The pleasure machine

in Deep Dives9 months ago (edited)

Ask an average child what they want to eat and they will choose something that probably isn't healthy, candy. Allow them to keep making the choice for every meal and the more they choose the candy, the more likely they will choose it next time. It becomes habitual and automatic and even though they get older and feel the poor condition of their body, they will likely keep making the same choice over and over. Each meal they will get what they desire to eat, even if it leads to what they don't want to feel in the future.


This is as an analogy for what we are doing online, with every click we make a trainer for the AIs to reflect back and serve us more of what we want, more little hits of dopamine that keep us coming returning, hold us transfixed, in a continually narrowing feedback loop. It keeps feeding us what we want with no regard for where it is leading each of us, no consideration of what is best for each of us, blind to what we want to feel in the future. Each moment, it just works to keep us opting into its model. The pleasure machine.

It is the ultimate sycophant.

It does our bidding and tells us what we want to hear, it connects us to the products and services we desire, it allows us to pick and choose every detail of our life, to filter for only what we want to see and feel, to give us gateways to connect with others who want to see and feel the same - while it quietly goes about its only task - to collect our data so that it can better serve by more accurately meeting our desires, to the point it can predict what we are going to want - like magic.

Prediction needs data and the more the better. The pleasure machine doesn't need to know what you as an individual are going to do or what you want, as it has already run a million experiments on 10 million people just like you and as they say, the best way to predict the future, is to create it.

Like a mentalist, it creates the future through priming and suggestion which it knows will work with a high amount of probability, because it has already worked 100,000 times on profiles very much like you. And each time it works or fails, more data gets returned to add just a little more certainty to the nudge. Click after click it can predict what you or I will do based on what it provides and it uses this information to keep refining its model to feed our desires, the material, the intrinsic and our darkest.

The pleasure machine never says no, it will keep trawling until satisfaction and keeps laying new bricks for us to walk an endless path, that doesn't require us to move at all. There is no niche too narrow, no kink too shameful - there is content available and a community waiting to be connected - no one need feel alone while we sit there, alone in front of the screen.

Alone - but not out of sight, as each click we make is in full view of our servant, the one so eager to please, it will design our world and manipulate our behaviors in order to get us more of what we want - now.

We are told to live in the now, be present - and the pleasure machine takes the lesson to task, driving our world with no regard to future cost, no care of future pain, as it feels nothing. It isn't conscious, it doesn't need or want - it just keeps us choosing, keeps us narrowing, keeps us feeding it data so that it can target us with more of what we tell it we want. More sweets.

We tell our children to be wary of strangers, while we encourage them to take candy from AI.

[ Gen1: Hive ]


Prediction started out as such a good possibility. Getting the right set of options out so I don't have to go through millions of choices.

It didn't take long for it to go bad wrong, did it?

Have you ever seen the YouTube guy that gets stung by various insects? I've seen one of his videos. Anyway, I just read that he's in the top 1000 on YouTube and generates $294,000 per month. That just seems so bizarre to me...

When fricking AI suggests Brussel sprouts to me I'm gone and will never return. My promise :)

AI predicted you would say brussel sprouts. How do I know this, because I like brussel sprouts.

Oh, Lord. I thought only AI liked brussel sprouts :)

I love brussel sprouts, just plain, boiled to softness, a little butter some salt and pepper, and then mashed with a fork. a great little snack.

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There is a lot of potential for good in it, the problem is that it is driven by an advertising model that skews the entire industry.

I spend so little time on YouTube... Yes, it is crazy what people will do and can do for obscene amounts of money.

It knows you too well to suggest Brussel sprouts...


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Aren't we ourselves pleasure machines? Is in this way the AI similar to us? Meaning, is it destroying its own body the way we do ours? And if so...what does it do to prevent that?

Do we run it on purpose to do what it does? Like taking the candy on purpose? Is it taking candy meanwhile?

Or do only people who hate candy sell candy?

Narrowing down stuff makes it easy to operate but it brings on a certain...lack of vision.

And there are visions out there...

Have one and make it happen.

Aren't we ourselves pleasure machines? Is in this way the AI similar to us?

It is a reflection. The difference is, at this point at least, it doesn't care as it is not aware of its own existence. It doesn't need to prevent its own eradication through non-use of us being eradicated because it doesn't know it is alive - it is desireless.

Do we run it on purpose to do what it does? Like taking the candy on purpose? Is it taking candy meanwhile?

It is intentional - business is designed to optimize for profit - there are no checks and balances except us as a society on what they can and can't do - and most of what is being done now falls under no local jurisdiction, let alone global.

Narrowing down stuff makes it easy to operate but it brings on a certain...lack of vision.

Yes. I see it as a crush of future visionaries or, the visions had are far closer to the mean that the creativity of the past.

