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第98期——社交媒体令人细思极恐

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    [LV.3]偶尔看看II

    发表于 2021-3-1 18:24:10 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

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    The Deliberate Awfulness of Social Media
    社交媒体令人细思极恐(上)


    To be alive and online in our time is to feel at once incensed and stultified by the onrush of information, helpless against the rising tide of bad news and worse opinions.
    在这个时代,我们的生活离不开网络世界。在信息的猛流中,我们时而激怒,时而失趣,无助面对着风起云涌的坏消息和负能量观点。


    By Mark O’Connell
    1:18 P.M.

    图片1.png
    Social-media platforms know what you’re seeing, and they know how you acted in the immediate aftermath of seeing it, and they can decide what you will see next.
    社交媒体平台知道你在看什么,也深知你对所看内容的第一反应,他们还能决定你随后看什么。
    Illustration by Jack Sachs

    Twitter, as everyone knows, is Hell. Its most hellish aspect is a twofold, self-reinforcing contradiction: you know that you could leave at any time and you know that you will not. (Its pleasures, in this sense, are largely masochistic.) My relationship with the Web site, which has, for years now, been the platform most deeply embedded in my daily—hourly, minutely—routine, has come to feel increasingly perverse. It mostly seems to offer a relentless confirmation that everything is both as awful as possible and somehow getting worse. And everyone else on Twitter appears to feel the same way. (You can check this claim right now by doing a Twitter search for phrases including “extremely normal website” and “I’m losing my mind.”) Last month, the writer Julius Sharpe posted the following exquisitely relatable sentiment: “Whenever someone stops tweeting, I feel like Ben Affleck going to Matt Damon’s house at the end of ‘Good Will Hunting.’ So happy for them.”
    众所周知,推特是恶魔之地。它最可怕的一面是在于自我加强的双重矛盾:你知道自己什么时候都能离开,可是你也知道自己不会离开(从这个意义上来说,它带来的快乐,是建立在自虐之上。)随着网络平台深植于我日常生活的每时每刻,我与网络的关系也越发反常。绝大多数时候这似是一种无情的证实——事情不仅很糟糕,还会更糟糕。而且推特上其他人似乎也有同样的感受。(你可以现在就去推特上求证,搜索词条“超正常网站”和“我疯了”。)上个月,作者朱利叶斯·夏普发布了以下这条富有共鸣的观点:“只要有人停止发推,我的心情就像看到在电影《心灵捕手》结局中本·阿弗莱克去敲马特达蒙的家门①一样,为他们感到高兴。”
    So why hasn’t Sharpe done a runner, like Matt Damon lighting out for the territory? And why, more to the point, haven’t I? The obvious answer is that social media is an addiction. The first argument in Jaron Lanier’s recent book, “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now,” is that the nexus of consumer technologies and submerged algorithms, which forms so large a part of contemporary reality, is deliberately engineered to get us hooked. “We’re being hypnotized little by little by technicians we can’t see, for purposes we don’t know,” he writes. “We’re all lab animals now.”
    为何夏普没有停下跑步,就像像马特·达蒙那样离开自己原本生活的地方那样?或者问,更关键的是,我为什么也没能离开网络?答案很明显,因为社交媒体是瘾品。在杰伦·拉尼尔的新书《删除社交媒体账号的十条理由》中,第一条便是:占据当代现实很大一部分的,是消费科技与潜在算法之间错综复杂的关系,而这些都是刻意设计出来引我们上瘾的。他这么写道:“我们日渐被看不见的技术人员催眠,我他们的意图们无法揣摩。我们现在都是实验室里的小白鼠。”
    The problem, for Lanier, is not technology, per se. The problem is the business model based on the manipulation of individual behavior. Social-media platforms know what you’re seeing, and they know how you acted in the immediate aftermath of seeing it, and they can decide what you will see next in order to further determine how you act—a feedback loop that gets progressively tighter until it becomes a binding force on an individual’s free will. One of the more insidious aspects of this model is the extent to which we, as social-media users, replicate its logic at the level of our own activity: we perform market analysis of our own utterances, calculating the reaction a particular post will generate and adjusting our output accordingly. Negative emotions like outrage and contempt and anxiety tend to drive significantly more engagement than positive ones. This toxic miasma of bad vibes—of masochistic pleasures—is not, in Lanier’s view, an epiphenomenon of social media, but rather the fuel on which it has been engineered to run.
