๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ Repetitive Motion

A capitalist's love letter | A wilful misunderstanding of data portability | ban facial recognition

๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ Repetitive Motion

Let's get right down to it: this week has been sort of okay I guess ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ. To triangulate my reasoning:

  • There is chat from the EU about banning high stakes applications of AI
  • There is chat from Facebook about data portability
  • There is chat from Jeff Bezos about how his Amazon shares made him wealthy...

๐Ÿค• Have you been injured at work?

Well, if your place of work happens to be an Amazon warehouse, a new algorithm is about to be added to the repertoire of bullshit that you already have to deal with in your day-to-day.

โ˜๏ธ Because: in Jeff Bezos's most recent (and last ever!) letter to his shareholders, he said that 40% of work-related injuries at Amazon are due to repetitive strain. Therefore, employees will now be at the mercy of some kind of automated scheduling system which will rotate workers across different jobs, so they don't use the same muscle groups all the time. Because he cares about his employees injured employees are unproductive.

๐Ÿค” Just a thought: perhaps don't overwork your employees to the point of injury, then you won't need to use algorithms on them in order to make their productivity indistinguishable from that of a robot. Speaking of which, this report tells us that injury rate is 50% higher in warehouses with robots. Either the human employees are trying to high-five robotic arms, or this is the start of the machine uprising โ€” it's hard to say which one of these is more likely, come back to me after my next bong hit.

In his letter (or, detailed account of a capitalists wet dream) Jeff did forget to mention the whole peeing in bottles thing (you know? Peeing in bottles! That perfectly normal thing to do at work, and not at all a thing you do when your livelihood is hanging on by a thread). But here are some other absolutely golden quotes:

  • "We are going to be Earthโ€™s Best Employer and Earthโ€™s Safest Place to Work."
  • "I am an inventor."
  • "My Amazon shares have made me wealthy."

...if you're upset that I've taken these quotes out of context to make them seem worse than they are โ€” don't be. In no context is it acceptable to say any of this stupid piffle.


๐Ÿ™„ Facebook are doing a data portability thing

Except they aren't โ€” they're just doing the bare minimum and writing a really boring blog post about it. The gist is that you can take certain bits of content you post on Facebook, and put a copy of them somewhere else. Quick and pertinent facts:

  • They announced a data portability tool in 2019; I wrote about that here while I still had a job at a failing startup (a simpler time)
  • Until now all the tool has done is allow you to 'transfer' photos from Facebook to some other photo cloud
  • Now you can turn your Facebook posts or notes into blog posts on Wordpress or some other sad, clunky blogging platform
  • Facebook have decide to rename this tool to 'Transfer Your Information', possibly the most misleading title they could have come up with (except for even dumber things like 'slice your bread')

๐Ÿ“ฃ JUST TO BE ABSOLUTELY CLEAR: this tool has absolutely nothing to do with data portability, and everything to do unacceptable, inane, bullshit.

โœ… Data portability is: when you MOVE data from one service to another, so you can use it there INSTEAD. So in the case of Facebook, true data portability would be moving all Facebook data out of Facebook (part of the service would be them deleting it from their servers) and into a similar service.

โŒ Data portability is not: when you have the limited option to COPY user-generated content (so that's stuff you produced yourself, such as timeline posts and photos), over to another platform, while it remains on the original platform.

Copying holiday snaps over to Dropbox does nothing to threaten Facebook's platform power, which is why they are not engaging in true data portability. This is more than clear, seeing as they've been working on a 'copy paste tool with more steps' for a year an a half now. If they actually do want to give Facebook users true portability, what's taking so long? Read this quote to find out:

"However, the ecosystem we are building to support data portability will not come to fruition without regulation that clarifies which data should be made portable and who is responsible for protecting data once it has been transferred."
Steve Satterfield, Director of Privacy and Public Policy

One: amazing that a ruthless tech giant seems to be held back by a lack of regulation. None of these factors have stopped them before...?

Two: regarding 'who is responsible for protecting data once it has been transferred': this demonstrates a further (perhaps even wilful?) misunderstanding of what data portability is. If the data is actually portable, once it's taken out of one service, they don't technically need to even pretend to care what the user does with it afterwards.


๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš–๏ธ Some recent attempts to regulate AI

Right so two things:

  1. The FTC have come out saying that they will punish you if your technology uses an algorithm that has a negative impact on a protected class (and other stuff like that).
  2. The EU want to ban high-stakes applications of AI (sounds great, I'm so glad the UK, my home, is still in the EU โ€” oh wait).

The FTC think they're being very smart here, and maybe they are โ€” for them ๐Ÿ‘€. But waiting until the bad thing happens and then slapping someone with a fine is what we've already been doing for the past two decades, so maybe we can try something else now?

Earlier today in a meeting, I was laughing about a company who use AI to make better concrete. Sure, we all found this hilarious, but I honestly prefer the idea of AI being used to make concrete rather than arming our police with facial recognition cameras just so that they can racially profile people with the speed and precision of a machine.


I leave you what it means to become irrelevant: 15 years ago Internet Explorer was the browser of choice for 90% of internet users... now it's the butt of many browser jokes (not that there's a lot of those...)

Thank you for reading, GOODBYE


๐Ÿ“ฃ If you have a cool or funny story to put in Horrific/Terrific please tweet me, or even send a DM