Of Two Minds

I read Ethan Marcotte’s article about Google’s recently announced service / product called Duplex. In it, he lays out the following argument:

Frankly, this technology was designed to deceive humans. That’s not a value judgment, mind: the aim of the product is to act as human-sounding as possible. What’s more, the demos above are impressive because Duplex specifically withholds the fact that it’s not human. The net effect is, for better and for worse, a form of deception. Duplex was elegantly, intentionally designed to deceive. (And given that reality’s on shaky ground as it is, I don’t think this is the most responsible goal.)

I’m of two completely separate minds on this. One the one hand, I completely agree with the doubters thinking. Let’s not mince words here, Google, given its history, stands to be viewed upon with a hefty bit of skepticism when it comes to doing what’s “right”. But let’s say that’s not it. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say Google has every good intention in this particular space. What about others? What about the malicious folk out there? What about the people who are out there to scheme and cheat and rip people off? Isn’t Google giving them, right out of the gate, a tool to aid in their shenanigans?

This ultimately comes back to the old adage of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. I don’t know that we’ve held technology to that standard enough recently. A perfect example of this is the creation and, more importantly, the use of self-driving cars when the tech is not absolutely rock-solid.

Having said all of that, I was reading a tweet last night from someone whose name I have known for a while, but didn’t know a particular fact about. This gentleman stutters. Like me. He viewed this in a completely different light. His idea was that the Duplex “product” could be used in a very nice and productive way by people who have speech disabilities. Like he and I do. It was eye-opening. I think I even re-tweeted it with “Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, etc.”

Because I can completely see his point. I HATE talking on the phone. It makes me anxious, nervous, and scared. I get over it, and conquer it, but it’s an every-single-situation kind of thing. What if I didn’t have to do that but 40% of the time I do it now? That would help me. Would I like to be 60% less anxious? You’re damn right I would be.

The well-being of global society is still winning in my head, and I will go on record as thinking this might not be the best thing. But it’s not as much of a slam dunk as I would have originally thought.

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Educated

Educated

Earlier this week, someone left a comment on an article I’d written to shame me over a word they considered “not a word”. A few years ago this would have stung and left me feeling like an imposter. At age 42 I have very few fucks left to give about such pedantry.

Formal education gives you words and technical understanding, it helps you interact with other people on a level where you can all assume you have the same starting point. It isn’t everything, and perhaps my hard-won knowledge, learned from trying and failing and figuring things out alone is my greatest strength.

While I am a firm believer in higher education, and have spent a tremendous amount of time teaching and guiding my kids toward a successful future in college, I love the “fuck you” attitude from Rachel here. It’s unapologetically defiant. And coming from an unbelievably intelligent person that is shaping the world of web design as we speak, I applaud her so much.

Bravo, Rachel. Bravo.

Maybe it’s the battery

For many years, I’ve heard the (now) old adage of “Apple must be sabotaging my (current) iPhone because they want me to buy the new one”. I’ve always rolled my eyes at this, because it’s a classic consumer whine; the world (big company) is against me (playing the role of David in their own David and Goliath story).

I mean, come on. Yes, Apple must have written code specifically to jack up your special snowflake iPhone at exactly the time a new phone is coming out. Yeah, that’s plausible.

If that were true, a) there have been plenty of generations of these things by now and they’d have been caught at some point, and b) that’s just fucking preposterous.

Anyway,…

Having had almost every model of iPhone ever produced, I do know that as the years go on, they do become more randomly buggy. Again, I code for a living. And there’s no more frustrating than troubleshooting an issue or problem brought from a user that says “it’s random”.

Has anyone ever thought it might be a consequence of the batteries? And to that end, a consequence of the underlying battery technology in use in modern-day phones?

We use these batteries constantly. 24/7. 365. Batteries were never intended to last forever. And given the usage and charging habits we all have (I’ve never been able to keep up with the “right way” to charge a lithium ion battery), have we ever considered that the randomness of a failing battery might be the actual issue in random bugs and crashes as these devices age?

Just a thought…

Update: Maybe I was more right than I thought: Geekbench Results Visualize Possible Link Between iPhone Slowdowns and Degraded Batteries