Thursday, August 29, 2019

You don't seem to have a face

      All this social media stuff. What a waste. Arguing with strangers. Talking to ourselves, talking to computers, listening to computers, gazing at analytics that don't mean anything.
      I was postponing doing meaningful work Wednesday morning, and glanced at the portrait associated with my gmail account at the newspaper. My column bug from, gee, maybe 10 years ago. Maybe more. Out-of-date. The paper had a photographer shoot a new one earlier this year. They don't always use it, but it can take a long time for old stuff to work its way out of the system, and I'm not one to complain.
     This, I could change myself.
     So I clicked on the portrait, and the system easily pointed me toward inserting a new photo. I dragged in the new shot, jiggled with its positioning, clicked "Set as profile photo." Nothing. I tried a second time. That's when I noticed gmail's explanation of the problem.

    "Are you sure people will recognize you in this photo? It doesn't seem to have a face in it."
    Well, lah-de-fuckin'-dah. It sure seems like a face to me. But then, I'm biased. Older, sure, grey in the beard. But my face, and I'm sticking with it.
     Will people recognize it? Heck, some days I hardly recognize. I can't speak for all "people"—there's too much of that going around as it is.
     Annoying? Sure. But, honestly, I'm glad the system is so inadequate. I'm sure someday people will go to prison on this kind of error, but right now there are still a few bugs in the system, and that day isn't quite here yet, though the Chinese are rushing us toward it. Nor are they alone. This week it was learned that Amazon's Ring security system is partnering with 400 police departments, handing over images snatched from your doorbell camera for the "new neighborhood watch." An Orwellian phrase if ever there were, because that used to mean you watching the neighbors, and now it means strangers watching us all.
    Another reason not to have a doorbell camera.
    The third time, I got the photo to be accepted, using a very human strategy: I tried again, altering nothing from the first two attempts. Only this time it worked. Third time's the charm, as we used to say when we, you know, used to say stuff.
     There are still a few bugs in the system, thank God. The day this all works smoothly will be a scary day. Not that we'll notice anything is wrong.


  1. On this issue I'm torn. When I first noticed the ability to add your photo in various job and career websites, it seemed to provide a mechanism for people and employers to screen out undesired racial groups. Haven't heard any stories about this being the case. At least a few cases my photo in social media websites for groups and hobbies, allowed me to be recognized and also enabled me to identify people by sight, before introducing myself.

  2. The Lion King remake is what's really scary. If moviemakers can make the image of a real lion talk, they certainly will be able to display the image of a human being saying whatever the imagemaker wants it to say. Right now a skilled programmer with the latest tools could manipulate a video of President Trump to make it seem that he was saying something sensible, but the manipulation would be detectable, at least by another skilled computer expert. The day is fast approaching when such will be easy and very hard to detect. Hitherto foolproof video evidence will be worthless and whatever trust we now have in the veracity of the images and speech shown on television will disappear.


  3. What I find scary are those deep fake videos. The Steve Buscemi/Jennifer Lawrence one is mainly creepy, and the Bill Hader/Tom Cruise-Seth Rogan one is kind of cool, but as Tate says, the portents are a bit ominous.

  4. It's a good photo. Yes, my neighhbor has one of those doorbell cameras paid a mint and doubt he'll ever need it.

  5. Does anyone else hate that RING spot where the homeowner tells the two long-haired druggie thugs to GTFO before they can break in? "NOW, gentlemen...HUSTLE!" The dweeby little hipster sounds like a six-six Hell's Angel named Tiny, as the criminals skedaddle. Easy to talk tough from behind a keyboard.

    Anyone who tries that in Real Life had better be armed, or they will find themselves beaten to a pulp at the very least, if not carved up or ventilated. Most of the lowlifes who steal for a living also carry weapons.

    Just something about that dude rubs me the wrong way, and I usually end up cussing him out when I see him on the screen, and saying the same things I just said here.

  6. I limit my time spent on social media these days.
    Especially Twitter and YouTube.
    It numbs my brain.


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