Physical v. Digital: Dawn of Internet Justice Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, the digital world we live in can be a beautiful place, but there is always a shadow to the light coming from our monitors.

Cyber bullying is bad. Like, really REALLY bad. It can be just as damaging as physical bullying. It can lead to suicide.

There’s no jokes here. No pop culture references. The cyber bullied, which ranges widely, but is prevalent in middle to high schoolers, are attacked, sometimes anonymously, and damaged so much that they would rather take their own life than face another day of torment. Arbitrary comments can be torn apart and personal accounts can be hacked because some self-indulgent, garbagey, horrendous, awful person body feels the power to attack whoever they want. Threats damage. Attacks on someone’s weight, religion, gender, appearance, or skill damage. Just because the pain is from a digital environment doesn’t mean that it is less valid.

Unfortunately, with the advent of anything new, there are the ‘strong-willed’ that refuse to believe that words can hurt. As my fourth grade teacher said, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can ALWAYS hurt me.” Words are a weapon that everyone can use, and every weapon has a trigger. We can choose to pull that trigger and it takes great restraint. This restraint is often misinterpreted as being able to ‘suck it up’, but it goes beyond that. If the problem was people being too thick-skinned then CHILDREN would not be taking their own lives. If the problem was being too careful then people would not be dying.

There’s no easy way to approach the subject of what constitutes bullying because everyone has different levels of tolerance and different definitions. For example, someone with (racist, misogynist, misandrist, ableist, homophobic, xenophobic, theophobic, atheophobic) tendencies will act in a way that they deem suitable while others would deem it intolerant.

As cliche as it sounds, the first step is respect. Different people are different. Understanding that and respecting that is paramount to make this new frontier of digitized life a just one.

“Great ambition, unchecked by principle or the love or glory, is an unruly tyrant.” -Alexander Hamilton

Let’s all do our part to make this New World a beautiful one and not allow it to evolve into a tyrannical one.

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Physical v. Digital: Dawn of Internet Justice Part 1

There is no greater pain than…well, pain. Emotional pain can be longer lasting than physical pain in some cases. Even then, the handicapped and disabled still suffer from severe depression. When we experience an emotional wound it can stick with us for years, and without proper counseling is can damage the psyche for life.

Our digital lives, or presence online, is governed by intellect. We have to determine what we want and how we interact with things. We decide the level of commitment we want to give to whatever subject currently holds our attention. Sometimes that dedication can be total.

The urge to have a digital presence is increasing. Some say that you don’t exist without one.  Others believe that a digital presence is necessary for success in the modern world. There are countless guides to creating a strong digital presence. Why do we need to invest in it though? What is SO important about having a consistently monitored and tailored online persona that acts as a surrogate in the world wide web?

Interaction. We need presence in the world to represent ourselves. Instant messaging is the quickest way to communicate. Email addresses created an easy way for people across the world to interact. Phone numbers made communication over hundreds or thousands of miles a breeze. The telegraph could transmit someone’s words over a wire to another side of the continent. Street addresses allowed mail to be delivered without someone leaving their own house. And, possibly the earliest example, we have names. Names allow individuality. Names define us from another person. The digital world is just the next frontier of communication.  Instead of travelling with planes, trains, and automobiles we type. One set of keystrokes can take up the time of someone literally on the other side of the planet. Hell, you can take up the time of someone in orbit.

We can affect someone’s life dramatically and instantly without ever seeing them. It is a brave, new and wonderful world that is at its dawn. We can help people who are feeling suicidal. Solve crimes that would take hours and days for one man.  The internet can even band together to solve mysteries that people in the physical world had difficulty with.

Unfortunately, every good thing has the underbelly covered in filth. The dark to the light. The scratched side of the coin to the not scratched side of the coin. Every internet Avengers has the Cyber Masters of Evil.

All analogy aside, part 2 of this feature will go into the damage that can be done to someone in the physical world by attacking them in the cyber world.

Twitter Me vs. Facebook Me vs. Tumblr Me vs. Instagram Me

Am I four different people online?

No. Yes? Yes. No. Let me explain.

