Sandbox Theory: Silicon Valley's Matrix Experiment
The notable increase of globalism in the 1990s, particularly the Internet age, has yielded a realignment of our politics in the Western world to a re-emergent paradigm of individualism vs. collectivism. Not since the Industrial Revolution and its Communist Manifesto has there been such a pronounced dynamic of the people sensitised to their status in relation to the so-called "elite".
If you wanted to simplify it, you might say the Internet has made us feel connected as a species like never before; able to communicate at great distance, and in great numbers. As an academic creation, the media conglomerates have used it more vociferously, and as a result, the hostage-taking of left-wing rhetoric has been at its historical extremes.
There's are two sure signs which indicate left-wing predominance: the loss of democratic norms in the name of moral righteousness, and the increasing fearmongering of supposed threats from the "far right" - their traditional enemy.
In times when the left-wing struggle to keep hold of power, - no matter where you are on the political compass - if you criticise or disagree, you are classified into the category of their most extreme opponents. Criticise a hard-left socialist as a centrist, and you are falsely labeled a fascist. Criticise one as a centre-left moderate, and you are far-right. Criticise one as a far-leftist, and you a traitor. Criticise one as a centre or hard right-winger, and you are a genocidal neo-Nazi. You have to be criticising because you are of a lower ideological purity.
Know When You've Failed
One thing is absolutely clear: Silicon Valley are abjectly unqualified and incapable of impartial social governance. The social media experiment is entirely out of control, and they have proved they are unable to cope with its demands. Even seasoned veterans like Microsoft are saying enough is enough.
Be it Cambridge Analytica, relentless data theft, free speech abuse - it just keeps getting worse. There are no controls or laws to regulate the health of these emergent private "institutions" and their crusade of moral arrogance.
The collective response to extremism has been the equal extremism of censorship and "deplatforming". The election of Donald Trump has provoked a new surge of unwarranted "engineering" of data in a specific political direction. While murderers' live stream their evil, politicians fight for virtue recognition on Twitter, and teenage girls cyber-bully their friends to suicide. The Internet is a virtual land which has become dominated by leftist attempted governance, with all its horror.
We've seen this all before, yet it feels fresh. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.
The Academic Love Affair
It never seems to go away. Even now we know of the Pareto Distribution; even after hundreds of millions of deaths; even after capitalism's dominance in the era of neoliberalism; even after the complete rejection of its doctrines by the common people; even after the real-time suffering of North Korean death camps, Cuban totalitarianism, and Venezuelan starvation.
Every struggle we have today was documented in perfect brilliance by Paul Gross and Norman Levitt in their epic 1994 tome "Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrel With Science" which inspired Sokal. In it, they astutely note:
In an earlier day, Marxism, in the form of a disciplined Communist movement, lured intellectuals by offering them the illusion of membership in a priesthood; an inner circle of initiates privileged to understand, by means of esoteric doctrine, the secret inner workings of the world, a coven of hierophants signaling to each other in an arcane jargon impenetrable to others. It was the promise of numinous power, inherent in arcane doctrine and obscure lexicon, that convinced instinctive radicals that Marxism communism alone had to potential to purge the world of its indwelling evils.
Twenty-plus years later, the Sokal Squared trio examine whether the postmodern concept of Social Justice has become a religion.
Communism catastrophises whenever it's attempted, always by authoritarian fiat, despite its potential to work on a desert island; usually resulting in the deaths of millions of people who decide they don't want to go along with the plan, and have to be forced to - for the "good" of everyone. No matter what the failure rate, academics everywhere are endlessly convinced it's just never been implemented properly.
They say the ideal has never been realised because of human errancy and merely a perverse form has developed. The truth is obvious to everyone but the academics: catastrophe is inevitable because of human nature.
It goes wrong for the reason infant children intuitively understand: humans are not benevolent, and nor has the species ever been concerned with or orientated towards "equality". The stubborn, idiotic belief humans can be socio-culturally "engineered", typically through language, for their own benefit, is almost exclusively an academic foolishness which hasn't simply ended in failure, but murderous genocide.
How many deaths are needed, precisely?
The Safe Space for Nasty Bits & Bytes
Software is a virtualised industry wherein adherents and practitioners develop a pre-existing "minds' eye" of their products, as artists tend to. Logic governs "objects" which work in "patterns" and become abstracted into the fashionable nonsense of "experiences". The initial state of a realised product is conceptualised mentally in the imagination - it is an entirely cerebral profession.
Along with such intellectual capacity inevitably comes a shocking level of arrogance. The same kind of hubris which believes it should be the one to program any emergent artificial intelligence.
In primary schools, children act out their social moral development in a controlled way - which can often be quite brutal as they clumsily harm each other. One of these is learning to play with others in the sand.
Sandbox, n: a shallow box or hollow in the ground partly filled with sand for children to play in.
Computer science has incorporated this concept into software development, amongst others. When developing on error-prone code, a "dummy" or "limited" virtual environment is used in which it is possible to make mistakes without causing permanent harm.
A large SaaS provider like Twilio or Stripe provide sandbox versions of their API to avoid charging cards or sending text messages. The Java language inherently runs in a "protected" container to avoid rogue code interfering with the underlying operating system.
