Discussion in 'Whatever' started by Mr. Humphreys, Feb 11, 2013.
didn't even have to click to realize we were talking about finger family
That was a pretty incredible read, not that most of it came a surprise to me. But the central thesis of what the author is presenting is very much important, and should not be dismissed out of hand. We are living in an incredibly challenging and untested age, and I do think we are already seeing [greater] cultural effects from the digital generations. In one of my past roles I was responsible for categorising such things as youtube and internet searches (which therefore means being exposed to those searches) - only vocalised. And let me for the record tell you that hearing children as young as infants look for such is things is, in fact, very much disturbing. I say that in full honesty and disclosure, with no sense of exaggeration. I don't know how much 'automation' has to do with this (and some usage of that term I would object to), but this is very much at the feet of the content moderators/suppliers without question. This is much more insidious than 'fake news' and its effects are much longer lasting and deeply ingrained. I am happy to see that some of the videos Mr. Bridle alluded to have been pulled, but I have doubts it was for any of the right reasons. As unpopular an opinion as this is going to be, this is a direct consequence of capitalism and the incessant drive to monetise absolutely everything in people's daily lives. The world has become a sad place, in many respects.
My sister is nine and grew up with YouTube, though she isn't anywhere near as deep in as some of the kids I see now. I worry about what it will mean to care for a child with access to the modern internet.
This is what I was getting at with "automation", but you've cut to the heart of the problem here. It's not so much automation here as the revenue model relying on vast amounts of user content and interaction. Moderating all that would be a formidable task without some degree of automated filtering, and of course there's good old cost-cutting at work too, since hiring and administrating a small country's worth of human content reviewers might not even be viable for their bottom line. So the ad-revenue model creates an incentive for uploaders to produce tons of videos, and the sheer quantity of content means that the first level of filtering happens with automated systems that won't pick up these freaky uncanny-valley children's videos.
It also creates our problem on the content creator side, which is where I think automation is more relevant. These kids' channels have found the best way to maximise profits with minimal effort is to upload tons upon tons of videos, often with the exact same "nursery rhyme" song but different visuals. So it seems a lot of the content creation itself is automated, like a program picking random characters from a pool, assigning a voice part to each and managing the background and animation and such. Sometimes that will produce really disturbing shit which the site filters won't pick up, because it comes from the whole context of the scene and not a violent image or a bad word. And it feeds itself, because as a new channel trying to establish a foothold you need to play the game and fling as much shit as possible against the wall like everyone else. What's especially unsettling for me is that this sea of weird, basically unmoderated content lets malicious actors hide. Some videos are obviously machine-generated and others obviously have a lot of human hands on production, but stuff in that 'uncanny valley' of subtly disturbing videos is really ambiguous to me. A portion could be awful people intentionally uploading videos that harm children, knowing they'll get lost in the sea.
That's a very long-winded way of saying that I agree; this is absolutely a problem of capitalism. It's what happens when everything directly touching most of these videos on the user and YouTube sides is a machine, because here machines are cheaper and faster than people. I think it's also an excellent example of how capitalism in general is damaging us, but that's another long paragraph.
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