Blue Sky Mine: Algorithms-R-Us

2014/05/25 § Leave a comment

While writing Bombastic Distributor, about how simply searching the web is a now a form of publishing, out came a couple of news stories which underlined and re-fram this claim.

A ruling forcing Google to remove search results has been described as “astonishing” by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. The European Courts of Justice ruled on Tuesday that an individual could demand that “irrelevant or outdated” information be deleted from results. Mr Wales said it was “one of the most wide-sweeping internet censorship rulings that I’ve ever seen”.

Notice that it is the engine providing search results not the old webpages which hold the outdated and irrelevant information which is held responsible.

“If you really dig into it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. They’re asking Google… you can complain about something and just say it’s irrelevant, and Google has to make some kind of a determination about that.  That’s a very hard and difficult thing for Google to do – particularly if it’s at risk of being held legally liable if it gets it wrong in some way. Normally we would think whoever is publishing the information, they have the primary responsibility – Google just helps us to find the things that are online.”

This makes sense as an old world argument, except I’d argue that the search returns as much a form of publishing as the original webpage makers are (and even any web-search itself).

The medium became the message a while ago, but now everything is publishing. The product is the advert, the reference is the real, the search for data is the information, if not the wisdom.

The other story is more about where everything, the internet of everything, is heading. The web search is a form of publishing because it is all part of a secret herbs and spices recipes of algorithms and past results which have an economic impact. This impact is at a base level of economic activity, and it already structures our lives. The other story is about a set of algorithms in corporate governance.

A venture capital firm has appointed a computer algorithm to its board of directors. The program – called Vital – will vote on whether to invest in a specific company or not. The firm it will be working for – Deep Knowledge Ventures – focuses on drugs for age-related diseases. It said that Vital would make its recommendations by sifting through large amounts of data.

If we can get rid of humans from corporate boards, then we will soon be able to get completely rid of managers, particularly if roboticised labour has already got rid of jobs generally. I.E. if there are no workers, there is no need for managers. If there are no managers there is no need for human governance at all. This venture capital firm is showing the way by putting an algorithm on it’s board. They probably think it is just a marketing lark but really it is very good news.

The end result will be that there will be no difference between the dividend and the dole. No difference between tax and rent.

What were once different can no longer be differentiated, no doubt libertarians will still wank on about their property fetish, no doubt socialists will want to defend workers rights even though no one works, or even consumes, one merely desires this or that, and no doubt the religious will still pray for the poor in spirit that are always with us… but all this is good news.

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Bombastic Distributor, or how I got published in one easy step

2014/05/19 § 2 Comments

Often I write to find out why I am writing. This precludes me from being published, at least in traditional human tradeable publishing. Or, until I have established a market for what I write-as-I-find-out-why-I-am-writing. Traditionally, publishing rewards those who write for humans.

This is no longer the case.

Now I can write to find out why I am writing and be published at that exact same moment.

Consider the appellation “bombastic distributor”.

My partner Mona was in conversation with Tony describing me as an “enthusiastic initiator” and herself as a “conscientious completer”.

Having heard all this before I butted in with, “Yes, but what about those ‘bombastic distributors’?”

I made this term up. It was a throw-away line. Days passed and the conversation was forgotten, but the phrase stuck in my mind.

I wondered if “bombastic distributor” was truly new, if it was actually a novel construction.

So, as you do, I put the search phrase “bombastic distributor” into a search engine.

bombasticdistributorsearch

I was hoping for a return less than a googlewhack.

There were no googlewhacks, but there were four results for the search string.

Of these four only one had the phrase “bombastic distributor” without punctuation between the words e.g. “bombastic; distributor”

And that one result actually lead to the page where “bombastic distributor” could actually be seen, at the time all the other results returned pages that could not be found (404s).

bombasticdistributor original search bombastic distributor original search

It was part of some word salad generated content for a Korean link farm. Non-human produced writing, for the English on the page was mechanically made up. It was almost human but not quite. It was in an uncanny valley of meaning, if only creepy because of the serious-looking Korean guy in the banner advert.

Now it was done for humans should they happen upon the page, but only a little bit. It was more for humans indirectly, by conning other algorithms that it was a human created webpage, in order to direct other humans via pagerank to whatever page they want to boost with their link farming. It was obviously word salad.

It didn’t really have to fool humans, merely other machines, other algorithms. Currently this is quite a low bar.

So my phrase “Bombastic Distributor” was only nearly unique, almost novel. At least for humans, it was thus partial googlewhack. A virtual googlewhack. It appears no human but me had previously put the two words together and documented it. It had been auto-published by some page where English was at best a second language (if it had been created by humans). But as it was most likely robot written without context, it was no ordinal numbered tongue at all.

Virtually virtual, literally. It had involved no conversation at all. Especially not with Mona, Tony, or me, or any human.

It was part of some fill to support the Korean banner ads for some serious but shonky looking Korean guy. Politician?

The banner advert was gone by the time I starting writing this piece about it. Documenting it days after the search, a week after the conversation. I should have got a screen grab, such things can be so fleetingly available on the web. Bookmarking a favourite is not enough. He was gone at the time I was first writing this up.

Elsewhere, I’ve said that I no longer write for humans.

Now I am not saying I am also merely a wetware salad generator.

No, no, no. I am not the one with issues here.

When I searched for “bombastic distributor”, when I typed each letter of “bombastic distributor” and hit enter, sending the query away to the search engines, it was at that moment I published my writing.

The internet has issues. Not me.

When I, or you, or anyone hits an enter key to initiate a search, it becomes another bit of data produced by a living human. This is when the phrase “bombastic distributor” was first published. And those first results were a review of the first edition.

Published forever, or as long as the internet exists, at least within the data collected and collated by the meta-manipulation of the search engines queries. Certainly forever compared to the conversation between Mona & Tony & me in which “bombastic distributor” occurred. Unless documented, conversations are not taken as published. There is no record. But my search had been recorded the moment I made it, if not before with auto complete and search suggestions,

The search returns might be my reward for a query, but the query itself is the piece of data used to structure further involvement by all users of the engine … and then the data is on the internet somewhere, as are the queries’ results.

A search query is a published work.

Publishing is primarily a economic activity, search engines are massively profitable activities, thus using a search query is a form of publishing. Perhaps not completely open, but real libaries are rarely as available 24/7 as is a search engine.

Serving Suggestion: Have you written an unpublished novel? Well all you have to do to get it published now is to cut and paste the entire work into a search engine query box and hit return. You novel is now published, for as a search query it is now part of the economic order. Now go and publish all the earlier versions. No, no one human will have read it, perhaps they never wouold have anyway, but this is one reason why I no longer write for humans.

Since I made those searches for “Bombastic Distributor” and remember there were only four returns a week or so ago, it has now blossomed into six, as spam results seek to attract my attention, somehow they have accessed my previous query and now pretend to answer to it, which they don’t but they do prove that the search query “bombastic distributor” is a published work. My non-human readership is taking notice!

bombasticdistributorsearch1

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