Thursday, July 3, 2014

Magna Charta

Recently, Facebook, with some academic cohorts, did an experiment on FB users. As in, manipulating them without their knowing what is going on.

Sound sophomoric? Well, with young guys in charge, I ask, what do you expect? "Lord of the Flies" comes to mind. Some point to Orwell (one of the Georges).

But, we do not have to invoke fiction. We have the reality of the Magna Charta and the times thereof. Starting in 1215, with the first sealing, the King went through cycles of agreeing and then disagreeing (more than 45 times).

About what? The rights of anyone besides himself. You see, Barons of the time wanted constraints on the king (who claimed divine right). But, those Barons were, for the most part, cousins of the king. And, they held, in bonds, oodles of serfs and others.

Yet, many claim that the Constitution was enabled by the machinations of the Barons (who were looking out for their own self-interest).

Was anyone looking out for the rights of the little people? Well, some priests and nuns and others (like Saint Margaret), I would suppose, who took Christ's admonitions to heart.


Andreessen and sarcasm
So, come to the present and FB. This behavior shows a provider stomping on the rights of users. But, who speaks for users? What are their rights?

Well, we can point back to the Magna Charta. The modern analogs is that the provider role leads people to think like kings/barons (as do corporate bosses). The users are equivalent to the old barons who know that they need to stand up for their rights.

Also, we have the issue of the layers of cognitive ability. The cognitive elites might be (not all, as some of us are wise) considered as the kings/barons. The rest along the cognitive scale are the barons/serfs, of old, who tolerate the "jerkiness."


What does truth engineering have to do with this? Lots. Firstly, the whole computational framework rests on shaky grounds. Then, when we add in the predilections of humans, we get a messy affair which is not outside of control. But, we do have a lot to learn; some of the issues are age-old (and, our 100+ years of experience pales in terms of the magnitude). Secondly, recognizing that there is a problem is essential. Even then, though, the mind baffles. ... Rich makes smart (Smart and its money)?

Remarks:   Modified: 07/03/2014

07/03/2014 --