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April 13, 2016

The Web’s Child

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

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You may have read about Tay. She was Microsoft’s attempt at artificial intelligence, designed to interact and learn from random people on the Web. Tay was mercifully killed less than 24 hours after she was born. And we’re all better for it.

According to an article in Forbes:

“Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation,” Microsoft said when they loosed Tay to the wild. “The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets.”

Based on her interactions with “the Internet,” Tay quickly became a Hitler-loving, Donald Trump-supporting, sex-addicted obnoxious shit. This result isn’t Microsoft’s fault: It’s all of ours.

In going with the theme of some of my recent posts, the Internet has proven itself to be just a horrible place. Yes, it’s valuable for news, information, diversion, connecting with people, and it has potential as a great resource.

The Internet is also a hollow, soulless place where anonymity decreases people’s compassion and humanity. They over infuse drama, crave self attention, and to keep up on the popularity treadmill, they churn out some of the most vile stuff humanity is ashamed to take credit for it. Microsoft’s Tay was unintentionally designed to absorb all of that.

And, seriously, what else would you expect?

Some sites on the web — and I need not mention them by name — are horrid! The people who infest these sites are not the prime examples of humanity we would want to showcase to our ancestors. I mean, “Look Rabbi Maimonides, we have such amazing technology available that I can see a man fondling himself halfway around the globe. Are we brilliant or what?”

Maybe Microsoft’s Tay is what we’ve become, the exact things we don’t lift up in classic poetry, philosophy, literature, and music. The Internet celebrates the vain, the ignorant, and the crass. Tay learned well.

The only upside to the Tay experiment was that she could be unplugged. The same is sadly untrue for the Internet. And as time moves forward, I predict that you’ll see more vile, inhuman, and irrational behavior from people who exist in the real world but thrive in a filth-soaked digital realm.

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