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I think by 'silliness' he's referring to "Girls who live nearby who are single and like Getting drunk!" Fair call in my opinion.

I made this point in another post: the take-away from this link shouldn't be how bad it was of Facebook to not realise that making available powerful search tools for already-public data might put some people in an unfortunate spotlight. The real take-away is that we shouldn't live in a world where people should be scared to be openly gay in Iran, or openly a Falun Gong member in China. Those are the things we should focus on and try and change. And we should appreciate, rather than chastise, the tools which make us realise that there are things we need to improve in the world.




This isn't an opportunity for wishful thinking. Read about what's happened to Walid Husayin, a Palestinian man from the West Bank, since blogging openly about being an atheist:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walid_Husayin

All the stuff he's gone through—death threats, imprisonment, torture—has been for the sole "crime" of apostasy.

This graph search is going to enable sadists to lower their bar for finding victims from "people who openly and loudly proclaim their beliefs" to "people who accidentally clicked 'like' or forgot to fix their privacy settings." I have some difficulty deflecting the blame for Walid's treatment to simply being born on the wrong side of a fence. He may have known better, or perhaps he is on a crusade for religious freedom, but it's going to get a lot harder when we start talking about people with no interest in being martyrs being tortured and killed for this great cause of openness and improving the world.


I can see your point. I'm not saying it's a pleasant prospect to consider. I do consider these sorts of things inevitable teething pains of a one-way process though. Perhaps that seems a little harsh.


I'm not sure what you mean by "one-way process." I think there are certainly situations where bad things happen yet nobody is responsible and nothing needs to be done differently. I do think randomness plays a big role in my arriving at that conclusion, and I don't see a very big role for randomness in the potential abuses of graph search.


Often the best first step to stop something evil is to remove the tools that make evil's job easier. In this case Facebook is facilitating persecution by making better and better tools to filter data on a large number of people simultaneously. If you want persecution to stop you can't just automatically absolve Facebook of responsibility for the consequences of the design choices they make. Sure people should be careful about what they post online but Facebook and the companies advertising on it offer incentives to get people to do it. Past 'likes' will now be easily accessible forever. It isn't only what you've put on your profile, inferences can be drawn based on the information about your friends. If all your friends are openly gay but you don't want others to know you're gay it can now quickly be deduced with a search.


>And we should appreciate, rather than chastise, the tools which make us realise that there are things we need to improve in the world.

What? Of course we all want the world to be a better place, but Facebook has no right to put people's lives in danger to try and force the issue. If they're so worried about making the world a better place they should do it themselves, not just open the flood gates on their users.


> we shouldn't live in a world where people should be scared to be openly gay in Iran, or openly a Falun Gong member in China. Those are the things we should focus on and try and change.

Right. Wonderful. How?


How should I know?


So in the mean time it's ok that this sort of tool is freely accessible to make it real easy to persecute them?


You could watch The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski.


Bought this series on DVD recently, only watched a few episodes but it really is great. His presenting style leaves a little to be desired but this is a man of extraordinary intelligence and breadth of knowledge.

If anyone is wondering on the subject matter, it plots of the ascent of man not in terms of biological evolution but cultural evolution - which seems to me to be an oft overlooked facet of how we came to be.


Sounds interesting. Any reason in particular you're recommending it?


Well, it's fantastic, but what makes it germane here is because the author/narrator switched from being a mathematician/physicist to a biologist mid-career because he saw no other way to continue working on nuclear physics without causing more harm. Several other physicists of that era did.

We are to some extent liable for the ill perpetrated by other people using our technology. The extent is debatable, but it must be greater than "not at all."




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