Toonify has an app that let’s you covert a photo of yourself into something resembling yourself as a Pixar character. Everyone is complaining about their toonified image, so I decided to give it a try. Here’s the starting point:
Well, this is what I got. Don’t let children look at it.
What am I? A hobbit on Venus? My cousin, Kessel Junkie, with microcephaly? At least now I have my hair back.
Okay, I know what your thinking. Between the glasses and the background, I broke the conversion algorithm. So, I tried this one.
Stable background, no glasses. What could go wrong? Look away while you still have the chance.
Okay, how about this one?
Here we have a white background and white shirt, and at a better resolution without that screwed up eyeball touchup. Third time’s the charm, right?
Now I’m a hobbit in a meat locker or some such shit. Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. Maybe I need to take a photo of me in a pretty bad place so that I’m bound to improve. I mean, artificial intelligence may be subject to reverse psychology just like we are. Here’s one when I weighed over 300 pounds.
Seriously? It may have well just linked me to Pearl from Blade.
Dammit! I shall not be denied. Maybe I can intimidate the algorithm.
This guy looks like he couldn’t beat up Napoleon Dynamite. I’m going to give this another shot.
This defies explanation, but that’s never stopped me from trying. This looks like the skin of a baby turned into a doll. They could write a horror movie out of this one.
Like Pinocchio, that doll became a real boy and then grew up. If anyone makes a horror movie about this character, I’ll sue for the rights.
I think it’s safe to say that none of your pictures are really that bad, and I couldn’t get one good picture from any of my photos, so I . . . win, I guess?
If yours is worse, you’re going to have to prove it. Until then, quit your bitching.
I’ve seen a lot of (private) censorship going on by Facebook, and now it’s hit me right in the nuts. My “posting and replying privileges” were suspended for 24 hours because I made two jokes over the course of thirteen days that “violated community standards.”
RJS: “I have a long list of things I’d like to see improved with the coming administration, but one thing on that list, and I’m not going to say where it falls, is the decriminalization of a certain substance. Can’t. Wait.”
JD: “Okay now for sure if you and I ever both make the insane decision to attend a con in person, and it happens to be the same con at the same time…. Yeah, that.”
Calling people hippies is something I’m known to do whenever someone disagrees with me (a la Eric Cartman), but it seemed particularly appropriate here. Continuing . . .
RJS: “Frog enthusiasts.”
This, of course, meant that RJS and JD licked toads. Unfortunately, I had a brain fart and thought he was referring to me as a frog enthusiast, and that I was missing some sort of reference. Mea culpa. So, not knowing what he was talking about, I responded, “Mais je deteste les Francais” (“But I hate the French.”). Get it? The French are frogs. Not my best work, I know, but it was just a goofy response to something I didn’t immediately understand.
That was deemed hate speech. Here’s some discussion on it from a subsequent post, again if you have access.
First concert – Billy Joel Last concert – 38 Special (with Erik Nowak) Best Concert – Iron Maiden Worst concert – Jimmy Buffett Loudest concert – Iron Maiden (I was on the floor) Seen the most – Billy Joel (twice) Most surprising – Cowboy Mouth (soooo good) Next concert – It’ll be a while. I’m not a huge concertgoer. Wish I could have seen – Fleetwood Mac, RUSH, Genesis, George Benson
Someone responded “’Last’ sounds so final. Perhaps ‘most recent’?” I replied, “I plan to kill everyone who responds.” I assume that was deemed terroristic threatening.
Basically, Facebook’s algorithm (and apparently the humans that perform the follow up review) can’t distinguish obvious humor from actual hate speech or terrorism. Of course, neither can many people nowadays, so I guess there’s always going to be a market for Facebook’s humorless bubble. However, if you’re in that group, you’re a tiny minority. Most people get it, and the only way Facebook will learn to stop catering to such a small minority is for people to either reduce their presence or leave altogether.
I think I’m going to do my part. I’ve been looking for an excuse to part ways with Facebook, and they just handed me one. My presence is going to be greatly reduced until I settle on another option. I’ll refocus my efforts towards Twitter and my blogs, so if you want to connect on Twitter, just send me a Facebook private message. I have several different handles that deal with different subject matter (geekdom, sports, politics, and law) in order to reduce the noise. As long as I’m still on Facebook, if I see something interesting there, I’ll respond via my Twitter feeds (quick responses) and blog sites (verbose responses). I’ll link to my posts via the Facebook news feed but won’t engage in discussions there, relying only on my posts’ comments sections. I don’t mind discussion on my Facebook wall; I’m just saying I won’t be part of that discussion or even follow it. Will you really miss me though?
This Isn’t the End of the World, but It’s No Small Matter
I’m an attorney. I’m well aware of the distinction between private and public censorship. Private censorship is almost always legal, and public censorship is almost always illegal. Facebook, Twitter, and other “microblogging platforms” are private entities largely permitted to suppress speech, but they’re clearly heading for (if not already there) an oligopoly (i.e., a monopoly, but where there are a tiny number of providers rather than just one), which means antitrust law applies.
While many of you hate the people who joined Parler, don’t you still find it troublesome that, the moment a competitor started to gain a serious foothold in the market, one of Twitter’s companions, Amazon Web Services, effectively bankrupted them by cutting off their access with a 30-hour notice? If MeWe gets too popular, they could be next. Facebook and Twitter could cut out all competition, leaving you no other options, and once that happens, who knows what rules they’ll impose? The fact that one’s access to the primary avenue to communicate with others (i.e., speech), in a pandemic no less, is the precise service being suppressed makes this even more troublesome regardless of whether the government is doing it.