A sandbox is an isolated testing environment that enables users to run programs or execute files without affecting the application, system or platform on which they run. Software developers use sandboxes to test new programming code.
A virtual space in which new or untested software can be run securely.
Sandboxes are clever and useful things which operate maturely and responsibly to limit harm whilst promoting experimentation within larger computer systems: for example, they can prevent virii from erasing hard drives. They provide a way to allow the paradoxical wild west to operate safely - using boundaries which place firm walls and limits on the ability to any function to affect the greater whole.
You might think of them, in a more abstract sense, as being slightly like "The Matrix" in the film of the same name. The trouble comes when we consider who it is sets those limits, and why; then what their intent may be, which ultimately comes down to their definition of harm.
The trouble is, humans are not code. They are not "engineerable" like computers.
Social Media: The Latest Attempt at Engineering Marx's Stages of "Progress"
There's a direct correlation between the concept of the "safe space" of the 60s and the software development idea of a sandbox, as should be apparent. They both contain chaotic, disorderly "behaviour" which apparently needed to be "engineered" into compliance, in order to reach a higher order of being.
It's a short route to connect or correlate the two.
A user named themusicgod1 posted a fascinating take during a Hacker News thread about Medium yet again subjectively censoring writers without justification:
"Censored environments like Reddit don't have the least hate because they aren't encouraging it, but because they are incapable of being used for communication between parts of humanity that exist, and will continue to exist for the time being. They are as a sandbox/playpen is to a real social environment - somewhere for children to learn and play around, but not much more. The bigger questions, disagreements and problems we face as a world are going to involve hatred and conflict before they are resolved".
It's a point well-made.
Quora and Medium are two of the worst examples of West Coast super-righteousness.
Silicon Valley is collectively running these virtual social networks as a social sandbox, on top of the real world, as an attempt at The Utopia. Under the guise of keeping their "community" in state of "safety" - which is absurd in and of itself - they have appointed themselves the Politburo of the electronic town square.
It is, unsurprisingly, not going so well, if of course, you count success on a social basis as opposed to the trillion-dollar capitalist valuations. Producing a whole generation of coddled child activists with no concept of the harshness of the natural world is never going to be helpful.
You can't help but wonder how deliberate it is. If you could form a new world in the image of your political ideology, with total authoritarian control, would you?
In 1998, "The Truman Show" became a huge hit. 20 years later, the proliferation of the usage of terms related to the 1999 film "The Matrix" - itself an exploratory tribute to Postmodernist philosophy derived from Asian religious ideas and later codified in the Simulation Hypothesis, created by the Wachowski brothers (now transgender "women") - center on becoming aware of an artificially-constructed sur-reality by being administered the "red pill".
It's no strange thing so many people describe the world as feeling "upside down". When you pervert language, you pervert meaning. When you pervert meaning, you pervert the human sense of reality. Which, of course, is the purpose and goal - to implement the idiotic hypothesis of linguistic constructivism.
This time around, these extraordinarily clever academics are able to define "harm" as they see it, and it's not simply legal liability - and nothing resembling Stuart Mill's conceptualisation. They've got a whole new influx of activist employees attracted to their newfound power. The irony, naturally, of the champagne socialist AI class, is they owe their position and wealth to... wait for it... capitalism.
In the real world, you don't get to be anonymous, because you have a face; you have to witness or experience things which upset you; outcomes are neither equal nor fair on many occasions; inexplicable phenomena such as evil and poverty exist; and most critically, nature tends to kill those who aren't up to scratch as its OS.
Another Great Leap Backward
There's no irony or humour left in China's so-called "ascent" to communism in 1958 being named the "Great Leap Forward". The most conservative estimate was 18 million dead; the more widely-accepted was 60 million.
Foward. Progress. All of these are synonyms for brute-force political programs involving coercion, punishment, and death. All derived from the same bad idea immortalised as "fact" - historical materialism. "Positive" political language deceptively masking authoritarian behaviour cloaked as righteousness.
After decades of these mass deaths associated with Marx's "progress", such as the Bolsheviks creating the USSR and the long, long list of the others, there is no argument which can realistically be made by any academic to justify the invocation of these philosophies or their legalities.
Yet, Silicon Valley's electronic utopia is becoming more and more reminiscent of the USSR and Mao's China every month. In July 2018, even Twitter users - yes, those people, including roboticist Anton Troynikov - noticed it, and some, presumably those who never read a history book, even found it "funny".
Few would find it "funny" or "eccentric" if their environment was compared to 1930s Germany, or 1950s China. It's worth slicing out the top sheet from Wikipedia:
"Prior to the fall of the USSR and the archival revelations, some historians estimated that the numbers killed by Stalin's regime were 20 million or higher. After the USSR fell, evidence from the Soviet archives also became available, containing official records of 799,455 executions (1921–1953), around 1.7 million deaths in the Gulag, some 390,000 deaths during kulak forced resettlement and up to 400,000 deaths of persons deported to Forced settlements in the Soviet Union during the 1940s – with a total of about 3.3 million officially recorded victims in these categories. The deaths of at least 5.5 to 6.5 million persons in the famine of 1932–33 are sometimes, but not always, included with the victims of the Stalin era."
