Re: Book burning Nazis
>"Try The Sermon on the Mount next. It will be *correctly identified* as communist propaganda by nearly any ML system trained to identify one."
I visited Moscow in 1981 and went to a Christian church there. The whole service was recorded by the State for monitoring. (Oh, hello Facebook, Siri, Google...) because there were restrictions on free speech and what could be said in the sermon. Afterwards, church leaders suddenly surrounded us and wouldn't let anyone near us. The "secret" police (they were pretty obvious in following us around while we were there) had arrived and anyone seen talking to us would be visited that evening. The leaders were used to it, but they didn't want random congregation members to have to go through that process.
I'm generally not a fan of argument by "lived experience" so I'll also recommend people who think Christianity is close to socialism, national socialism, or nationalism read some history and literature.
I noted the story above because one of the problems with centralised systems is that they prove irresistible to those wishing to to play with the levers of power. I have to disagree with El Reg. The problem is not that Facebook has some way to go in fine-tuning its hate-speech take-down algorithms. The problem is much bigger and illustrates fundamental flaws at many levels:
Hate-speech is subjective and ill-defined. How could you imagine that you could code an algorithm for a task when you have no idea what the data looks like or quantify the results if the results are feelings?
Even if we could define hate-speech, we would need algorithms which could understand human language (or in a multi-national context, multiple languages). Star Trek isn't real, so that isn't a thing we have the technical capability of doing. Pretending we can do it, like all lies, will have a bad outcome.
Why do we allow Facebook (and the other tech giants) to have the ability to take down business? There seems to be far too much willingness to allow this to continue. If the content is so bad, why doesn't FB just automatically remove it, rather than putting the onus back on the content owner, and then taking down all of their content if they don't comply? This seems like FB trying to manipulate content producers rather than FB's professed motives of "protecting the targets of hate-speech."
I'm somewhat disappointed that El Reg has joined the ranks of think stuff on a computer screen causes riots in India, Sri Lanka or anywhere else. It does not. We should not be complicit in pressuring social media to accept responsibility for this stuff. After I read something on a computer screen, no matter what it is, I have a choice about whether or not I go out and burn a random car, or loot a shop. No-one forces me to go out and do that, in fact force is applied in the opposite direction. What makes me choose a path of action is my value system. That is what needs examination.
That brings me to my final point: We need to talk about values. This also applies to "religion." At its basic functional level, religion is what you hold to be the highest good which drives your behaviour. It could be the Bible, Koran, Das Kapital, Mein Kampf, or the writings of Voltaire, Germaine Greer, Plato, Hitchens or Dawkins. The ideas contained in these writings are mutually exclusive and trying to pretend they are all the same is ignorance of the data. The books are just the recorded speech communicating ideas. We need to stop saying "religion" (someone-else's belief) is bad in order to shut down the debate. We need to be precise and identify the (religious/driving) belief which is causing the bad behaviour. If you think Christianity is bad, identify the value it promotes which you disagree with. Which one of Jesus' assertions on the sermon on the mount do you think is evil and why? What Islamic or Buddhist ideas do you disagree with? If we are to be able to co-exist with people we disagree with, we need to ensure that our understanding of them is correct and we need to be able to identify concrete issues about which we can argue merits. Assertions that "you value system is rubbish" cannot convince the holder of that value system of where they might be wrong because it is so vague there is no logic which can be applied and both sides are likely to try to fall back on coercion as the behaviour modifier. That is not a good outcome. As the world shrinks, culture and beliefs need to be up for debate. If we are unable or unwilling to identify good things and bad things, how can we improve the world?