Thursday, June 9, 2011

Screwing with the forces of comprehensive technologicalization

A friend on facebook pointed out the recent and worrisome (for some, at least) development of Facebook's facial recognition technologies, so I looked it up and read a bit about it.

While I tend to be relatively old-fashioned and share concerns like these, I'm disinclined to do something like shut down my facebook account in protest.  The benefits simply strike me as outweighing the costs, although I can certainly understand why others would leave facebook for this or other reasons.  It's astonishing how social intercourse has changed because of developing technologies.  A lot of it is for the good, although we lose as many social abilities and virtues as we gain in the process.

In my opinion, the best way to deal with comprehensive technologicalization is to resist opting out as much as possible... the technologies are here with us to stay, they are here for good reason (because they are effective), and we should be eager to take advantage of the salutary aspects of technological advance. 

At the same time, old virtues aren't refuted by technology.  They are simply made to look quaint and so become unpopular because of the rising status quo.  There's no reason why one can't push against expectations of the system by, say, writing out all of one's blog posts long-hand and scanning them into blogger for posting.  It would be sort of silly, and probably not worth it, but the point is that we should not understand our options to be restricted by new technologies.  These things are our tools, and can be used by us.  I doubt we could ever create a rock we were unable to move... that's what fulcrums are for.

Much more satisfying, I tend to think, is merely to screw with the system.  If facebook is going to profile us all and compile a comprehensive image database for identification purposes, we might as well make them work for it.  It would be great if people on facebook tagged random objects or blank spaces with their own or their friends names in order to throw off the facial recognition and tag recommendation technologies.  Or better yet... just like the Facebook Celebrity Doppleganger Week where people on facebook posted a celebrity look-alike as their profile picture, everyone could post a picture of Mark Zuckerberg as their profile picture and tag his face with their names (and the names of friends!).  All I need to find now is a Making Ideas Go Viral For Dummies book.

4 comments:

  1. re: "All I need to find now is a Making Ideas Go Viral For Dummies book."

    Well that one's easy - put it on facebook!

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  2. In the words of Harry from Dumb & Dumber: Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!

    Well done, Zuckerberg. On a scale from one to great, that's friggin' badass.

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  3. It would be great if people on facebook tagged random objects or blank spaces with their own or their friends names in order to throw off the facial recognition and tag recommendation technologies.

    Uh would it kill you to know that it's already happening as of a few days ago? I'm not about to link to my friends' false-flag-facebook images, but I think it's likely already happening.

    Sadly, resistance is futile. Outliers will be discarded. If you want to throw them from your trail, you need statistically significant false info, preferably from many FB accounts with consistent distinct IPs. The way to acheive this is by giving yourself a fake name, which you give to all of your "friends", and NEVER "friend" RL colleagues. Technical means will extent your possibilities, but only so far.

    There are web-spiders crawling all over your details right now.

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  4. Yeah, I can't imagine something like this would overthrow the giant or anything... just a fun idea.

    The funny thing is, you could even have the benefit of accurate tags without the facial recognition problem easily enough. Just tag yourself at chest level, where you're still identifiable for real people who want to see pictures of you, but in a way that avoids highlighting your face.

    I suppose recognition programs could be developed that feel out your body's profile and make their way up from any tagged area to a face for visual recognition, but that would presumably be a much taller order.

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