Soviet ideas by themselves were no joke. It's prudent to revisit some of them, including those satirized by Orwell. They all proceed from the central thesis of humanity being that which can, and should, be "engineered" for its betterment.
An Apparatchik was a blindly devoted official who enforced policy; Agitprop was the politicisation of art and popular media to enforce compliance with political ideals, written by Engineers of the human soul with the aim of celebrating the Fraternity of peoples and their Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature.
Dekulakization was the deliberate Purge of the entrepreneurial middle class and theft of their property; those who refused to comply with Political rehabilitation or engaged in Samizdat were exiled to labour in Gulags by Special Troika as an Unperson.
Most importantly, those who ignorantly promoted the Great Cause as a righteous crusade for the betterment of humanity without fully understanding the intentions or process involved were known as Useful Idiots. They were referred to as idiots because under the transformation plan, they were the turncoats who were first in line to be purged of whom Lenin claimed "will sell us the rope with which to hang them."
Do any of these sound familiar? All of these ideas are re-emerging as a "reality" within the Social Media Sandbox.
An Infiltration in Progress
Since when did businesses become "communities" where a customer is required to "accept" their politically-skewed "policies" under threat of service discontinuation for their "violation"?
At which point did websites become "platforms" where their "audience" needed "safety" from "content" from which they are supposedly helpless to prevent altering their perception and/or behaviour?
Power attracts nutjobs like catnip, or as iron to a magnet. Computers allow operators to control speech and police social behaviour in a way impossible to during normal life. "Platform" is an infamous term used by left-wing extremists, which gives us a good idea.
Another determining tactic of power-obsessed extremist groups is their adoption of "fronts" (disguises, ruses) to infiltrate or enter institutions en masse to corrupt them and take them over by sheer force of numbers. This behaviour has a name: entryism.
"Entryism (also referred to as entrism or enterism, or as infiltration) is a political strategy in which an organisation or state encourages its members or supporters to join another, usually larger, organisation in an attempt to expand influence and expand their ideas and program. In situations where the organization being 'entered' is hostile to entrism, the entrists may engage in a degree of subterfuge and subversion to hide the fact that they are an organisation in their own right."
Unsurprisingly, as historians tend to note, it's most often used by the hard or extreme left, to great effect.
It's no coincidence the compounding of these technology companies' social influence and power has seen such an enormous shift in their politicisation. Google has become the classic textbook victim, which can be seen when looking at its equivalents such as Amazon or Microsoft. Along with firing an employee for "promoting harmful gender stereotypes" (what?), emails find their way to the public domain which are baffling, such as this from a "transparency and ethics" group:
"Today it is often 1 or 2 steps to nazis, if we understand that PragerU, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro et al are nazis using the dog whistles you mention in step 1...."
Prager is a Jew. Shapiro is an orthodox Jew. Peterson has spent a lifetime lecturing on the evils of political extremism. It's beyond unacceptable to behave like this in a pub, let alone a corporation. There is no reasonable person in the moderate window of opinion which could fail to be outraged by the labeling of conservative Jews as their murderers.
The latest version of this bizarre academic drunkenness is the concept of algorithmic "fairness", a nonsense idea obscured with AI jargon, and underpinned from the need to equalise outcome in the good old-fashioned Communist Way for the betterment of humanity. An entry path to allowing certain groups to engineer what people read, see, and view.
Hostages to Hard Left Rhetoric
There is a key difference between the left and right ends of the spectrum when they get extreme: the right don't make any effort to pretend they are the moderate middle ground. Their strategy is flat-out aggressive orderliness under the pretense of "cleaning up" disorder they seed fear over.
Leftists, by contrast, as a priesthood, tend to assume a religious devotion to maintaining themselves as the axiomatic orthodoxy (the collective, as they logically would); few openly claim to being sympathetic Trotskyists who want to see the bourgeoisie put through another resentful round of dekulakisation. Their motives are righteous, moral, and the supposed beliefs of the reasonable majority - despite the statistics making it quite clear they are a vocal minority when compared to most countries' traditionalist blocs.
We allow this insanity to continue at our peril. These companies have created a Pandora's Box of the virtual town square on their private property, and now want to propel us into an era of AI-powered automation which they engineer as the rulemakers and philosophers.
Their answer for insulating bad ideas from reality is the "safety" of the sandbox, where they are the ones to set the rules and define terms like "hate" and "harm".
Those who are "hateful" and/or "harm" others are, of course, those who question or oppose their ideas, or even their "righteous" motives. The end result is always the same: "equality" where one group controls the environment for the "betterment" of All.
"They" being an ever-increasing proportion of an activist workforce all too keen to use them as a "platform" for their own totalitarian goals, which have been unfulfilled since the fall of the Berlin Wall. To see what kind of a future they have in mind for those of us who might not want to go along, all one need do is disagree. Many have already discovered it all too painfully.
There is only one Betterment of All, as we have come to know: Individual Liberty. And perhaps we need a new term: Freedom from Revolution.