AI, behavior modification, and why I deleted my Facebook account

Sharing my farewell post on Facebook here:

I've been on this website since shortly after it was founded in 2004, and while I'm not a heavy user by any means, I'm not getting what I need on here.

You might not know this, but the "news feed" uses a deep-learning artificial intelligence to promote some updates while hiding others. Nobody knows exactly what its parameters are, but the general consensus seems to be that it promotes things that make people feel happy, hides things that make them unhappy, and keeps them engaged on this website and looking at ads. Makes sense, right?

What's the overall effect of this- when the medium you use to keep in touch with the people in your life is not showing you everything they're trying to say? When you say certain things, it gets shown to lots of people, you get "likes", and it makes you feel good. When you say other things, the AI steps in, it's not shown in the news feed, and you don't get "likes". This doesn't make you feel good, and over time, this intervention changes the way you think and alters your behavior. This AI might not be perfect, but it has an effect over time.

There are lots of things that are important for people to discuss which don't make people "happy", but might make them more aware, introspective, and overall smarter. But Facebook's filtering algorithms is going to make those harder to find.

Apart from filtering what you see, this website's deliberately invasive nature is designed to build a dossier on its users- assessing and cataloging everyone's interests and personalities, facial characteristics (how does it recognize you in photos?), et cetera. And it's all on your permanent record. For good. To be shared with advertisers, law enforcement, and three-letter agencies.

In the context of this, I'm finding that this place is working for me less and less over time. I find that people on here don't talk about anything meaningful. It's a never-ending stream of photos of food, babies, and pets, unfunny, uninsightful memes, and conversations about mostly nothing. Even what political stuff I'm seeing is very Facebook: shouty, goofy, shallow, "Click like if you agree!" "Outrageous! sign the petition!". And on it goes.

It's not that I even expect people to be posting the cool stuff they're getting up to on here- given how invasive this place is, you *shouldn't*- but I'm seeing people dumping their entire lives on here without any circumspection, and allowing this online medium to mediate a large percentage of their social interactions. For a lot of people, Facebook's gamification, status filtering, and so on has had a significant impact on how they interact, think, and behave- and it doesn't make any of us more interesting people.

I don't want to spend my days like this.

Later tonight, I'm hitting the delete (not deactivate) button on this 11-year-old account. If people are interested in getting in touch or working on anything cool together, it's pretty easy to find my email on my website. I'd love to talk.

Rosenheim

My new single “Rosenheim” is out on A Strangely Isolated Place.

“I remember when I first heard Ulrich Schnauss’ music; it was like nothing I’d heard before and his tracks possessed an almost unnaturally positive aura about them. Unique and (ironically), very hard to compare against, his music is for me, moments of personal expression that live and thrive in their own self-respected unique qualities. If you’re in and you like it, you’re in for good…

Whether a comparison between Duncan Bailey’s work and Ulrich Schnauss is right or not, it definitely adorns these qualities and is an evident inspiration in ‘Rosenheim’. Addictive progression, melodies, chords and synths to die for, Public Transport captures a moving snapshot in time, where music inspired creativity, and creativity inspired music – the perfect evolution.”

You can check out the whole writeup over at the release page, where you can also download it in either 320k MP3 or FLAC.