Each of these cases turn on their facts, so I’m not going to condemn or complement the Court’s denial of an injunction in Parler’s suit. Also, this one incident isn’t the end of the world. I’m simply pointing out the immense market power these companies have and how they’re making sure they never lose it. Sooner or later, that will result in an antitrust violation, and the violation will be to everyone’s primary means to connect in the Internet Age. Everyone thinks they’re virtuous, but these giants could easily come for you next. Whether they’re destined to throw you out, or you’re destined to get sick of it and leave by own free will, maybe it’s time to form an exit plan just in case. While doing so, don’t be your own worst enemy by letting these guys off the hook.
My exit plan is under construction. The fact that one is even necessary is evidence advancing my argument.
Returning now to my recent car purchase, I’ve learned just how bad of a driver I am. I always knew how bad a parker I was, but now I realize that my cruising practices are pretty bad too. The car is fully loaded, which includes all the safety features: blind side detection, intelligent cruise control, lane assist, auto-break, etc. Every time I do something stupid, the car lowers the volume on my music and beeps at me. For the first couple of weeks, that happened a lot. It’s not happening nearly as much now, but damn if the car hasn’t taught me to drive. I still can’t park, but it’s okay, because my self-awareness on that had me heavily relying on the parking features from the moment I bought the car.
I also know that you suck too. That’s right; all of you. My experiences have made me far more aware of my surroundings even when they don’t impact me directly, and it seems like everyone weaves over the lines as they drive. I can tell when other cars have intelligent cruise control because they maintain the same two-second rule. What happened to the three-second rule? That’s for silly humans. When the car is driving, it needs only two seconds. It’s better than you.
We all know how humans argue. We don’t listen; we just wait for our turn to speak so we can claim our opponent is wrong. As a result, we hear maybe a sentence or two of an argument, then fill in the missing pieces with our own assumptions and prejudgments about what we think our opponent is arguing. The result is that we hear only a portion of what they say, and even worse interpret their argument in the opposite way in which it was intended.
But it’s not completely our fault. Twitter gives us only 280 characters per tweet, and even if we chain them together, people will usually see only a single tweet in that chain. This reinforces our tendency to address only a portion of our opponent’s argument. As the conversation continues and others contribute, the effect snowballs into a real mess, and you don’t always remember to whom you’ve already clarified your points, meaning you make assumptions about what they understand.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Twitter is so popular and that it’s effect on dialogue mirrors the way we choose to discuss politics and religion. We choose to use Twitter because it’s how we argue. The cure to this social disease is to address only those topics that can be covered in 280 characters. If you want to blog, then blog. If you want to write a PhD dissertation, go back to school. Then it’s not your fault when people choose to miss the point. Otherwise, it is your fault.
I’ve have the Matrix movies playing in the background while I work on some trademark matters. I know that many people hated the second and third movies, Reloaded and Revolutions, and I wasn’t a big fan of them either. I find it annoying that no one in the movie can speak in a normal tone of voice, using either yelling or a whisper. No, that doesn’t make you sound cool. It makes you sound like a pretentious idiot who thinks he’s cool. However, I had to watch them again because I wanted to do so within the context of an interesting fan theory I learned by spending too much time reading Cracked.com.
The theory goes like this: What you know as the Matrix is a computer simulation. That’s simple enough; no surprises there. What you know as the movie’s real world is also a computer simulation. The Matrix is a simulation within that outer simulation. What this means is that Zion is a computer simulation, and Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and all the other pretentious serial whisperers are computer programs. The reason for the existence of the layers is that the computer programs (i.e., Neo, Morpheus, etc.) are being trained to think like humans. They’re being taught to express love, to place the needs of others over themselves, and generally to govern their behavior by more than mere statistics. (Think of Will Smith’s monologue in the also-maligned I, Robot. He points out that a human being would have known to save the girl rather than him despite Will Smith being the statistically-correct choice.) The fan theory also explains Neo’s superman powers outside the Matrix. If the “real world” is just another computer simulation, then it’s explainable that a blinded Neo can see the machines, that Neo can affect them with his powers, and that Agent Smith was capable of “possessing” a “real world” character, Bane. Finally, this also explains that the trilogy didn’t really have an ending. Neo just won, not for some logical reason, but because … he just did. All the Agent Smiths just exploded because Neo … I don’t know … infected them? Well, who cares? No explanation for how that happened is necessary. It’s just important that he did. I guess the programs learned their lesson, so it was no longer necessary for there to be a war.
The theory has one downside I see: An anticlimactic ending. If what I’ve described is what was going on the whole time, then as the credits roll, you’ve got to be thinking, “So no one was ever in any danger? This whole thing was essentially an elaborate movie … to the characters _in_ the movie? Awwwwwww, shucks! I was apparently watching some nerd writing lines of programming code for six or seven hours.” On the other hand, that’s what you’re doing in real life anyway when you go to a movie, especially one like Megamind that’s nothing but computer animation.
While I didn’t need to watch several hours of the movie to appreciate the fan theory — I probably could have not watched it as all — it made the movies completely different films at least worthy of the rewatch. Neo, et al. the programs are learning hope, love, forgiveness, and many other things that machines currently can’t learn, but above all else going beyond one’s programming and exercising free will. Perhaps it’s only through “living” these experiences that the lessons can ever sink into artificial intelligence.
Or not. I’m no expert in artificial intelligence. It’s a neat theory, though, and one that makes for decent drama. Just ask Commander Data.