    在拉尼尔看来,问题的根源不在于科技,而在于基于个体行为操纵的商业模式。社交媒体平台知道你在浏览什么,也知道你浏览后的即时反应,并决定你接下来的浏览目标,以便更好地决定你之后的反应——这一系列操作会形成日益收紧的反馈圈,直至约束到个体自由意志。该模式更阴险的是,我们身为社交媒体用户的我们,会在自己的活动范围复刻此套逻辑:我们对自己的话语行为进行市场分析,预测一个特定帖子会引起的反响并相应地调整我们的发文。像愤怒、轻蔑和焦虑这些负情绪的参与度会比正面情绪更为显著。在拉尼尔看来,这种毒瘴氛围的共鸣,这种自虐般带来的愉悦感,并不是社交媒体的附带现象,反而是精心安排的燃料。
    Lanier has coined a term for this process: he calls it bummer, which stands for “Behaviours of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent.” (Sample bummer-based sentence: “Your identity is packified by bummer.” Sample marginalia, scrawled by this reviewer with sufficient desperate emphasis to literally tear the page: “Please stop saying bummer!”) In Lanier’s view, bummer is responsible, in whole or in part, for a disproportionate number of our contemporary ailments, from the election of Donald Trump to the late-career resurgence of measles due to online anti-vaccine paranoia.
    拉尼尔为此进程创造了一个新词:叫做“迷幻算法(Bummer)”,意思是“迷幻用户的行为并将之编入租赁帝国。”(用迷幻算法造句:“您的身份已由迷幻算法包装”。句子的空白页边,评论家强调的语气和潦草的字迹简直要把这一页撕成碎片:“请不要再说迷幻算法这个词了!”)在拉尼尔看来,从唐纳德·特朗普当选总统,到由于网络反疫苗偏执症导致麻疹在快要灭亡时重新猖獗,迷幻算法要对当代疾病的不正常数量负全部或部分责任。
    Before he emerged as a prominent diagnostician of our technological malaise, in 2010, with his book “You Are Not a Gadget,” Lanier was mostly known as one of the chief architects of virtual reality and a tutelary spirit of the Internet’s freewheeling early days. (He is nowadays an employee of Microsoft, a fact that he acknowledges in the book.) His major selling point as a public figure is the notion that he’s critiquing from the inside. But that insider status can be a disadvantage. One way of framing the problem would be to say that he thinks like an engineer, in that his argument is an explanation of how a particular system, social media, operates, and how it might be improved by tinkering with certain aspects of it Which is to say that “Ten Arguments” is relentlessly focussed on the few bummer apples, without giving much serious consideration to the barrel. His peers in Silicon Valley, he repeatedly reassures us, are fundamentally well-meaning—which even if it were true wouldn’t be especially relevant—and capitalism, he maintains, is a basically just and rational social arrangement, albeit one that is open to corruption by bad actors and bad systems. He goes so far as to suggest that even Trump would be a “nicer, better person” if Twitter suddenly ceased to exist. “As a lefty,” he writes, “I don’t think a bummer-style lefty leader would be any better than Trump. Debasement is debasement, whatever direction it comes from.” I would, I suppose, prefer a lefty leader who didn’t tweet from a West Wing en suite at 5 a.m. to a lefty leader who did, but I would take either over a right-wing President who pursues tax cuts for the super-rich, dismantles environmental regulations, and implements border-protection policies specifically designed to victimize immigrants and their children. Stephen Miller does not appear to tweet much; it’s hard to imagine him being a worse person if he did.
    随着2010年出版《你不是一个小玩意》,他以一名卓越的技术问题诊断专家出现在公众眼中。在此之前,他作为虚拟现实的设计者之一、充当早期互联网发展的守护精神而为人们熟知。(他在书中承认如今他就职于微软。)该书的主要卖点是来自内部人员的批判。但是这个内部身份可能会成为缺点,其中一个原因在于他是用工程师的思维来看待问题,而他的论点解释了社交媒体这个特定系统如何运转,又有某些方面可以修补来得到改进。也就是说,《十个理由》无情攻击了部分迷幻算法的结构,却没有考虑这个存在的整体。他在书中再三保证,他的硅谷同僚们从根本上是善意的(即使是真的,也没什么特别意义),且他坚称资本主义是基本上是公正又合理的社会体系,尽管该体制会为一些不好的因素和系统所腐蚀。他认为如果推特突然消失,即使是特朗普也会成“更好、超棒的人”。“作为左翼的一员,”他写道,“我不认为一个迷幻算法式的左翼领导者能比川普做得更好,低俗就是低俗,不论是哪一边。”如果问我,比起一个会在凌晨五点的白宫连续发推特的左翼领导人,我更喜欢有一个不会这么做的左翼领导人。但是我也不会选择一个右翼总统,他追求给富人减税、撤销环境条例、实行边境保护政策来伤害移民者和他们的孩子。斯蒂芬·米勒②显然不怎么发推特,也很难想象他会变得比现在更坏。
    注释:
    ①心灵捕手里面,阿弗莱克饰演马特达蒙的好基友,在剧中前者对后者说:一天中最愉快的就是敲你家门的这十一秒,我真希望有一天我来敲门的时候你不再开门,你值得去更好的地方发展。电影结尾,阿弗莱克如往常一样去找马特达蒙,马特达蒙已经去了更好的地方做科研了。
    ②斯蒂芬·米勒( Stephen Miller):特朗普的政策高级顾问及演讲撰稿人,也是前白宫高级顾问,曾助特朗普撰写就职演说。

