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I've finally posted a paper I wrote last year on "ethical AI", algorithmic bias, and the Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2019 (I was a bit distracted and didn't get around to revising it for my blog until now).

jfenn.me/papers/2020-01-24-Eth

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After many thoughts and even more revisions, I've finally managed to upload the blog post I've been writing for about a month now - on the Free Software Movement, and why RMS doesn't get to say what it means. jfenn.me/blog/2019-10-28-Free-

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James Fenn boosted

"Every platform dies off some day. Geocities, LiveJournal, now Yahoo Groups. One day, Medium, Twitter, and even hosting services like GitHub Pages will be plundered then discarded when they can no longer grow or cannot find a working business model"

jeffhuang.com/designed_to_last

horrific.dev (the chaotic organization I've been planning things with for the past year) is having their first public meeting on Friday! Unsure how many Pittsburghers are following me, but I might as well post it here.

Like everything with this ridiculous group, there's no plan or agenda, we're "just working on websites" - so feel free to drop by and join us I guess? Also, an RSVP would be appreciated, so we don't suddenly have 50 unexpected guests like the internet does sometimes.

horrific.dev/events/02-14-2020

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Sexism at GitLab 

That's incredibly easy to misconstrue as an edgy "I hate society" shut-in negative outlook on life, which I think seems a bit far reached for people that aren't as involved in these issues. If someone has to choose between a view portrayed by billion dollar companies of positivity and an idea of reveling in "how far we've come", and a skeptic view of misaligned interests and social injustice, there isn't always a clear-cut choice.

Whenever I find someone that shares my views of tech and interest in talking about them, I have a period of overenthusiasm in which I bombard them with everything I think I know, and my biggest fear is that this will be overwhelming and drive someone away.

It seems contradictory - enthusiasm for being pessimistic - but that isn't really what it is. I'm enthusiastic about being honest with the industry, describing it as what it is, not using "optimism" to argue against potential for improvement.

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Take time to do what makes your soul happy.

A minor addendum: I found the article I was citing in my comment about Thomas Jefferson's dumbwaiter - it wasn't a specific reference to the company in question, but it's still a notable comparison. theatlantic.com/technology/arc

I don't understand how people just accept this as "a cool new innovation" without questioning its motives. Why does the tech industry keep going to such extreme lengths to remove the image of a human worker? I get that it's *technology*, and it fundamentally displaces manual labor, but this is more than the effects of that. Why are people scared of interaction with another human being? What incentive is there to replace this with a faceless branding that lacks any understanding or empathy?

Someone mentioned [grocery store by Ridiculously Large Company using facial recognition to record which items you pick up] today, and I heard the exact words: "it's really cool because it eliminates the need for any employees whatsoever."

I started thinking about how [company in question] has historically not treated warehouse employees very well, gone to lengths to prevent unions from forming, and was notably compared to Thomas Jefferson's dumbwaiter as a tool to hide the image of slavery.

Blockchain can't automate "a solution to fake news." AI facial recognition can't solve terrorism. Cryptocurrency and decentralisation isn't going to provide all-purpose salvation. Stop valuing them above basic human empathy, and put some thought into the effect your work has on actual people that don't live in your high class bubble of societal elite.

Don't place ethical responsibility on a computer program that's fundamentally subject to edge cases and incompatibilities with the real world.

I've realized that there's an exact word for what I dislike about certain areas of the tech industry in regard to software development...

Technological utopianism: "an ideology based on the premise that advances in science and technology can fill a utopian ideal"

Everything about this is wrong. Not that it's bad to be *optimistic* about technology, but it's bad to value technological advancement over real people's welfare, education, mental health, source of income, human rights...

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lots of changes i want to make, but if you want to see my Intro to C/Systems slides on studying Doom's C source code and Doom speedrunning techniques: gitlab.com/wilkie/introduction

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only 10am and i already did my absolute favorite thing: use a zero-width-space in a "last name" field

James Fenn boosted

I've been asked in multiple interviews in the last six months about how we can prevent private or semi private social media from becoming a place where people are radicalized. The only honest answer I can give is that I'm not opposed to radicalization per se. I'm opposed to right wing radicalization and I'm also opposed to the status quo and centrist incrementalist notions of justice and progress. I think we need more spaces online and offline for left radicalization.

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We need more POC leading tech conversations because there seems to be a real resistance to nuance in projects led by white folks.

The entire non-sense around 'free speech' is a great example.

As intelligent people who should be able to differentiate between hate speech that enables harm versus a person just sharing an opinion.

This conversation constantly gets muddled in ridiculous ways b/c white folks tend to white knuckle grip a generic ineffective one size fits all view point.

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Remember when technology people made Standards instead of Platforms

Email. IRC. SMS. HTML and shit. The fucking internet itself

Those things would never ever be made today. Instead they'd be shitty proprietary apps that probably only work on shitty proprietary hardware and can't be used by anyone without permission from the company that patented them

That's still kinda happening today? With stuff like dat and SSB and ActivityPub. But all of that is super super niche and technical and not at all accessible to the average user (with the exception of AP as of pretty recently). And it just sucks man, web 2.0 is bullshit

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@fennifith I feel like companies use AI to displace blame, too. Like YouTube saying "oh no, we certainly don't have any policy of systematically demonitizing LGBTQ related videos", BUT they do have an AI that for some reason or another _does_ do that. Now technically they probably don't have any lines of code that say "LGBTQ bad" but of course they don't, because that's not how AI works. At the end of the day, it's still your program!

I don't think I can put in words how much I dislike the misconception that AI is just some magic hat that takes in data and spits out a perfect and logical unbiased answer - it seems incomprehensible to anyone outside of CS, and the shady companies marketing "blockchain crypto AI wizardry" as an automated solution to anything do not help its obscurity.

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