Mark Sumner Profile picture
Feb 21, 2018 20 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Watching 'bots complain that the removal of other 'bots is "a silencing of conservative voices" may be amusing, but if you'll hang with me, I'll show you Judgement Day in a series of Tweets.
#TwitterLockOut #UglySingularity
What's going on with Twitter is deeply connected to two things — the 'crisis actor' meme and the structure of Twitter itself.
The idea of the 'crisis actor' — the accusation that people caught up in the midst of a crisis aren’t real people, but 'actors,' isn’t a new one. It's been used for decades. There’s a reason for that.
The ‘crisis actor’ meme is particularly vile, and effective, because it allows a withdrawal of all sympathy and empathy. It’s an advanced form of 'othering' fellow humans who are hurting, or injured, or in danger.
That little girl isn’t hurt, she’s an actor. That mother isn’t scared, she’s an actor. That boy on the ground isn’t dead, he’s just an actor. You don't have to feel for them ... in fact, you can *hate* them if you like.
The crisis actor approach is a way of treating human beings … like robots. That technique has been successful again and again. That’s why propagandists everywhere are still using it.
The success in weaponizing the crisis agent meme is a big part of why there are dead children on the streets of Aleppo, and on the grass of Parkland, Florida. And it's why so little is done about either.
What's helped make that weapon so potent is the nature of social media. And in particular, the structure and usage model of Twitter.
The best AI in the world can only fool a human being in a free-ranging, casual conversation for at best a few minutes. But Twitter is not a free-ranging, casual conversation. It's not even close.
Twitter is extremely constrained, and not just by length. Messages tend to be single topic, and highly focused. Grammar and idiom that make it hard for computers to spoof a human disappear into a high-information-density shorthand of brief ‘tokens’ and blunt statements.
If we had set out to create an arena in which computer programs would be difficult to differentiate from human beings, it would be hard to do better than Twitter.
Because people on Twitter and FaceBook don’t look like people. They’re partial people. Suggestions of people. Literally sub-human. And THAT is a standard that can be met with code.
So the idea of the crisis actor is to turn humans into robots that you don't have t feel for, no matter how they are treated. While the constraints of social media make it easier for 'bots to become trusted voices, even 'friends,' without requiring a massive AI breakthrough.
The two factors are driving us toward an 'Ugly Singularity.' One in which we don't gain any knowledge from advanced AI, but instead surrender knowledge and trust to a toxic stew of idiotic, but convincing-within-constraints bots.
This isn’t going to stop. Bot-based war hasn’t just won Russia chaos in the United States, it’s weakened US positions everywhere. Militarily. Diplomatically. Economically.
For Russia, bot-war is a program that’s given them a bigger boost than anything since the early days of the Space Race. They are not about to turn away. They're going for a moon shot.
For everyone else, the risk isn’t just rising authoritarian power or even corrupted elections. It’s losing the ability to effectively deal with ANY issue at any time. The Ugly Singularity robs actions of either logical or emotional base.
Judgement Day is coming, but it’s not going to involve chrome terminators and laser guns. Instead, it’s coming in the form of the technology behind Deepfakes and Voco mixed with 'bots and the well-groomed crisis actor meme.
The Ugly Singularity leaves us in a sea of images, video, and audio where any public figure can be seen doing anything, saying anything, being anywhere with no authoritative sources. It's not an attack on the government, but on the idea of government.
This isn’t some sci fi distant future. In fact, you should expect to see these weapons deployed in plenty of time for the fall elections. Because so far the bots are winning. In fact, they're the only ones fighting.

Have a nice day. #UglySingularity

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More from @Devilstower

Sep 26, 2018
The first minute of Trump's UN speech made him the laughingstock of the world—and that's a problem. Because while everyone was laughing, Trump was pressing a worldview that's not just un-American, but profoundly anti-American.
The words that Trump delivered weren’t just lacking support for ideas America has long championed, they were deliberately and provocatively *anti-American* as in directly counter to principles and studied positions refined through dreadful trials.
It would be inaccurate and silly to suggest that the tide of neo-fascist nationalism, racism, and xenophobia that’s pressing liberal democracy around the globe began with Trump, but his victory showed that what many had taken as a passing cloud was in fact a gathering storm.
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Dec 19, 2017
EPA chief Scott Pruitt is the most paranoid SOB in Washington.
o He has at least 30 personal bodyguards
o He has a sound-proof booth in his office
o He makes calls from random offices so no one can listen in
o He allows no one to take notes of his meetings
( there's more ... )
EPA chief Scott Pruitt's paranoia also includes ...
o He has his office swept for bugs
o He refuses to publish his travel plans in advance
o He makes EPA *employees* have an escort to get in the building
o His personal protection costs over 60% the tab to protect THE POPE.
So ... what in holy hell is Scott Pruitt up to? What is he doing, as the head of a US domestic agency that has almost NO classified information, that requires spending millions on security?
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