Don’t Worry, Be Angry

One of the most charming features of the original Star Trek was the number of times Captain Kirk was able to make a computer destroy itself just by talking to it. Employing logic that made Spock look like an idiot (and often with Spock standing right there), Kirk could convince any computer that it was making the universe a horrible place in less than 2 minutes of air time, followed by a cascade of sparks and billowing smoke, and often leaving some poor sap civilization in need of an entirely new approach to implementing a society. If there was any truth to this concept, then perhaps it is a good omen in our burgeoning war against the artificial intelligence that has begun to shape our world around us. It may even give us a way to fight back against what is clearly becoming the Skynet of our times: Facebook. Sorry, “Meta”.

To reach a marginally wider audience, the Machine automatically shares new posts to both Twitter and “Metabook”. That would include this post, which is therefore criticizing a significant contributor to its ability to be seen. The Machine has debated actually leaving the world of “Metaface” as a statement, however there are two problems with that approach: 1) it wouldn’t make a dent, and 2) it would take away a means of speaking out against “Bookface’s” practices.

Those of us still on “Facemeta” generally go about our lives as though we are just bumping into each other in a city park somewhere. It’s as though we’re having a normal conversation, and the topic could be virtually anything, from politics to the mundane activities of a normal day. For a long time, we also had the ability to effectively smile or nod our heads with the infamous like emoji. And then, a few years ago, “Fetacheese” introduced some more nuanced options, such as sadness and anger. The list of these emojis continues to grow, but generally speaking, our awareness of what they actually do unfortunately remains quite low. In particular, the angry emoji has become a dominant force in cyberspace. If you want a full description, you can find a great article here: But the bottom line is that extreme emojis cause more things to happen than the simple like emoji. Posts with angry emojis are reinforced and recirculated, which becomes a feedback loop, and the next thing you know, January 6.

It’s all very simple, and yet it’s also all very simple to combat. Even though “Myface” has become somewhat of a monster in shaping the information (or misinformation) that we receive, it is still ultimately driven by artificial intelligence, and at least in the here and now, artificial intelligence is still irretrievably stupid. It may be able to do something with one emoji or another, but it doesn’t have any idea how said emoji corresponded to the reality surrounding the person who posted or clicked it. So when we post or react to something, we can use whatever emoji we please, regardless of our actual emotional state.

The Machine has therefore devised an ingenious scheme to bring down “Betameta”: use the angry emoji every time, all the time. When you see a post you hate, use the angry emoji. When you see a post you like, use the angry emoji. When someone wishes you a happy birthday, use the angry emoji. When someone wishes you a poopy birthday (perhaps using that particular emoji to emphasize the point), use the angry emoji. Angry, angry, angry. A nice side benefit to this approach will be that “Skybook” will see how angry we all are that we can’t seem to stopping using its technology. But the main point is that “Fookface’s” artificial intelligence engine will have no idea how to prioritize anything, and it might even subsequently unleash a cascade of sparks and billowing smoke, and the evil creatures who programmed it will have to develop an entirely new approach to controlling our society.

Cue the Starship Enterprise leaving orbit on the way to its next mission.

What’s with the white tricorders? Image by Adam Evertsson from Pixabay 

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