The wizards and witches and warlocks of computers are the wizards and witches and warlocks because what we do is magic.
I don't mean that what we do is complicated (although it is), nor that it is supernatural (although it is), but what we do leaves the outside world no option but to engage in magical thinking.
Have you ever had a friend tell you with absolute certainty that their phone is spying on them? They just had a conversation about finding a new yoga class and ✨BAM ✨ instagram hits them with an ad for the Yoga Tree on 6th. Or maybe you just told them about some $100k space battle in Eve Online and now they're seeing ads for it everywhere.
The idea that "I said $THING and now some other service knows about $THING" is illogical and jumps a lot of steps.
If you don't know the tech, it's really hard to imagine that it's possible to train a model that can predict your purchasing desires so well. Everytime it didn't work you just didn't notice it because, by definition, noticing it means the ad worked.
In the past week we saw a bunch of folks seriously propose that the 10 year challenge is a ploy to train facebook/twitter's facial recognition algorithm.
The claim ignores that:
- Facebook/twitter already have a gigantic dataset of this information
- There's already free datasets
- Most facial recognition tools can already match people 10 years apart
- It would be easier to just ask people for photos
But it's a reasonable fear. It's not a rational one, but it's reasonable. If you didn't know how these tools work at all, it's easy to catastrophically misinterpret signals.
Knowing how these tools work is your societal debt. Civilization has thrown up its hands and responsibility cried:
'the hell, no. You deal with this.
Through the economics of the world, you've been granted a hat and staff, the
grep cantrips, and a nice pat on the head. Off you go, go conjure up some websites or an iPhone or something. I dunno.
You quickly realized that your job is digging through the platonic ideal of complexity. Just an absolute pile of dizzles and doodads.
You're also told that your job isn't to know things, it's to build things. So you can't just read a book and instantly get +1 to Code Charisma. Forget this 176 page RFC of HTTP/1.1 from 1999, we're just gonna lay down some sick spells:
Eventually problems arise and you find yourself actually having to do some digging. "Begahst! Where is this
localhost:3000?" you say as you slowly unlock the infinite knowledge of our weird little existence.
The more you program, the more you just do stuff, the more stuff just "flows" and the less you dig into your tomes.
Why did you use that
const instead of
let? Why did you skip on the Golang pointer? Why is that function named that? Why did you split it up that way?
Because somewhere deep, deep in your programmer soul cried out:
'the hell, no. There be dragons.
But woah, wait a second.
If you're not sure why you're doing something, you've given up your societally granted responsibility of being a loremaster.
If you're not sure why something works, but you're doing it anyway, you're falling into the same trap that the layperson does when they claim their phone's spying on them.
Someone has to know how these things work. Someone has to know about when and how you can use
AVAudioSession.requestRecordPermission on iOS or why FDDB or WIDER FACE should be used over whatever DFACE is implementing.
Learn the magic, don't fall for it.