You may have heard that DeepMind’s machine-learning program AlphaGo beat reigning world champion Lee Sedol in the ancient and complex game of Go. (Technically, AlphaGo has only won two of five matches, but the writing on the wall is clear.) More and more lately, artificial intelligence is in the news, gaining on the analogue world by leaps and bounds. I’m glad of this, despite the accompanying proliferation of media fear-mongering. Hardworking programmers and data scientists are accelerating the future; they deserve recognition. (Shoutout to Francis Tseng!)
Unfortunately the present — I know Exolymph’s gimmick is the future-present, but in this case I mean the past-present — consists of tediously logging back in on website after website. Daily life is so mundane compared to the cutting edge. I restored my laptop to factory defaults, which is great because it’s not broken anymore, but I had to reenter my username and password(s) all over the place. It was a little disturbing to realize how many companies have dossiers of data about me. I don’t expect anything bad to happen to that information, but it’s an inherent vulnerability. What if I had a stalker? What if I want to pursue investigative journalism at some point?
The connecting thread between AlphaGo’s prowess and the way privacy keeps slipping away from individuals is that software is eating the world. We’re subsumed by technology, by the math that powers flashing lights behind screens. I’m okay with it. Human nature is fundamentally the same — all that’s changed is the conduit.