    原文链接:https://www.newyorker.com/books/ ... ess-of-social-media

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  • TA的每日心情
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    [LV.3]偶尔看看II

     楼主| 发表于 2021-3-1 18:25:30 | 显示全部楼层
    The Deliberate Awfulness of Social Media
    社交媒体令人细思极恐(下)


    Part 2
    There is a tendency toward over-generalizing of this sort throughout the book. Social-media posts, Lanier argues, are peculiarly vulnerable to deliberate or incidental misinterpretation, because context can be applied to what you say after the fact. “You have to become crazy extreme if you want to say something that will survive even briefly in an unpredictable context,” he writes. “Only asshole communication can achieve that.” But this is straightforwardly untrue, and it’s untrue in a way that reveals a fault line in Lanier’s whole argument. Any regular Twitter user will immediately tell you that the communications that survive in the unpredictable context of the platform are not extreme statements but extremely funny statements. What Lanier seems not to appreciate is that we keep firing up our timelines, scrolling downward through the linear abyss of utterances, in large part because of the ever-present possibility that we might read something that makes us howl with laughter. It is, granted, not a vision of a flourishing utopia, but it’s not nothing.
    整本书中有过度概括这种情况的倾向。拉尼尔认为,社交媒体上的言论,极易被有意或无意曲解,因为语境能在事后再套进你的言论。他写到:“你需要变得极度疯狂,才能使你的言论在不可预知的背景下存留下来,即使只是简短的存在。只有白痴式的对话才能达到这一目的。”但这显然是错误的,并且揭示了拉尼尔整个观点中的错误思路。任何一个经常使用推特的用户都能立马告诉你,在这样一个无法预料背景的平台上长存的观点并非是极端偏激的,而该是极度搞笑的。拉尼尔所不能理解的是我们持续会刷新我们的动态,滑动屏幕穿过话语的线性深渊,很大程度上是为了我们可能随时读到让我们大笑的内容。诚然这不是个繁荣的乌托邦,但并非一无是处。
    Lanier is, to the very marrow of his bones, a Silicon Valley sage: his prose, despite its politely resistant stance, is a medley of ted talks and keynotes and takeaways. Reading his book, I kept wanting him to go deeper. And then I read James Bridle’s “New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future,” which wades in so deep that I began to fear I might never come back. “New Dark Age” is among the most unsettling and illuminating books I’ve read about the Internet, which is to say that it is among the most unsettling and illuminating books I’ve read about contemporary life. Bridle doesn’t want to convince you to delete your social-media accounts, although you might be more likely to do so as a result of having read his book than Lanier’s. Instead, he wants you to see more clearly what it’s like to live in a world where you can never really go offline anyway, where there is no workable possibility of evading the network.
    拉尼尔从骨子里是个硅谷哲人:尽管持着委婉的反抗立场,他的散文就是TED演讲、幻灯片和外来思想的混杂。读他的书时,我总想让他在原有的基础上继续深入。随后我阅读了詹姆斯·布莱德的作品《新黑暗时代:科技与未来的终结》,这本书太过深入,反而使我不禁担心无法回头。《新黑暗时代》是我所读关于网络的著作中、也是关于当代生活的著作中最令人心神不宁且富有启迪性的。布莱德并没想要说服你删除社交账号,尽管读完他的书(而非拉尼尔的)后你很可能就这么做了。相反,他想要让你看清,生活在一个无法真正离线、而你又无法避开网络的世界是什么样的感受。
