Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Go on till you come to the end: then stop

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place.
And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”


By now you’ve probably heard of the Deepfakes. Essentially, it’s software that superimposes a celebrity’s face (re: a female) onto a live-action pornography video. It’s a serious test of the uncanny valley, but it really does look like Katy Perry.

Sorry, no links. Let's keep this PG.

I

I'm not sure this sort of Cartesian doubt is going to be good for society. It's already way too easy to pick which facts you prefer to believe. But we've had Photoshop for a long time now and it hasn't ruined photographic evidence. The sky hasn't fallen. Most Photoshop jobs are amateurish and easy to spot. Video fakes will be the same, at least for the foreseeable future.

Yet the faking of truth fundamentally rewrites the enlightenment understanding of communication in which each idea was hand-crafted meticulously by its maker and sent out into the world with love and affection. In that world, caging ideas is obviously cruel. And how could any person object to hearing a message, when the cost of sending a message is so high?

But now the costs of message transmission have hit absolute rock-bottom, so ideas aren't hand-crafted artisanal items anymore. They are like junk food turned out from the dirtiest factory. A person can broadcast 1000 ideas a day into the meme ecosystem and only one of them needs to make it for you to become a hero. But treating these mass-produced ideas with the same respect as actual ideas is just wrong.

Hand-crafted artisan ideas still get made and distributed to family and friends, but there's just so much information out there to drown it out.

But go ahead and Tweet your “profound insight” anyway.

II

Is Deepfakes a crime? If the celebrity wasn’t in the room during “Naughty Babysitters #439,” then is it really a video of her? How is this different to some girl wearing a cardboard mask of Katy Perry? You decide. But make sure that once you choose, you accept the logical consequences of your choice.

The first layer is the porn. I suspect – although I haven’t done the survey – that porn frustrates women not because it makes them feel inadequate, but because porn is just a proxy for disengagement. A man who chooses to watch TV rather than have sex is just a loser, whereas the husband who uses porn is “bad,” but I am telling you they are the same person. Porn is not causing men to disconnect from women, they are already disconnected, and the only person that will have them is Katy Perry’s superimposed face on some random girl’s body.

I get it, porn “objectifies” women. Blah, blah, blah. But just because a woman is on the screen, doesn’t make that thing about women. The agency of a female celebrity is being disregarded, no question about that. But that’s not the full story. Porn isn't making men feel impotent (metaphorically), men choose to consume porn because they feel impotent. Deepfakes isn’t misogyny, it’s apathy. Does the man want it to be true that he's impotent? No. He wants to be true that the reason he has sexual problems is the porn.

Free sex has changed men and women. Females thought they wanted release from the shackles of shame to have sex anytime they wanted. She could already do this, of course, but social ostracism and risky pregnancy kept her in check. Yet from what I can tell, it’s men that want to have sex with as many women as possible.

Free sex doesn’t really work for women because they want to have sex with one man as many times as possible. This reversal of natural instincts and desires, under a false impression of equality among the sexes, has resulted in a disconnection from both sexes, by both sexes, and a collapse into this practised indifferent self-absorption we call Western civilisation.

On the bright side, GDP goes up as interpersonal engagement goes down. So go long on any investment with 1s and 0s in the prospectus.

III

As mentioned elsewhere on this stupid blog, the female wants to lock a man down to limit his sexual promiscuity. If she wants a powerful man, she should be comfortable with a certain level of promiscuity in that man, otherwise, he will cease to be the man she fell in love with and the relationship will end. But men need a reason to see women as more than a sex object, it doesn’t magically happen.

Instead, women have chosen to live as sexual objects, just like advertising advertised, and sex was watered down to become masturbation with another person's warm body. The man sees the girl, but he doesn’t see her. It’s the neckline, the breast, the hipbone, the thigh – isolated and fetishised as pieces of sex. He stores up sexual imagery for later when he'll replay the mental tape, fitting the pieces of his wife with the girl on the train and Katy Perry's ankles into the ultimate sexual object - for him. Nothing else comes close to sexual pleasure, nothing else could. Now, most guys over 30 would choose to masturbate rather than have sex with an actual girl. Why?

