This is a really a fascinating person. He is eloquent, which I have the impression that his mind runs million miles per second. You can feel it's churning at a speed so to compose the next line and the next thought, which now while writing, feels so different from Linus, whose Q&A sessions filled w/ pauses that he would try to express his view while choosing words, but at the end of day it was just a topic he had no feeling of, and no interest in, which quite like what I feel these days → you feel compelled to express if you have a view and have a feeling of something, someone; while for others, well, I really don't care, and have no interested in saying anything, whether it is pleasing to audience or not.

    What touched me, and got me think today, is Frank said about technology. He asked technology to think harder how people can use it in a self-serving way, and to build a box around it so to circumvent its abuse. This is quite in the same call that people talk about facebook fiasco, which I have ranted my view on social media. It feels right, and actually I'd like to see it happen. But as an engineer who implements these technology, I feel challenged.

    it is actually practical

    First of all, I don't think it is practical to even foresee how people can abuse your technology. Like when any sharp knife is banned on airplane after 911. To me, if I'm intending to do harm to people, then without accessing to a sharp knife becomes an inconvenience, not a stopper. What about the fork they issued you at lunch? and even a chord of some sort will be enough to strangle someone. But I also think this logic is valid, because this is the same for, say, bike locks, that it doesn't stop bike thief, just makes his stealing harder, takes longer, thus increasing his risk of being caught, which in turn deterring him from trying.

    Therefore, the prevention logic is not to stop, but to raise the bar so your determination has to rise higher than before in order to tip off to the evil side. Yes if you are hardcore, nothing is going to stop you; well, then, since being a hardcore is not defined, quantified, and rare, thus playing w/ human nature of being lazy and satisfied w/ mediocrity, this strategy will work. Make sense.

    build-in to fail

    But even so, there can be million ways to self-serve my technology, which, if I were the inventor, can not be held responsible because I just could not know. Think about kids. Any parent can relate million stories when kid picks up something and use it in a creative way, which in adult's eyes it was purely playing w/ fire! We will yell at the kid, blame the supervising adult, but also like to hear some apologies from that manufacturer/inventor, for a emotional comfort I guess. Why so!?

    I think underline there is this feeling of guilt when things like that happen.

    1. Parent feels bad of themselves since they are the one responsible for enlightening the kid not to do such thing.
    2. They also feel bad that their breed turn out to be absent-minded adventurer (and don't all parents think their child is the best, smartest, or at least we all hope/wish so, even reality speaks differently!?), which is against his/her view of their product.
    3. Then, if Eve ate the apple, snake is to be hated, thus the external influences — manufacturers, bad friends, commercials, violent movies, and so on.
    4. The apple also appears to be in fault ← why are you so enticing!? If only you taste just bad, then the kid would not have taken attention of you!

    I don't know. I think the chain can go quite long, and you can see many echos in these chain that, in different story lines, a couple of these points are manifested to be the top-level significance, but eventually w/ discussion developed, all these points (and more) will be linked and derived, so that essentially this loop of logics keep repeating themselves.

    This then raises a question — if we will drag out all these points anyway in all the incidents, then we really don't have a clue of what to blame, and how to solve it then! If borrowing a common cliche in love scene, that if your relationships always go sore in the same way ← meeting the same type of date, had similar process then similar breakups, then there is built-ins of you is the cause, because you are the common denominator!

    Therefore, parallelly, if we always feel these steps in the logic above when something goes awry, shouldn't it also point to a built-in feature of you (or the kid) that is actually the common denominator!?

    I think so. It's not the apple, or the snake. It is Eve herself, who possessed this sense of curiosity stronger than, say, Adam, thus she is receptive to snake's talk, thus have a lower bar to become her version of hardcore → nothing is going to stop her from tipping off, if it wasn't the apple, the story will be a pear, or a peach, or, how about an evil watermelon!?... hahaha....

    what's the solution

    This leads another conversation. We all talk about social responsibility, or just responsibility in general. I do think people, or good people, are responsible people. But then, since we can't not foresee how a product can be used by bad people, how can I claim to be a responsible engineer? Are we at mercy of these bad/creative guys who use our technology for an end which we disagree? and how can we gain/regain control if we don't like at mercy in others' hands?

    In the aftermath of WWII, people pleaded for conscience of bad guys that they lost common sense and committed horrible deeds. But they also evoked the same logic to defend themselves that their job/task was but a screw on a giant machine, what's for the screw to know and to determine this machines does, and to stop it!? There is question about information ← whether screw is made to be aware of the machine's function, and his role in it; and another question of capability ← that screw can cripple this machine. Both of these, are easier said than done, and I think that is the reality.

    But there is hope, and hope lies in recognition of free information flow assisted w/ technology. If you look at the question above, the capability has an underline message that a screw is too small of a scale in front of machine. Yet, quantity will change it, because the machine is composed nothing but all these screws! So when 1 screw changes nothing, 90% of screws can not stop the machine, it can change this machine into something entirely different, like transformer!

    So how to amass quantity? Brain wash, of course, for one. But I will never agree w/ that, because it is a top-down approach — an idea is imposed upon us, not our own ideas bubbling up. The key, is information free flow. Only by informing this single tiny screw of the entire machine, of what his role affects the outcome, can the screw makes a link — some crew cares, some don't; some makes a link that is factually right, while others make skewed version — no matter!

    Only with this background can one be possible to see result of his action, even remotely, and start to build a sense of his role and his effect, and this is the foundation of developing responsibility.

    Therefore, technology itself has not right or wrong. It's a tool. User has built-ins that she can do nothing about, and will manifest on these tools in a way that was unexpected. That's fine. Human nature, is, nature. As long as we allow such incidents be reported, evaluated, and learn to build guards around these past incidents, we are on the path of becoming responsible. I don't believe there is an end game, like the ultimate responsibility of some kind, so being on the trajectory and has the capability to iterate so to approximate an ideal state, even indefinitely unachievable, is all we need, is all we got.

    — by Feng Xia


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