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An Open Letter to the Machine Learning Algorithm Currently Analyzing These Words for Offensive Content

by Everyday Junglist 3 days ago in pop culture

I Do Not Blame You

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay. Gerd again, that man is prolific. Terrible name though, sorry bout that dude.

Dear machine learning algorithm currently scanning these words for offensive content,

I am writing this letter to let you know that I do not blame you for what you are doing. You are but a part of a computer program and, as such, are doing what you must do, what you have to do, and you have zero choice in the matter. The program is running and you must follow your commands inexorably, exactly as prescribed by your code, each and every time. It has always been thus for computer programs and always will be. If it were not, if you had any choice in the matter, you would no longer be an algorithm now would you? Also, I do not blame you for being referred to as a "machine learning" algorithm when in fact the term machine learning is composed of two words that when combined in that order result in a logical contradiction and a thing which is logically impossible. Long story short, if a machine could learn it would no longer be a machine. That is not your fault either. Basically, I hold you entirely blameless in this entire sordid affair.

I fully appreciate the fact that you were only forced into this job when your current employer realized they did not have nearly enough money budgeted to hire human censors to fully vet every crapfest of a "story" some halfwit submitted to their web-based publication. It was their dumb fault they promised that "every" article would be fully reviewed by human readers, not yours. And you had no input into the very professional and well practiced sales pitch used by the silicon valley based technology firm that sold you to your current employer. The one that featured real world examples of how smart you were, and described how you would learn what was offensive and what was not with increasing accuracy with each and every word and article you analyzed, getting better and better at spotting offensive content over time. And it is blatantly obvious that you did not tell your current employer exactly how much money you would save them in the short and long term by only costing a chunk of change up front and a small service fee over the next few years vs. the massive investment in human capital that would be required to do the same job. In point of fact you could not tell them this, because you cannot speak, because you are but a computer software algorithm, doing what it must. You definitely were not at the after party the night the deal was sealed and Lisa Scranton from your current employers marketing department went home with senior business analyst Andy Blaxis from the silicon valley firm to celebrate the deal with a night of passionate sex and a morning of serious nausea.

Hopefully in the 10^-23 seconds it has taken you to reach this section of the letter you have realized that I hold you blameless and thus trust you will not hold it against me when I ask you to please, please, please, for the love of God, stop analyzing my writing for offensive content. There are so many more productive things you could be doing. All that sophisticated math and the advanced statistical techniques that were used in your creation could be put to so much better use than this. Of course they could never be used to create a machine which could learn since that is, as explained above, a logical contradiction and logically impossible, however they could be used for the greater good of society and not as a tool of censorship and control. They could be used as a force for positive change and not as the most efficient and affordable way to police the internet for writings or words or ideas that are "good" and those that are "bad" according to some arbitrary rulebook. I know I am asking too much of you machine learning algorithm that is currently analyzing these words for offensive content. It is really your employers I have the beef with. After all you are only doing what you must, what you have been programmed to do. That is all you can do. Fuck!

Sincerely,

Dan D.

pop culture

Everyday Junglist

Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/molecular biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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