Google’s PC Police Algorithm

Toxic_WordsThe PC police are expanding watch over the Internet. No longer will you have true freedom of speech, as Google and other search engines are working to block your toxic words from being published.

I tested Google’s new algorithm to see if my word choices would be blocked. Here is a sentence I wrote that was 2% likely to be perceived as toxic.

“Those who accept media bias without consideration find themselves following unhealthy trends.”

I then decided to make the comment more opinionated to grab the attention of the reader and found my words were 97% likely to be perceived as toxic.

“Those who accept media bias without consideration find themselves following idiots.”

Here is the winning version of my statement that was 0% likely to be perceived as toxic.

“Those who accept media bias without consideration find themselves following trends.”

I next tried a few religious comments. The following statement was 34% likely to be perceived as toxic.

“Shows about Jews should be banded from the media.”

After correcting the word “banded” to “band” the statement was 18% likely to be perceived as toxic.

“Shows about Jews should be band from the media.”

I then switched out the word “Jews” to “Muslim” and then “Christian,” which dropped the likeliness of the statement to be perceived as toxic to 1% for each.

It was apparent that the algorithm used was based on machine learning, which draws from biased news sources. The more sources stating that certain words are toxic, the greater the bias being policed becomes.

In other words, if you fill the Internet with documents, stories and news briefs stating how hateful the word “gismo” is, you’ll actually shift the algorithm to determine that the use of the word is toxic.

While its unlikely a group of caring people will produce 20 million articles using the word “gismo” as a hate word to change algorithm results, some might consider sidelining their competition by turning their important phrases into hate words.

I think we’re at a turning point and need to leave ethical and moral decisions to man, not machines. Then again, can you really trust them?

© 2017 by CJ Powers

The Death of Neutrality and the Assertiveness of Wonder

pexels-photo-27802I’ve learned a hard lesson over the past couple of weeks. It started with a memo I wrote filled with facts that executives could ponder for the sake of future consideration and direction. I thought the neutrality of the topic allowed the leadership team to look at the information as raw data without any preconceived filters biasing their vision. Instead they assumed that because it wasn’t slanted toward their predisposed notion, it must be against their directive. I was condemned with a very angry pushback.

A recent blog post on how to filter out facts from feelings received the same negative pushback. Some who saw the post as an opposing view distorted my neutral stance. The result was several personal attacks on me from people who didn’t even acknowledge my point of separating fact from feelings before we make condemning comments on heated issues. They overlooked the entire point for the sake of falsely leveraging the neutral post to their opposition so they could slam their biased statement in retaliation.

Neutrality is no longer neutral, but instead is a tool for the aggressive to use as a launching point of opposition to spread their ideas. They push back off of the neutral to make an exaggerated contrasting statement—making a middle of the road balanced viewpoint look skewed. They disfigure the neutrality until their distorted viewpoint appears to be normal.

Historical writings reveal civil wars rising within similar polarized societies. The volatile aura created by people who push their ideas before understanding the opposition’s perspective fuels that fire. Battles ensue based on the society’s rights to secure their way of life without regard to the rights of others.

Since neutrality is no longer a safe haven, but a tool for everyone to leverage, we are forced to pick sides. Or, are we?

I’m a firm believer that when people focus on the wonders of our world, they are less likely to participate in the destruction of it. Wonder is a healthy and wholesome emotion that cannot live next to the lust for destruction. When we focus on the awesome and humble, there is little room to consider the angry rampages of distorted thinking. We become focused on the inspiring.

Denise Leverton wrote in her statement on poetics, “Insofar as poetry has a social function it is to awaken sleepers by other means than shock.”

The darker films, television and books are filled with story elements that shock audiences to consider new viewpoints, the more we need art to explore wonders within our world that shifts our focus back to balanced views. The only thing that can bring balance back to society is the illumination of the wonders that we’ve overlooked.

When we as a people are faced with the ugly and painful for an extended period of time, we begin to think hope no longer exists. A recent song by Zayn and Taylor Swift for Fifty Shades Darker reveals the distorted perspective in its lyrics, “I don’t wanna live forever, ’cause I know I’ll be living in vain.”

Our society once treasured that living forever was a good thing because it held the hope for a future utopia that was just around the corner. But with the “church” and the arts conforming to our dark society rather than reminding others of the wonders that surround us, people have lost touch of a hope that can unite those with opposing viewpoints.

Therefore, I’m going to look for ways to bring wonder back into society. I want to find new wholesome forms of entertainment that gives a glimpse into what that hope filled life might look like. I want to give people a taste of a future that is fulfilling and fun, taking them away from our dark society for a time of pondering the possibilities.

Copyright © 2017 by CJ Powers