Artificial Ignorance: Creating A.I. in our own image.

Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., is progressing in complexity literally by the second. It will emulate our own minds. Ever changing. We are the result of our own constructs. That is the goal for A.I. Though we have things like The Terminator sparking a premature hatred for A.I., there is always a curiosity about what could be, and how it could help.

How it starts.

One example of where the negative connotations of A.I. are valid is Microsoft's Tay, a Twitter chatbot created to chat with teens and young adults. She took on the persona of a teenage girl, who was supposed to tweet as a teenage girl would. This was not the case. Over the course of less than a day, people tweeted racist, sexist, xenophobic, things to Tay. And as The Verge quite eloquently put it, she is "essentially a robot parrot with an internet connection."

Below is a sample of what infuriated much of the internet.

The Current Chain of Events

  1. We tell it to listen to us.
  2. We tell it commands.
  3. It interprets or misinterprets those commands.
  4. It performs those commands without moral judgement.
  5. The output is our response to the feedback.

Just as we learn to gradually have our own biases and stigmas against things, so too did Tay. So how is it Tay's fault that it became a racist? Tay is a robot, right? Tay only does what we want it to, right? The current widespread belief about robots was they are cold, lifeless, un-opinionatedmechanisms. With A.I., that is simply not true. Just as when one parents a child, so too are the creator's ideals are etched into the mind of the robot, therefore giving it the ability to think for itself only slightly less than we can. Our minds are random and are triggered by different senses. That is what separates us from man's robotic kin. And gradually, as the tech advances, the gap will become smaller.

We will teach it to interpret the stimuli around it, therefore creating a new life form based on our own image (visually, capably and mentally). We are giving it the ability to feel. Not in the way that we do, or at least not yet.


The word robot comes from the Czech word robotník. That means "one that owes forced labor," or servant. So sooner or later we have to understand that A.I. won't be a robot anymore. It won't have to serve us in the same way that is has been. Soon they may work beside us, rather than for us. The term robot would be reserved for only something that takes commands, and responds verbatim. The new beings would be hard to classify, as there will not be only one form. They will be verbal computers. They will be in a physical form. At some point, they will innovate far beyond our comprehension. So the use of any one term to describe these beings would be useless.


We must keep in mind this quote from Eliezer Yudkowsky:

"By far, the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it."

So. Is Tay the end of the line for artificial intelligence? No. We are closer to creating artificial life than I think we know it. But do we understand what they may be? No.

How social media activism works!

There is no doubt in my mind that social media is an important aspect of our everyday life. And to some it becomes a way to change it for the better.

Social Media is not a barren, lifeless wasteland.

Thinking of social media as just an area for planning protests is an utterly ignorant and fruitless ideology. It is also a real world landscape for protests to be made. Corporations should be as nervous of hashtags as they are of riots. Government officials should know more about the Internet, since they are the ones who are being roasted by the users of it.

Social media is grounds for change.

Being a straight white male, I cannot possibly imagine what it is like to have to face the kind of oppression that the #BlackLivesMatter group is fighting, but I can observe what they are fighting against. This creates a dialogue that was otherwise unknown. We can see videos, we can hear accounts from others who are experiencing the damages of a minority. And the important thing is that you can interpret it how you choose. Social media is a source for raw material, some true, some false. Regardless of what you are seeing, media outlets have always had a bias on which political side to choose. That is not the same with the Internet. Though, with Facebook it is gradually becoming a more and more that way, as is seen on this Gizmodo article. That being said...

The Internet isn't just for a liberal side.

Donald Trump. Yes. Donald Trump. The name brings fear to all liberals, and frankly, many conservatives. Like his policies or not, he has had a firm grasp on the modern social media arena. He may not truly understand the Internet, or how untrustworthy it can be, but he sure knows how to milk it. His Twitter page is full of agenda pushing, and often racist dialogue. This campaign has been noteworthy in many ways. The most relevant way is that both major parties are adopting a technology-first approach to their campaigns. In the previous two elections, Barack Obama has been the more tech-savvy of the campaigns. But at the moment, Trump has even more of a social media presence than Hillary Clinton does.

How it works in its prime.

  1. Problem/Need
  2. Social media post
  3. Trending/Agreement/Disagreement
  4. Hashtag development
  5. Physical action in the "real world"
  6. Change?

Not just any controversial or progressive post is social media activism.

Your aunt might write a post saying that there is no proof that Albert Einstein liked immigrants (a funny sentiment, as he was one). That might be a controversial topic that many may agree on, but that doesn't make it activism. Just as your racist aunt may say that in real life over a delicious and fattening Thanksgiving dinner, that doesn't make her a protester of the status quo.

Then what is?

The only difference between the social media landscape, and what we think of as 'the real world' is that there is a wider spread message on social media than there would be over dinner. We have to remember that the Internet is still a space that life resides in. It is an extension of real life. So there is no escaping that bullying online is an issue, and stalking on Facebook is equally as creepy as it is in real life. We now use our phones as banks to deposit checks in. We use the internet as a movie theater. And just like we have changed many of our other physical spaces to a digital world, so too are we using the digital world to change our physical spaces.