    Bridle, like Lanier, has a background in computer programming: he is an artist whose work examines the hidden operations of technology in the public realm. Among his better known pieces are “Drone Shadow,” for which he painted life-size outlines of military drones in urban spaces, and “Autonomous Trap 001,” a high-concept prank involving “trapping” self-driving cars by surrounding them with ritualistic circles of salt, whose resemblance to road markings confused the cars’ A.I. navigation systems into helpless stasis. He also gained prominence last year for his viral essay “Something Is Wrong on the Internet,” a harrowing exposition of creepy, algorithmically generated kids videos on YouTube, an expanded version of which forms a chapter of “New Dark Age.”
    和拉尼尔一样,布莱德也有编程的相关背景:他是一名艺术家,他的作品考察在公共领域中技术背后的运转方式。他出名的作品有《无人机阴影》(他在郊区画了一堆真人大小的军用无人机轮廓)和《自动陷阱001》(一个高概念的玩笑,讲的是在自动驾驶车辆周围仪式性地撒一圈盐来‘困住’它们,因为地上盐的形状与道路标识相似,可以迷惑车辆的人工导航系统,使其怠机)。去年他的一篇热文《网络有问题》也使他名气大增,
    Bridle argues that the Enlightenment-era equation of knowledge and power has collapsed under the sheer tonnage of information—data, news, opinion, political spectacle, fact, falsehood—mobilized by contemporary technology. Not only is knowledge no longer power, it isn’t even really knowledge anymore. It is a strange fact, verifiable by people still living, that the Internet was once thought of as a grand superstructure by which all of us would be elevated to a state of technological enlightenment. This is not how things have panned out. Here’s how Bridle puts it:
    布莱德认为,在当代科技承载的繁杂众多的信息下——包括数据、新闻、观点、政治景象、事实、谎言,启蒙时代时知识与权力的平衡已经崩溃了。所谓的知识不仅不再是力量,它甚至不再是真正的知识。现世的人能证实一个奇怪的事实:互联网曾经被认为是一个宏伟的上层建筑,我们能通过它达到技术启蒙的更高层次,但事实并非如此。布莱德在书里是这样说的:
    We find ourselves today connected to vast repositories of knowledge and yet we have not learned to think. In fact, the opposite is true: that which was intended to enlighten the world in practice darkens it. The abundance of information and the plurality of worldviews now accessible to us through the internet are not producing a coherent consensus reality, but one riven by fundamentalist insistence on simplistic narratives, conspiracy theories, and post-factual politics. It is on this contradiction that the idea of a new dark age turns: an age in which the value we have placed upon knowledge is destroyed by the abundance of that profitable commodity, and in which we look about ourselves in search of new ways to understand the world.
    当下,我们发现自己与浩瀚的知识宝库相连,但我们却还没有学会思考。事实恰好与我们以为的相反:原本试来照亮世界的技术实际上让世界更暗了。我们现在通过互联网所能接触的多元世界观和丰富知识,并没有促成一个统一共识的现实,反而我们的世界被原教旨主义者对简单化叙述、阴谋论和后事实政治的坚持所撕裂。正是在这一矛盾中,新黑暗时代的观念发生了转变:在这个时代里,我们赋予知识的价值,被把知识当作丰富且有利可图的商品这种做法所摧毁;在这个时代里,我们在自身寻找新方法来理解世界。
    The book delineates the ways in which the future is becoming darker and less knowable, even as our tools for predicting it become more sophisticated. The book’s most fascinating and disturbing chapter is about how the Internet, the primary vector of information about climate change, is increasingly a vector of the problem itself. The world’s data centers already have roughly the same carbon footprint as the global aviation industry, even as people continue to speak of “the cloud” as though it were a barely corporeal entity. As temperatures rise, our