put alt text on all images" or straightforward checklists.
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

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I'm surprised anyone would think that's trivially simple to do.
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by thoreau »

My least favorite sentences in the English language are those that begin with "Can't you just...?"

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Mo »

Easy example: someone posts their joyful pictures of their wedding in March, and in November, their spouse dies. Even with the who-is-this-person business with photo uploads, the system isn't going to connect "Last night, Joan was hit by a drunk driver" with the pictures of a woman in a wedding dress and whatever happy text Joan's husband posted.
I actually think this would be pretty trivial for FB to do because their facial recognition is really fucking good and they have a shitload of data to feed their learning algorithms.
Eric the .5b wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 22:22
(The "brogrammers" bit being a particular detail—Facebook is one of the big names where if you see some of their programmers, you won't always see a sea of white guys with a few Indian men.)
Only Twitter has fewer non-white/non-Asian males than Facebook.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Mo »

I will admit my bias straight up, my default assumption of Facebook is going to be pretty uncharitable because of their actions, like the creepy psychological experiments.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Eric the .5b »

Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 22:54
Easy example: someone posts their joyful pictures of their wedding in March, and in November, their spouse dies. Even with the who-is-this-person business with photo uploads, the system isn't going to connect "Last night, Joan was hit by a drunk driver" with the pictures of a woman in a wedding dress and whatever happy text Joan's husband posted.
I actually think this would be pretty trivial for FB to do because their facial recognition is really fucking good and they have a shitload of data to feed their learning algorithms.
And all those years of work and refinement gets them only halfway there in that scenario, even just conceptually. Identifying whether someone in a picture is alive or not based on text cues in posts? A whole different mess.
Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 22:54
Eric the .5b wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 22:22
(The "brogrammers" bit being a particular detail—Facebook is one of the big names where if you see some of their programmers, you won't always see a sea of white guys with a few Indian men.)
Only Twitter has fewer non-white/non-Asian males than Facebook.
Women are also a thing, and when I say big names on programming, I don't mean just seven particular companies.
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Eric the .5b »

Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 23:02
I will admit my bias straight up, my default assumption of Facebook is going to be pretty uncharitable because of their actions, like the creepy psychological experiments.
It doesn't matter. The problem itself is hard, and it's hard to even explain to laymen why.
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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Mo »

Women are the Y axis and they were below all but Twitter on the tech jobs.

Also, I get that the problem is hard. Sometimes the best response to, "Your product is doing shitty things," is to pull back the feature instead of saying, "It's hard." A good example of this is how many years Google took to finally manually kill racist autocomplete search suggestions.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Fin Fang Foom »

Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 23:30
Women are the Y axis and they were below all but Twitter on the tech jobs.

Also, I get that the problem is hard. Sometimes the best response to, "Your product is doing shitty things," is to pull back the feature instead of saying, "It's hard." A good example of this is how many years Google took to finally manually kill racist autocomplete search suggestions.
Yes, they could just kill that feature and nobody would care.

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Fin Fang Foom »

Important to note, the world would be a better place if Twitter and Facebook shut down.

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Re: Our AI Overlords Will be Dumb as Rocks

Post by Eric the .5b »

Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 23:30
Women are the Y axis and they were below all but Twitter on the tech jobs.
Oh, OK, a second graph... Still of seven fucking companies. You do get that these seven companies are nowhere near the end-all and be-all of the programming world, right?

(And, of course, that the non-white people and women who do work at those companies still exist...)
Mo wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 23:30
Also, I get that the problem is hard. Sometimes the best response to, "Your product is doing shitty things," is to pull back the feature instead of saying, "It's hard."
...No shit, Sherlock.

It's like that's literally the second point I made in my previous post. It's like how the links I posted were not that guy saying "the programa-rithms should infallibly detect that and protect me!" but pointing out that it's bad to just inflict the output of features like that on people without their actually initiating them.

I get it. You don't like Facebook. I'm not saying I don't care about your opinion, on the matter, but I definitely don't care enough about it to play punching-bag for you just because you skimmed part of a post and had your knee jerk. Spare me.
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