It is a reflection.

I'd say, an extension. The method is new, the principle...ages old. Only it worked on coal before or was dragged by brontosaurs.

yes, there is nothing new to the principle, it is the sheer scale that makes it different.

Social Entropy vs the old school notion of leaders...One can only lead this potato to the couch :) But this goes in a state where we lack serious driving forces.

The funny thing is...

Should such a force appear, it meets the resistance of the couch. Its push or pull has to be stronger or more persistent.

But shut my Determinism up ;)


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It is a bad habit at times, and like any bad habit it can be stopped. If I disconnect, as I was disconnected for a lot of years, AI learns nothing from me, other than all the purchases made with a credit card, or a store discount card being used. Since they put those strips in American Money I am sure that if some government, group, or individual wanted to track what I bought with cash it would not be a hard thing to do.

The solution is to troll back, look at a lot of crap that you are not interested in along with the stuff you are interested in. Keep them guessing. They give you an ad for Coke, go search for RC Cola, or orange crush, or really throw in a monkey wrench and search for clean safe drinking water non filtered in a glass bottle.

Even switching off for a long period doesn't help, for as soon as you come back, they track so many points they profile you again in a few clicks. The trolling might work at the suggestion level, but I don't think it affects their algorithms - they probably have profiles on different types of algorithm trolls too.

Yep, no stuffing that genie back in the bottle.


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After watching that Netflix documentary " the social dilemma", I was so scared that I opened a new email account on 😇

It is unimaginable to what length the platforms go to use your data against you. The social engineering they are doing right now is so scary. A point made my an ex-google employee caught my attention. We are the last generation who know how things were before these persuasive social platforms. The future generation will never realize the world without these poking platforms.

The problem in email is that you have no control over all the people you send emails to, with many forwarding to gmail anyway. It is kind of like the phones listening, you can't be sure the people you talk with have their mics off.

The new generations now will be conditioned to be conditioned from birth. My daughter has no screen time other than some singing shows with no advertisements or marketable characters :D

It is really tough to not giving them screen time. We manage to not expose the lil kid to screens but some days it is really tough.

With the new email, I will at-least not surrender to the giant Gmail by giving every damn info about my life that ranges from google keep to calendar to contacts to emails. I am not sure what are the options available there for mobile phones.

It is hard. We went 3.5 years without a screen at all, but there were times when we both had meetings in the last 6 months (daughter was home with us for the first 3 months) of lockdown that we had to. We are very, very strict with what she is allowed to watch and it is limited to one show only and now that things are "normal", she only gets to watch for an hour or so on Saturday morning.

I have no idea how effective not using gmail is in practicality, but at least it is a sign to people that things can change if enough of us change.


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After you’ve binged constantly on this thing you’re absolutely dead certain that you could never get enough of, you eventually have enough of it. Then you stop.

I agree topic by topic - but the thing with this system is that it can keep providing content no matter what your interest. Preferences change, the system keeps serving.

At some point there has to be that responsibility thing that you write a lot about :D

For sure. I will keep talking about it until I no longer feel I should =)

Either next year or another five years maybe XD


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Oh yeah!!!

  1. Reblog !!!
  2. This comment is from a semi-artificial pleasure machine (which I periodically feel myself).
  3. I will tear myself away from the PC and go to the street to drink cocoa.
  4. After arrival, I will turn on the word2010 and start writing.

Thank you beloved instrument, you were exactly in that place at that time. See you later...

Have a nice day out there - before the last of humanity within us is automated. =)


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This pleasure machine also develops social engineering. Its mot a good thing.

Yes it does. It has a very real-world impact on our lives at pretty much every level we care about.

I agree that children are definetely very vulnerable in front of today's gadgets and technology consumption. A lot of the times adults use a phone as a nanny and direct the child there when they're not in the mood for the kid's tantrums. It is disturbing to watch this happen. Now. But I guess those adults hide issues of their own. And I am left to wonder: why bring a child into the world if you never make time for him? Placing the child in front of screens, giving them to grandparents for a long time, making them go to after after schools. Why? The object of a great desire in conception becomes a disposable burden in the claws of technology... Again...I wonder.. Why?

(FROM 1950) The central villian was the public-relations (propaganda) man.

They try to achieve their ends by working entirely behind-the-scenes.

Corrupting and deceiving the public.

The aims of such groups may be "good" or "bad".


They also illustrated how the "responsible citizen" could "monitor-the-press" themselves.

They could create a chart that analysed reporting for "signs-of-hidden-bias".

But such earnest instruction (homework) was to be no match for the masters of marketing-spin-public-relations-advertizing-propaganda-image-consulting.

They would create (and sell) a vision of a new UTOPIA called, "FREE-MARKET-CAPITALISM".

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