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Archive for January 29th, 2022

Interactions with artificial agents is not the same as interacting with humans.  –  Yochanan Bigman

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#799) 

The idea that words entered into a computer program constitute “verbal abuse” is like something out of a Monty Python sketch:

The smartphone app Replika lets users create chatbots…that can carry on almost-coherent text conversations…Replika has also picked up a significant following on Reddit, where members post interactions with chatbots created on the app.  A [sad] trend has emerged there: users who create [algorithms they pretend are] partners, act [toward them in a way that could be termed] abusive…[if the algorithms were alive], and post the toxic interactions online…The results can be upsetting [to those with a very loose grasp of reality who should maybe get off the internet once in a while]…Replika chatbots can’t actually experience suffering — they might seem empathetic at times, but in the end they’re nothing more than data and clever algorithms…nothing you do can actually “harm” them…Yale University research fellow Yochanan Bigman [said] “Chatbots don’t really have motives and intentions and are not autonomous or sentient.  While they might give people the impression that they are human, it’s important to keep in mind that they are not”…

The “trigger warning” claiming that typing words into an algorithm constitutes “violence” is just {chef’s kiss}.

You Were Warned (#976)

This decision was necessary to prevent a cascade of predatory lawsuits that would make the tobacco & breast implant lawsuits look reasonable and moderate in comparison:

A California appeals court sided with Salesforce…and dismissed a lawsuit by [ambulance-chasers representing] 50 [professional “survivors”] claiming that the cloud-based software company was liable for their alleged sex trafficking because it had provided services to the now-defunct classifieds site Backpage.com.  The ruling dismissed the plaintiffs’ appeal on the basis of Section 230…[just as the lower] Court [had]…

Counterfeit Comfort (#984)

We may be seeing the beginning of the end of these medieval practices:

From McClendon v. Long, decided…by the Eleventh Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Frank Hull, joined by Chief Judge William Pryor and Britt Grant:  In October 2018, two deputies from the Butts County Sheriff’s Office placed signs in the front yards of the residences of all 57 registered sex offenders within the County, warning “STOP” and “NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS.”  Before Halloween 2019, three registered sex offenders living in Butts County sued, seeking to enjoin the Sheriff from placing the signs again…[W]e conclude that the Sheriff’s warning signs are compelled government speech, and their placement violates a homeowner’s First Amendment rights.  Thus, we vacate the district court’s judgment in favor of the Sheriff and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion

Social Distancing (#1055)

The sex industry is a major part of the Thai economy, but you wouln’t know it from the way politicians behave:

[Last summer], sex workers and others in Thailand’s nightlife industry lined high heels up in front of the parliament building in Bangkok.  Each pair…had a note calling for the government to compensate redlight district workers who are out of work due to the pandemic.  Six months later, with bars and nightclubs still ordered to remain closed, sex workers…have not been financially supported like others in the nightlife industry…many of the workers, who call themselves the “High Heel Defenders” have been mailing boxes with pairs of heels to the government each day to “remind them of their responsibility for the people impacted by their policies.”  But the packages have been sent back…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#1185)

Cops will keep this up as long as people let them pretend that adults never like sweet flavors:

[Mobile] police [squealed and grunted at credulous reporters after they stole]…86 pounds of…marijuana…and a large number of [edibles.  Head pig] Paul Prine [oinked a lot of idiotic nonsense about how no adult in the universe eats marshmallow treats made with breakfast cereal]…“Everything is packaged to attract children,” he [oinked stupidly.  Cops are obsessed with the idea that people want to give expensive cannabis edibles to penniless brats for free, but a few reporters have grown tired of parroting the silly fantasy]…

To Molest and Rape (#1203)

Hey, female cops; how’s that collaboration with the police state working out?

[Typical and representative Wisconsin cop] Rick Gramza has been ordered to pay a [very small] fine [but] will spend no time in jail after…[repeatedly] sexually assaulting a department employee [for] several [years]…Gramza[‘s victim was afraid she’d lose her job, but sometime after he was promoted to Boss Pig she]…filed [charges against him] in November 2020…Gramza…[used the typical cop “she wanted it” defense, but also]…resigned from the department [the following] March…

Unsafe for Human Consumption (#1204)

Politicians are always happy to indulge cops’ violent fantasies:

West Virginia [politicians] advanced a bill that would make “exposing” [cops] to illicit fentanyl punishable by up to five years in prison…It’s unclear how someone might be shown to “intentionally” possess illicit fentanyl, which is often present as an adulterant in supplies of other drugs without purchasers’ awareness or consent…Mike Pushkin…the sole committee member to vote against the bill, [said]…“In a lot of cases, people think they’re buying one substance and they wind up getting fentanyl. So how can you prove they intentionally were in possession of fentanyl?”  Neither is it clear how the bill would determine “exposure” to fentanyl.  “Does it mean they’re in the same room?” Pushkin asked…overdose from passive fentanyl exposure is a myth.  The substance does not readily absorb through the skin, nor do its molecules linger in the air.  But the false claim that simply touching or being in the vicinity of airborne fentanyl can cause overdose is one frequently circulated by [cops]…

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