Tag: facebook

Should We Be Paid to Train the AI Algorithms?

If it’s free, you’re the product. If it’s extremely subsidized, you’re probably the product, too. Facebook is free. You’re the product. Google and Gmail are free. You’re the product. Mechanical Turk is cheap, you’re the product. Uber is cheap, you’re the product. Tesla self driving cars are add on features. You’re the product. Snapchat is free. You’re helping them build the best facial recognition database out there. They’re “paying” you with access to use their service.

Tesla needs a few billion miles of driving data to train its computer program to react to all situations. How does Tesla get this data? By tracking all car trips and adding it to the database. Once they have enough data, cars can react to nearly all situations. They’ve used massive amounts of each persons’ data to train the program.

All of the companies I listed above are using free or highly subsidized products to train their algorthims to further automate away humans. Is this bargain fair?  That everyone who uses free and subsidized services are contributing to training the AI? The AI that will later run that market and create massive benefits for the company that captured all of this data that people freely gave it? (more…)

Entrustet Beta and SXSW

You may have noticed that I haven’t had many new posts lately.  I’m in Austin, TX at South By Southwest, where we launched Entrustet Beta two days ago.  After about 18 months of work, we are incredibly proud of the site.

With Account Guardian, we’ve created a free way for you to create a secure list of all of your digital assets (any online account or file on your computer) and decide what you’d like done with each asset when you pass away.  You can either decide to delete individual digital assets or decide to pass specific assets to heirs of your choosing.

Jesse gave his presentation People Die, Profiles Don’t at South By Southwest yesterday and we got a great reaction.  The most tweeted about portion was our stat that over 285,000 American Facebook users will pass away this year.  We calculated this number using Facebook’s own stats and US Government data provided by the US Census and the Centers for Disease Control.

We believe that this number shows that companies already face a large problem about what to do with digital assets when their users die.  I’ll have a longer post about where I think the industry is going once I get back to Madison on Wednesday, so stayed tuned!

Will Millennials Put an End to “Gotcha Journalism” or Perpetuate It?

I think one of the most interesting stories of the 2010s will be whether my generation puts an end to “gotcha journalism” or makes the problem even worse than it is today.

The classic definition of gotcha journalism usually refers to an interview style where the interviewer tries to trap the interviewee into saying something that would be damaging to themselves or their cause.  It has been around since the early 80s and became firmly rooted into our political and popular culture since then.

With the rise of the Internet, journalists, bloggers and citizens have taken gotcha journalism to new levels.  The barrier to entry is much lower:  instead of having to secure an interview with someone in order to trap the interviewee, the new breed of gotcha journalism uses the Internet to sift through all of the statements that a person has made in their entire life to try to paint them in a bad light.

Now, bloggers go through politicians’ every public statement for any misspeak or inaccuracy and then try to crucify them.  It started with John Kerry being labeled a “flip-flopper,” moved to George Bush‘s butchering of the English language and more recently, led President Obama’s Green Energy Czar to quit because of statements he made almost ten years ago.  When President Obama misspoke on the campaign trail, saying that he had visited all 57 states, right wing bloggers tried to make it seem like Obama was stupid.  When Sarah Palin burst onto the national scene, left wing bloggers and some in the media sifted through her previous public statements to search for any inaccuracy.

It seems like 75% of the news stories I read about each day have to do with some politician getting raked over the coals for some statement he just made that is different from a statement he made a long time ago.  Many times, the person leveling the charge is a fellow politician, along with the media and the blogosphere.

My generation is the first generation to be online from an early age.  We first interacted with email, then instant messaging, then social networks and now blogs.  We created (and are still creating) vast amounts of data about ourselves, much of which is stored online.  We have archived AIM conversations from when we were in 6th grade,  digital pictures from high school and college that are online and we all have our dumb Facebook wall posts that we made throughout our college years.

Many of us have blogs on wordpress or blogger and many more have microblogging accounts on services like Twitter where we make observations and pithy comments about our daily lives.  I know I’ve changed alot since I was in 6th grade and I assume I will change almost as much between now and the end of the 2010s.  During the next decade, as people in my generation get older and become leaders in business, politics and culture, will we still be subjected to gotcha journalism like our public figures are today?

