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We DO welcome our new robot overlords

Tweenbots! This is fabulous, and disconcertingly heart-warming and hopeful. Worth reading the write-up of the experiment at that link, and watching the video.

Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.




innerbrat has an excellent post about seeing problems in stories, and the best ways to deal with seeing them, or not seeing them. With handy metaphors.

Ofcom is getting complaints about Coronation Street because one character in it questioned the truth of Christianity on Easter Sunday. And called God a "supernatural being", apparently. Outrageous!

And my probably final thoughts on #amazonfail - this blog entry from Clay Shirky about people's reaction to it is great. I'm guilty of being involved on Sunday, but I think I stayed on the right side of the mob mentality line - enough for my own comfort, anyway, and I'll be even more careful in future.

Though the #amazonfail event is important for several reasons, I can’t write about it dispassionately, because I was an enthusiastic participant in its use on Sunday. I was wrong, because I believed things that weren’t true. As bad as that was, though, far worse is the retrofitting of alternate rationales to continue to view Amazon with suspicion, rationales that would not have provoked the outrage we felt had they been all we were asked to react to in the first place.

The commenters handily illustrate the point by shouting about the possible inherent bias of the algorithms, and the fact that there's a filtering system in place at all, without admitting that while both of these things are definitely issues that should be addressed, they would not have stirred up anything near the amount of outrage that happened over the weekend. (And in fact didn't - people have known there was filtering in action since February at least, and have always been able to see the metadata Amazon uses, and neither of these things have previously caused more than minor mutterings.)

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Comments

( 2 comments — Comment )
miss_next
Apr. 15th, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC)
I don't honestly see what is wrong with a filtering system, as long as people can choose whether or not to use it. I do think it's unreasonable to put gay fiction on what is supposed to be a porn filter, because gay fiction isn't automatically porn (though some of it may be, just as some mainstream fiction is probably pornographic). But I would stoutly defend having a porn filter available for those who want to use it.

I find porn offensive because it turns people into objects. I was offended (and embarrassed, and creeped out) in precisely the same way on one occasion when I saw a window display with static live models instead of dummies. The models were all perfectly decently clothed, but because they were in a situation where one would normally expect to find something inanimate, I found I was getting exactly the reaction I would have if I had seen porn. That's why I don't want porn turning up in my Amazon searches, and if it did I would go elsewhere. I'm perfectly aware that not everyone sees porn in this way, but I would maintain that there are enough people who do to make it reasonable to have a filter available.
pickwick
Apr. 15th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, this is pretty much my take - I can see why they want a filter, but they should be open about it, and it should be opt-in, like Google's SafeSearch. But what they seem to have is a secret porn filter, which I'm less comfortable with even if you can still find it in other ways. And yeah, general gay fiction shouldn't be on it, but I don't think they ever meant to do that!

I don't have a problem with porn as a whole, but there is certain porn I do find offensive, probably for much the same reasons as you - the whole Pratchett thing of "treating people as things".

( 2 comments — Comment )

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Notes from extinction

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