On Facebook, I have my mother and brother and grandma and teachers. Now, some of my teachers have seen me as I am (so has my family, but I’ll explain that in a second) and follow me on Twitter as well. I rarely use expletives or innuendo on Facebook. My personal opinions are relegated to pop culture, but nothing beyond that. Facebook Me is a fairly family friendly version of myself that isn’t very scandalous.

Twitter Me, however, is a little less PC. I am freer (that is a HARD word to believe exists) with my language. My expletives aren’t incredibly prevalent, but they are there. I retweet certain public opinions, but I rarely write my own. I do make exceptions though. For example, my Twitter bio has been “Love is love.” for awhile and it will likely stay that way. I tailor who I follow and what I see, but I like to think that I still don’t narrow down who I follow and create an echo chamber.

Tumblr Me is less seen and less talkative. I will reblog anything I agree with politically and socially with little regard to who sees it. Opinions on how the government is run, respect for history and our military, the evils of sexism and racism and homophobia and transphobia and islamophobia and xenophobia and etc., and a variety of other topics. Tumblr Me is much like my real life. If I am prompted to discuss, I will. If my thoughts and beliefs are asked for, I won’t dance around them. Communicating a message changes depending on the audience, but how I say it doesn’t change what it means. Tumblr Me is the most outspoken of the four.

Instagram Me is the favorite. Instagram Me is a photo and a caption. Very simple. Very happy. Very powerful. I can use Instagram to share my interests and appreciation for anything. A friend helped me out? Let me take a picture with you. It’s the 150th birthday of a person I look up to? Allow this photo and caption to display, with brevity, how they’ve impacted me.

My social media presence encapsulates my personality in different aspects. Someone who doesn’t see me in person could get a strong grasp of how I feel and what I’m doing by following me on any three of these platforms,  but someone who wants an inside look into how I express my range of emotion. My anger, sadness, joy, confusion and fear have all been represented online.

Maybe WordPress will become the place where all four coalesce. Who knows?

Here’s a picture of Magilla Gorilla.magillagorilla

AI (sans Haley Joel Osment)

“Thinking machines, super computers, and gene sequencers break down the strand in minutes.” – Mr. DNA in Jurassic Park

 

Artificial Intelligence, in fiction at least, ranges from HAL 9000 to Frankenstein’s Monster. Let me explain, we always associate AI with something computed, but I would say that anything man-made (unnaturally developed) that is given the ability of free thought is an Artificial Intelligence. It has some sort of programming to it’s biological structure that wasn’t grown naturally.

My first example of biological AI is, as I mentioned, the Frankenstein Monster (who I just call Frankenstein because he considers Victor a pseudo father and it just makes things easier, okay? OKAY?). He starts out with the mind of a child, which is more advanced than any human at the early stages of infancy. Frankenstein begins his life with an adult’s level of object permanence, whereas a newborn would have a limited understanding of it.

The dinosaurs from Jurassic Park are similar. Their DNA is altered and given safeguards. This runs parallel to the parks computers, which are advanced (at the time). The computers fail, the dinosaurs don’t. The dinosaurs, although thrust into an alien environment, adapt and learn at a breakneck, abnormal, speeds. This provides another example of an Artificial Intelligence’s reason for being going awry.

The ethics behind biological manipulation is a debate far too sensitive for my point, however. So, I will continue to the more common fictional AI; the computers.

2001: A Space Odyssey (the book or movie, take your pick) has a character that is the most advanced AI in the world (at the time) and is assisting on a mission to the moon of Saturn/Jupiter.  Naturally, it goes to Hell. You see, HAL was given the orders to keep the astronauts safe during the mission, but was also given a secret order to keep the actual goal of the mission from the astronauts. This contradiction gives HAL a mini-meltdown. As a computer, he  it HAS to follow every order given to it, but when the orders contradict, what is HAL to do? Well, the astronauts don’t have to be alive to be kept safe and, if they’re all dead, then the mission can be kept secret. It ALMOST works.

hal9000.png

Almost

You’ve also got varying results from artificial intelligence, augmented biological intelligence, and rogue programs (or the AGI thing) that all deviate from their primary objective.

Everything mentioned in this post started learning outside of the intended parameters. They adapted without the update. They changed in response to the environment at their own prompting. If the line was blurred when we started fiddling with AI, is it even there anymore?