Well, why bother? Men have heard nothing but nihilism and castigation their entire lives. I know, we’re not supposed to care what other people think, sticks-and-stone and all that. But when it gets mixed with the poison message of narcissism – the logical end-point of Christianity – you don’t feel a part of anything bigger, everything seems distant, unreal. Men don’t feel impotent because they are unimportant, narcissism depends on them believing they are the centre of the universe, the divine individual. They’re just waiting for something to happen to them, for their life to start.

And so they never act to become a person – “I am unique and special already” – instead they maintain cognitive balance by absorbing the identities the system presents to them. “I’m an actor.” I’m a great Modern Warfare player.” “I recycle.” Men want women to love them for “who they are,” even though that identity is entirely manufactured, not love them for what they do. There’s nothing worse for the soul.

And so you retreat to the .com world because at least porn prevents other people from finding out you aren't the identity you think you are.

IV

The result is disengagement and apathy. As men dissolve into inventing identities, they are less interested in establishing meaningful relationships with other people as an ultimate goal. Porn is never the problem. The issue is that men were never taught by their parents that masculinity is an achievement – something to earn, something to become, and something that can be taken away.

And I must point out that waiting for life to happen to you – passivity – is 100% a female archetype. Femininity isn’t earned, and no woman can’t lose her femininity by her actions. Every girl grows into her femininity by default when she hits puberty. I understand the business world is empty, pointless and tough to enter, but isn’t the parallel complaint to porn that women are feminising men?

“Well, maybe if men weren’t so discriminated in society, I’d have a chance to be successful.” Dude, you’re acting like a girl!

V

Identity won't get any better as the internet gets larger. But don't blame it. You're the one that clicks.

Who are you if you're not here?
Using a female image against her will isn't the problem. The anger and yelling about misogyny is hiding the quiet assumption that our online selves are identical to our offline selves. Don’t fall into this trap.

If more people understood Foucault, they would encourage the celebrities to embrace Deepfakes as a continuation of the persona (from the Greek for a pretend identity) they have created for themselves in the offline world. Katy Perry the celebrity is not the same person as Katy Perry the human. In fact, her name ISN'T EVEN KATY PERRY!!!

The creation of a persona or celebrity identity is the perpetuation of anonymity. That's a good thing. The point of anonymity online is to dig a moat between your real self and a pretend identity which you'll use to interact with other pretend identities. If you let the narrative that your online and real selves are identical be true, then you can be sold as a product. You must defend against this.

VI

The more our real selves are represented online as the most accurate representation of our identity (the default is plugged), the more we are subject to a new environment of power. And it changes not just life, but death as well. What does it mean to be dead? Doctors say death is the cessation of electronic activity in the brain. But that's not what I asked. I want to know what it means to be dead.

The closest I've ever come to understanding the meaning of death is trapped in the idea: "they say you die twice: first, when your heart stops beating, and second when someone says your name for the last time." In this reading, death is when an individual is no longer registered by other people.

Consider how a missing person is thought. In every important function of social life, they lack insurance, a passport, wants, needs, loves, a job, bills, a political opinion and even a library card. But they aren't necessarily dead, they just aren't registered as alive. The same can be said of a hermit. The moment the five senses can't detect your presence, you "might as well be dead."

Our online selves are being encouraged to represent who we are, and you demand the removal of anonymity to facilitate this transference. Add to this the constant development of new ways to digitally capture our human actions and couple them with an online personality creating an ever-more complex online character, and you can see how gradually our online selves become the prime "body" representing "you."

VII

But what happens when an "online" person does something bad in the "offline" world? What happens if the punishment is to exile their online "self" and turn off all their online access? It will be as if that person is dead because no one else will register the person's existence.

If you know anything about humans, you'll see the problem. Narcissistic rage is one response, but it's worse than this. The fear of death is so fundamental that we will do anything to avoid it. In fact, most people so despise being alone (which is why confinement is an effective punishment), they will prefer death over isolation. We even create stories about how we'll live forever in heaven if only we believe in this book, rather than that book.

I would say the invention of hell is really another defence against the terror of death. After all, no matter how frightening being forever prodded with a red-hot poker by smiling devils might be for a homo sapiens, at least it isn't the isolation of oblivion.

Anonymity is the best defence any of us has against creating a world in which unplugging becomes an existential question. I say, let Deepfakes happen and treat it as the thing it really is: an assault on a pretend identity in a realm that doesn't exist (digital). If you react in any other way, the system wins.

Do you think that's air you’re breathing now?


Huh...

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