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The Social Dilemma and instrumenalization 

One of the things that I liked from the Social Dilemma is that they pointed out that the problem isn't necessarily the existence of the technology, or the algorithms, or social communication platforms in themselves... but that a major issue arises when we turn those algorithms back on to ourselves.

It was kind of a subtle point made in passing, but in my opinion this is the whole point: Instrumentalizing people through the application of algorithms on people produces bad outcomes for people.

It's not just that the algorithms are biased (they are), but simply the fact that they are being used to measure and sort people and then provide or enforce different outcomes on people based on how someone gets sorted.

I'm curious if there are any exceptions or if this instrumentalization is universally unhealthy for humans (because it is inherently dehumanizing)?

The Social Dilemma and instrumenalization 

A possible exception might be the case where the algorithmic treatment is meant to provide benefit to the recipient instead of being punitive or extractive.

My two reference points there are:

1) The work my former company did for behavioral based energy efficiency which was a net-win for the consumer by helping them save money without any punishment or extraction.

2) In the book Weapons of Math Destruction, Cathy O’Neal makes the same claim.

I wonder

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The Social Dilemma and instrumenalization 

@vortex_egg I think one of the big issues with asking machines to make decisions about people is that even if it operates without bias (which is probably impossible), it would inherently devalue outliers. And not only does that harm people who are disadvantaged in some way, it ALSO creates artificial roadblocks to greatness

The artists and inventors and other great minds are essential, but they don't function in isolation! Their successes are in large part because many others saw their potential and supported them. That's not a judgement that statistics or ML are well-equipped to make.

The Social Dilemma and instrumenalization 

@calcifer Right exactly. And going further, ML, statistics, and computers are just tools for doing some kind of calculations more efficiently. You can strike them out of the equation and still are left with the same problem: preferentially sorting humans and instrumentalizing human behavior away from its own life-affirming ends.

Norbert Wiener, the father of cybernetics, wrote a warning about this at length in his book “The Human Use of Human Beings”.

The Social Dilemma and instrumenalization 

@vortex_egg yep. Data is useful to advise people. But when you make data the absolute arbiter over how you treat someone else, or when you make measures into objectives, or when you apply population data to individuals, you create problems

The Social Dilemma and instrumenalization 

@vortex_egg I think one of the things that would have to be addressed is people's desperate desire to be sorted.

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hackers.town

A bunch of technomancers in the fediverse. Keep it fairly clean please. This arcology is for all who wash up upon it's digital shore.