Monday, 18 May 2009

I think, therefore I Spam?

I’ve been thinking about just how smart machines are and how much they really know about me.

Judging by the Spam that magically appears in my In Box every day, the Great Cyber Brain out there KNOWS that I am:

  • desperate for penile enhancement

  • waiting for the right investment opportunity for the millions burning a hole in my pocket

  • in need of prayers offered by obscure Evangelists

  • seeking the companionship of a good woman called Ludmilla

  • looking for a revolutionary weight loss plan that involves no diet or exercise

  • in the market for cheap Viagra

  • fluent in Russian and Japanese

  • likely to give my bank account details to someone promising me a share in a clandestine fortune

  • willing to believe that a miracle will happen if I forward a mail to 20 other people within the next 5 minutes

  • haven’t seen the Dalai Lama’s guidelines for a happy life at least 400 times.

Strange thing is, they’re wrong – or at least mostly wrong. When I was at school, 1 out of 10 meant a resounding 'F'.

Conclusion? Spam aint smart - Spam is dumb. We’re the smart ones. We just tend to forget it at times.

Spam could be smart, but frankly for most of us, it can’t be bothered. No matter how much we obsess about Big Brother and the pervasive and invasive nature of the www (the only acronym I know that takes three times as long to say as the thing it abbreviates), most of us are not really that interesting.

Big Brother and his Internet Thought Police don’t really care if I put sugar or sweetener in my morning coffee. Nor does it give a monkey’s dooh-dah what colour I dye my hair. Sure, they can sell that fascinating information (for the record: either brown sugar, & red with strawberry blonde highlights) to stealth advertisers who will then bombard me with sugar substitutes and hair dye offers. But I can always ignore them or (as I regularly do) hit the Delete button.

There is no intelligence at work. Just a database. A list of information which users (and abusers) try to match to their own criteria to identify 'victims'. Nothing more. No thought. No real judgement. No opinion.

Despite the fact that South Korea is already drawing up legislation to protect robotic rights, it is you and me (and even that moron next door) that represent the most phenomenal piece of cerebral engineering imaginable. And that’s not likely to change for as long as we refuse to surrender into a supine, vegetative state.

We have the divine ability to be bloody-minded and unreasonable, even when we know it’s not in our interests - to literally rage against the machine.

Problem is, it’s much easier to just go with the flow. After a hard day’s work, followed by the weekly supermarket fight to the death and mental acrobatics trying to balance our budget, who has the energy to actually THINK rather than let the flood of infotainment wash over us as we sprawl on the sofa?

But that way leads to slavery, with the machines as our masters. So, let’s get bloody-minded, take control of our own thoughts and reclaim our mastery over those dumb machines that were created to be our servants.

Now, where did I put my whip?

1 comment:

  1. What never ceases to annoy me is the legitimate mail that gets put willy-nilly into my Spam folder, prompting angry emails from people who I have neglected to reply to because my ISP has hidden their previous missive.

    With the Spam, I got so annoyed the other day that I fired off a, probably redundant, reply. It made me feel better and slightly smug that my writing was better than theirs but I imagine it was lost on the robots who sent it to me in the first place.

    I think AI is an oxymoron. Well, the "moron" bit is correct anyway. ;)a