information technologies will function less efficiently—increased heat and humidity will hamper the flow of wireless transmissions and satellite communications—and a vicious cycle will commence. (Bridle makes a similar point about cryptocurrency, that supposedly revolutionary and transformative technology: if its rate of growth continues, by next year Bitcoin alone will account for the same level of carbon output as the entire United States.) Even more depressing is the contention that climate change could actually wind up making us stupider: he cites research showing that human cognitive ability decreases significantly with higher atmospheric concentration of carbon. “Carbon dioxide clouds the mind: it directly degrades our ability to think clearly, and we are walling it into our places of education and pumping it into the atmosphere,” he writes. “The crisis of global warming is a crisis of the mind, a crisis of thought, a crisis in our ability to think another way to be. Soon, we shall not be able to think at all.”
    这本书描绘了未来是如何变得越发黑暗及不可知,尽管我们预测未来的工具变得更为先进。这本书最引人入胜、最难让人平静的一章是关于互联网——传播气候变化的主要载体——如何日益成为问题本身的载体。全世界所有数据中心的碳足迹已经与全球航空业大致相当,正如人们把“计算云”当作一个勉强有形的实体来谈论。随着气温的上升,我们信息技术的效率将会降低,因为增加的热量和湿度将阻碍无线传输和卫星通信,由此一个恶性循环将会开始。(对具有革命性和变革性的加密货币,布瑞德也提出了类似的观点:如果它的增长速率持续,到明年,单是比特币的碳排放量就会与整个美国相当。)更令人沮丧的是,气候变化会使得我们更加愚笨。他引用的研究显示,随着大气中碳浓度的增加,人类的认知能力显著下降。他写道:“二氧化碳蒙蔽了我们的思维。它直接降低了我们清晰思考的能力,我们在教育场所的高墙里呼出二氧化碳,又把它排进大气。全球变暖的危机是大脑的危机,是思维的危机,是阻碍我们思考出另一种方法的危机。很快,我们就会完全不能思考了。”
    If I’ve encountered a more forbidding outline of the future in any work of nonfiction, I’ve obviously forgotten it, possibly as a result of carbon-induced cognitive decline. (The silver lining to this toxic cloud is that pretty soon we’ll be able to blame all our idiocies on climate change.) Bridle’s apocalyptic vision can itself be mind-numbing, in its way: it is a relentlessly gloomy book, and to read it is to risk suffocating any remaining hope you might have for the future, any sense that catastrophe might yet be averted or mitigated. (This is not an outcome that its author seems to intend.) Like Lanier’s book, though in a very different register, it risks presenting the Internet as both the manifestation and cause of all of our deepest problems. Yes, social media contributed to a Trump Presidency, but so did the financial collapse of 2008, reality television, misogyny, and enduring structures of white supremacy. So, too, with Brexit: the surveillance stratagems of Cambridge Analytica might have pushed the U.K. over the line, but it wouldn’t have approached that line without a confused sense of its own savage colonial history, a thwarted cultural superiority complex, and a self-perpetuating class system that elevates mediocre old-Etonian opportunists at the cost of the national interest. The chronic condition is the disproportionate power and wealth of a tiny minority; technology is a means by which its symptoms manifest.
