s3e07: Patterns in the noise 

by danhon

0.0 Station Ident


2:42pm on Friday April 1st, also known as That Day Google Reminded Everyone How The Team Running Gmail Is Socially Inept[1], h/t Andy Baio[2]. It’s sunny outside in Portland again, there’s hardly any clouds and I’m floating at a desk at the XOXO Outpost again, as part of an influx of new members. Listening to: Christina Perri’s Human[3] again, especially for the lyric: I can turn it on / be a good machine. That’s because it’s exactly how I feel when I get out and speak at a conference. Example: (please don’t hold this against me, future conference organisers) at this year’s O’Reilly Design conference (for which I got 5s for content and 3s for time management, may I point out!) I only *really* got into writing my talk in the two hours before I was actually supposed to give it and was also in a super depressive funk. But. Stick me up on that stage in front of the peoples and I will totally turn it on. I’ll be that machine. I will perform for you, like some sort of evolved, non-dancing monkey.

And then, sometimes, I’ll just collapse and crash.

[1] Google reverses Gmail April 1 prank after users mistakenly put GIFs into important emails | TechCrunch
[2] Andy Baio on Twitter: “WHAT A HARMLESS APRIL FOOL’S JOKE, WHAT COULD GO WRONG https://t.co/Maw8a6VUSA”
[3] human (Uncovered Version) – christina perri – Google Play Music

1.0 Patterns in the noise

Out with friends last night, Laura Hall[1] reminded me that us Gen-Xers/older-than-snakepeople, are blessed to be the generation that did stuff on the internet *that got erased*. I rephrased it as a sort of “the last act of GenX was to turn off the servers before they left the building”. All that shit we did on Geocities? Boomers bought it off us and then deleted it so no one would have to deal with all our younger angst and index it forever. Coincidence, no?

Also in the grab-bag of things that have caught my attention. A Ryan’s Law[2] [not actually called Ryan], proposed legislation AB2867 would:

[allow] Californians to conveniently unsubscribe from a service with a simple click of the mouse,” said Assemblyman Gatto. “It just makes sense, that if you are able to sign up for a service online, you should also be able to cancel it the same way[2]
which, you know, is Assemblyman Gatto kind of pointing out what I’ve been pointing out with my whole Empathy Gap shtick and the accompanying “not trying is a signal” idea, where the fact that something doesn’t exist (i.e. one-click unsubscribe or one-click cancel) is practically/tantamount to malicious intent these days. Look, if Uber can on-board someone in x many minutes and have them drive people around, or if you can subscribe to a recurring credit card charge so easily, then the reason why you can’t *undo* those things is plainly because *someone doesn’t want you to*. Assemblyman Gatto is rightfully pointing out that there’s *nothing* stopping these companies from offering things like one-click unsubscribes from services. Techcrunch calls this Ryan’s Law because Ryan Block is the guy who recorded his attempt at cancelling his Comcast service a while back[3]. Expect this pressure and this cognitive dissonance to grow, I reckon.

A short one, mainly because of a whole bunch of conversations I used to have with Naomi Alderman, a most excellent unorthodox Jew, is this examination as to whether it’s OK to use Amazon’s Alexa/Echo during Shabbos[4], which is a REALLY GOOD AND INTERESTING ARTICLE and took me a few reads to actually make sense of (ie: I couldn’t skim-read it and instantly know whether it was OK or not.) Spoilers: the answer is that it’s probably not OK[5].

When my brain isn’t thinking about how awesome a zombie movie set on a cruise ship would be (answer: amazingly awesome, someone please get a cross between Warren Ellis and Geoff Manaugh to write it and George Miller to direct), it’s thinking instead about which of the following situations would be more likely to precipitate the first deployment of armed drones on the continental United States: a) co-ordinated attacks from the Sovereign Citizen movement; b) some sort of ISIS co-ordinated attack; c) accidental CRISPR-induced zombies. Someone has already answered “all of the above”, in which case my response is: fine, put them in chronological order. Back to the zombies though: a) Disney owns cruise ships; b) Disney makes movies; c) someone please make this, still.

At the *exact same time* that I was writing about Centaur Chess the other day, Google’s Matt Jones was writing about Centaurs Not Butlers[6] which you should take as immediate proof of something like me actually having intelligent and relevant thoughts about things. Or, a whole bunch of observer effect/confirmation bias.

And in response to yesterday’s episode, a conversation with Greg Borenstein about the hilarious (and probably untrue) reasons why artificial intelligence would never take off that includes: a) API rate limitations; b) API terms of service not allowing certain kinds of combinations of resulting services; c) red-tape from HR.

[1] Laura E. Hall (@lauraehall) | Twitter
[2] Law proposed lets you cancel Comcast online with one click
[3] Product Guy Tries To Cancel Comcast Service, Hilarity Ensues | TechCrunch
[4] The Amazon Echo and Shabbos | The 5 Towns Jewish Times
[5] Naomi Alderman (@NaomiAllthenews) | Twitter
[6] Centaurs not Butlers | Magical Nihilism

OK. 2:59pm on a Friday afternoon. If you were in England, you’d already be in the pub by now.