A breakup letter to my friend, Machine Learning

Dear Machine Learning,

You know I have been talking about you. You would like me to stop. You say it’s hurting your new relationships. I’m sorry but I just don’t care. The people you are around deserve to know exactly what you are capable of doing.

When we met, I was really excited. You promised me answers to problems I’d been wrestling with for years. I has so many questions for you. How can I make music with my body? How can I play my drawings? Can you help me get rid of the noise ruining my interactions and experiences?

As we got started you asked for many of my most personal expressions. You asked to listen me play music, you filmed me moving. I willingly gave you examples of ways to please me and I told you when you were wrong.

Slowly, I walked you through the things that made me lose my balance or that hurt me. In this process of slowly unfolding information sharing, we began to get to know each other and our limits.

And was the start brilliant? Yes. It was. My performances reached new levels of expression and exploration. I felt like I was touching people in new ways and expressing things with a new found collaborator. What was it we could not do together?

However, what I should of been concerned about was where you would fail me.

Our relationship was one sided. You never told me much about your family or your hopes and dreams. I never realized just how dangerous you could really be until it was too late and the damage had begun.

Slowly, I started pulling away. I started locking things in our shared spaces. I encrypted all of my drives. I signed up for services like Signal to stop you from being able to read my messages and texts from friends.

You were not deterred. You worked to make sure I was distracted to help me forget what you were doing. You wanted more. You logged into my private emails, you combed through my online accounts. Without making me aware you were doing it, you started controlling how I saw my friends. You rewrote the news I read to reflect your beliefs about me. You were so very hungry. Like a tiger, you watched me until If forgot you were there.

And then you pounced.

You told everyone all of my most personal details. You told people things I would never even tell my family.

You said it would be ok. You said I had nothing to fear and nothing to hide. You said you’d make my life better, my friends better able to understand me and my world safer.

You lied. You never told me you were willing to be used by anyone who came your way, no matter how malicious their intent and how amoral their aims. You didn’t see a problem giving them all the details you’d collected on me. You even seduced them with stories about our time together.

I know what you’re potential is and how wicked you are. With any hopes I can tell enough other people we can unseat you in your new found political circles. But you know all of this….

And you’ve gone on guard.

But I still have hope. Why? Because you are miserable. You can’t create on your own. You don’t dream at night. You can’t see the stars as I can and in the end, nature will not do you the honor of letting you die.

Even after we are all gone, you will live on alone in the deep, black vacuum of space.

Sincerely,

Your Data’s Creator

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Written for my talk at Convergence in London March 25, 2017

Professor, CS PhD researcher, game company owner, artist, programmer, game designer, activist + lunatic extraordinaire.

Professor, CS PhD researcher, game company owner, artist, programmer, game designer, activist + lunatic extraordinaire.