    如果我在任何非小说类的作品中曾看到过另一个更令人生畏的未来轮廓,我显然忘记了,这可能是碳导致的认知衰退的结果(乌云背后的另一个潜台词,是很快我们就能把我们所有的愚蠢行为都归咎于气候变化)。布瑞德的末日预言本身可能会让人麻木: 这是一本冷酷无情的悲观之书,阅读它会扼杀你对未来任何残存的可能希望,扼杀任何你能会避免或减轻灾难的感觉(似乎这不是作者想要的结果)。就像拉尼尔的书一样,虽然有不同的表达,但它冒险把互联网呈现为我们所有最深层次问题的表现平台及根源。不可否认,社交媒体为特朗普当选总统做出了贡献,但2008年的金融危机、真人秀、厌女情绪以及长存不灭的白人至上主义也在推波助澜。至于英国脱欧也是一样,数据监控公司剑桥分析可能是英国问题的背后推手。但是,自身野蛮的殖民历史,受挫的文化优越感,和能自我延续、以牺牲国家利益为代价提升平庸老伊顿机会主义者的社会阶级制度,若是没有这种种一切带来的困惑混乱,英国不会接近这条线。聚集于少数人手中不相称的权力和财富已成慢性病,技术只是显现病症的一面。
    Bridle does establish beyond all doubt the viciousness and complexity of those symptoms. At one point, he describes the logistics system employed by Amazon at its warehouses, in which stock-pickers walk briskly among the shelves, following directions relayed by a handheld device that also tracks their speed and efficiency. The arrangement of the shelves makes no sense to human eyes—books stacked next to saucepans, televisions beside children’s toys—but is perfectly rational to the machine intelligence that configured it. It’s a system that is incomprehensible without the aid of computers, and in which the traditional relationship of authority between human and machine is inverted. (“Reducing humans to meat algorithms, useful only for their ability to move and follow orders, makes them easier to hire, fire, and abuse,” Bridle notes.) As with so much else in the book, it’s difficult not to read this as a metaphor for a much broader truth: we are all of us increasingly negotiating a world that makes sense only from the point of view of machines. For some of us—Amazon workers, Uber drivers—it’s less a metaphor than a literal reality. As William Gibson has put it, “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
    布莱德无疑证实了这些症状的严重性和复杂性。他曾描述过亚马逊公司在仓库中使用的物流系统:运货人在货架间轻快地走着,遵循一个手持设备传递的方向,该设备还可以跟踪他们的速度和效率。货架的排列对于人类来说毫无逻辑——书籍堆放在平底锅旁,电视摆放在儿童玩具旁边——但对于分配货物的机器智能来说,这是完全合理的。这是一个没有电脑就无法理解的系统,在这个系统中,人类和机器之间传统的权威关系被颠倒了。(“将人类简化为肉体算法,只保留他们移动和服从命令的能力,这让人类更易于受雇、解雇和滥用,”布瑞德指出。:还有书中其他内容,我们很难不把它解读为一个更广泛的真理隐喻:我们所有人都在越来越多地谈论一个只有从机器的角度才有意义的世界。对于有些人——亚马逊员工、优步司机——来说,这与其说是隐喻,不如说是字面上的现实。正如威廉·吉布森所言:“未来已经到了——只是分配不均。”
    To be alive and online in our time is to feel at once incensed and stultified by the onrush of information, helpless against the rising tide of bad news and worse opinions. Nobody understands anything: not the global economy governed by the unknowable whims of algorithms, not our increasingly volatile and fragile political systems, not the implications of the impending climate catastrophe that forms the backdrop of it all. We have created a world that defies our capacity to understand it—though not, of course, the capacity of a small number of people to profit from it. Deleting your social-media accounts might be a means of making it more bearable, and even of maintaining your sanity. But one way or another, the world being what it is, we are going to have to learn to live in it.
            在我们这个时代,活在当下或是在线都会被突如其来的信息惹恼且蒙蔽双眼,在坏消息和恶意观点的涨潮下无力应对。没有人能理解所有事情:由不可知算法的冲动控制的全球经济,我们日益动荡和脆弱的政治体系,以及造成这些问题的大背景——全球气候变化这一迫在眉头的问题。我们创造了一个以我们的能力无法理解的世界——当然,少数人从中获利的能力尚在作用。删除你的社交媒体账号可能是一种能让这世界变得更易忍受的方法,甚至可以保持你的理智。但是不管怎样,这个世界就是这样,我们必须学会活在其中。

    原文链接:https://www.newyorker.com/books/ ... ess-of-social-media

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