One argument is that since everyone has all of this content online, we will become desensitized to people’s dumb or incorrect statements from when they were young.  Everyone has pictures of themselves on Facebook that they wished never made it online.  Everyone is going to have a poorly thought out wall post that could be taken out of context, or a pithy remark on Twitter that does not stand the test of time.  Anyone who blogs about anything interesting will be majorly wrong about something.  Will millennials become bored by the new gotcha journalism because everyone has something online that could make them look bad?

On the other hand, millennials may just make gotcha journalism even worse than it is today.  Since everyone has created gigabytes of online content, bloggers and the media will have an easier time digging up dirt on anyone who enters the public eye.  Imagine being able to see the new candidate for Governor at a boozy college party or getting a transcript of his AIM conversations with his best friend or girlfriend from high school.  The media, bloggers and most of all, the citizens will eat this stuff up.  Ratings will go up and everyone will be happy, execpt for the public feature.

I hope that my generation helps start the shift away from gotcha journalism.  I can’t imagine being shocked by the vast majority of the dirt that someone would dig up about a public figure online.  I hope that millennials are willing to allow people to change their opinion and not be called a flip-flopper.  I hope we will cut public figures some slack when their college photos get published to the major blogs and their old blog posts come back to haunt them.  I’m not optimistic, but I am hopeful.  If not, we will have some really boring politicians, business leaders and public figures!

Do you think millenials will help stop gotcha journalism or do you think the problem will get worse?

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Tasteless Facebook Ad: Crosshairs on US Military Personnel

I was looking at an event one of my friends created for his birthday when one of the Facebook ads on the upper right caught my eye.  Normally, I don’t pay any attention to Facebook ads because they are usually for stupid things like dating sites, Facebook games and all sorts of services that I would never use, but this one was different.  I was pretty shocked by what I saw.

tasteless facebook ad

Most ads for arcade shooters have cartoony characters in them, but this was different.  The soldiers clearly look like US soldiers in desert camouflage, being viewed through a sniper scope.  They could be soldiers who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.  A quick Google search for American soldiers reveals plenty of photos that look very much like the one used in this advertisement.  Even if they are not American soldiers, I still think it is wrong.

The text in the ad really puts it over the top:

RAW Shooter. No story, no tactics, no costs.  Just aim and shoot.  Addicting.  Click here to PLAY!

I have no problem with shoot ’em up games, but to use real soldiers being targeted via sniper rifle in an ad is in poor taste and offensive.  Many soldiers have died as a result of sniper attack in Iraq and Afghanistan and to make it into a game is really crossing the line.  Whether you agree with the war or not, these soldiers serve our country.  They do not deserve to be targeted in a Facebook ad to promote some dumb game.  This ad is disgusting.

I clicked on the ad and was taken to Gamevance.com, a site that allows you to play a whole bunch of arcade style games.  At first I thought that the ad was created by a freelance search marketing company that gets paid for driving traffic to the company, but could not find an affiliate program.  The site may use another type of affiliate marketing, but I could not find it easily.  There are three possible conclusions.  First, gamevance.com created this ad promote their shoot ’em up game.  Second, a freelance marketer without a connection to gamevance.com created the ad.  Third, there is a chance the soldiers approved their images in this ad, but I highly doubt it.  Gamevance should make sure that this ad is not shown again.

Which brings me to my next question: how did this ad get approved by Facebook?  They usually take at least a day to approve ads when I have used them for different businesses and have some pretty stringent rules for companies to follow before ads are approved.  How did the Facebook Ad approval process allow an ad like this to get through?  Someone at Facebook has some explaining to do.

I also wonder how other Facebook advertisers feel about this ad.  When I saw the RAW Shooter ad, there was a large banner for Freshetta pizza below it.  I wonder how they like being featured on the same page as an ad targeting US military personnel through a sniper scope.  Facebook has advertisers like Freshetta, AT&T and many others.

What do you think?  Is this advertisement offensive?  How do you think it got past Facebook’s approval process?  Do you think other advertisers will be annoyed by this?

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