The posts, the stories, the lies, the memories will live on

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

It is part of the human condition to fret over and regret things we have done. Our minds often seem like it is tormenting us with memories from a past long ago, as if it’s reminding us that there is no escape. This is who you are. These are the mistakes you’ve made. These are the consequences. These are your failures. And often the events we would most like to forget, the ones that caused the greatest amount of pain, are the ones that hang on the longest — a quiet alarm in the underpinnings of our conscious selves trying to alert us to danger. …

As much as we like to believe, reality is not the default

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

The propagation of fake news over the past few years has created wide reaching problems, elevated tension, and tearing at the fabric of a globalized society. The control of information has always been a critical tool throughout social development. One of the most widespread original uses of the printing press was to disseminate religious text. Within the realm of warfare, the gathering of intelligence is necessary to make informed decisions and strategies. Throughout the political sphere, the use of propaganda and its modern cousins, attack ads, are powerful tools to shape electoral outcomes.

This ability to manipulate information serves as an inherent advantage in human evolution. Children that learn to lie signals a sign of intelligence. It shows that they are able to understand some advanced psychological concepts. Firstly, they grasp theory of mind, meaning they know other people have minds separate from their own. This is considered a critical developmental milestone. Secondly, it shows that they understand different minds have different access to information. And, thirdly, they are able to create stories that make some contextual sense. Like if some cookies went missing they could blame it on their sister or their brother, especially if they’re usually causing trouble anyway. There’s also a fourth discovery that not all children are able to grasp, except for those keenly aware of the inherent power of stories. …

It is time for the law to protect its digital citizens

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ferdinand Stöhr on Unsplash

The crackdown against hate speech and hate groups have finally begun, including silencing the former president himself. The amount of fury built up over the last few years culminated in revolt against the very ideals the United States stands for. It required literal destruction and death at the doorstep of their own federal government for the big tech to finally respond in kind. Yet, even then, their motivations seem less about altruism — to reign in the unsettling chaos — and more about self preservation. The reason that bans have finally been implemented, accounts lifted, databases withdrawn is because it is bad public relations to be associated with the a live government coup and the demise of democracy, at the cusp of a new presidency no less. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and a hole in the wallet. Keep in mind that, over the past 4 years, there have been countless infractions against the very code of conducts that were supposedly meant to protect the precious users, yet little to no action was taken to curb the increasing self-radicalization happening in plain sight. …

Every algorithm has a final destination, and it was never taken into account. Maybe it should be.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

As 2020 draws to an end, there is mounting evidence and pressure on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit to face the rise of fake news, hate speech, and conspiracy, amplifying the divide between online communities. The propagation of individualized content in feeds and advertisements fuels the continual fragmentation of information on the web. Aside from the massive amounts of users numbering in the billions and the amount of political and commercial power that entails, these tech companies hold within them the power to shape the subjective realities of entire civilizations. Their detailed profiling and predictive algorithms have been designed specifically to optimize user behaviour to their liking, namely to maximize engagement to subsequently maximize revenue. …

A colourful cast, unbridled passion, and levelling up

Image for post
Image for post
From CBR.com

The realm of anime was first introduced to me through the humble video rental store. Back then, my dad would take us to rent stuff every Tuesday when they had specials. I remember being able to grab four tapes for just a couple of bucks, as long as it wasn’t in the new releases. I went through a few different phases. Sci-fi. Horror. Academy award winners. Then there was the anime phase.

During the 90s, anime didn’t really have the same massive outreach it does now. A bunch of the boys at school were hardcore fans of Dragon Ball Z, while the some girls were in love with Sailor Moon. And that was it. The shelf or two at the video store was basically all the available anime in Canada at the time. It introduced me to a particular side of anime, the more cultish, mature, cerebral, and violent side that appealed to Western culture. Classics like Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, and Princess Mononoke presented a stellar level of animation far beyond anything seen in American cartoons, and some of the most complex and compellingly intricate stories too. …

The built-in philosophies in the games of chess and go

Image for post
Image for post
Courtesy of Wikimedia

Two of the crowning achievements in artificial intelligence’s rise to world dominance involved the elegant games of chess and go. The first step in the ladder was IBM’s Deep Blue victory over the legendary chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997. The next moment of triumph didn’t come for nearly another 10 years, when Google’s AlphaGo dominated over the world champion, Lee Sedol, 4 to 1.

Both of these games have somehow become a valuable marker of human capability, while simultaneously seen as a fringe marker of human awkwardness. Obsessing over little black and white pieces on a square board is an eccentric human quality that may seem an odd quirk. …

What is felt can be heard if we learned how to really listen

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Music is one of those things that has universal appeal, yet can create controversy when it comes to taste. Like wine, many enjoy it and few are obsessed. Fanatics of either realm propose that there is a hidden kind of depth that only the experienced can grasp. A vintage wine has an exquisite quality just like a vintage album played on vinyl. But the palette has to be trained in order to fully appreciate it. Sounds like a lot of snobby junk, but there’s something to it. At least that’s what I’ve learned from teaching myself music production.

I started by playing around with all the basic effects like compression, EQ, and reverb. At first, I just threw some settings at it and cranked up the echo-y reverb and thought that was it. Safe to say that my early stuff sounded pretty bad, but the thing is, I couldn’t tell. My brain didn’t know what made a professional song sound good, so it sounded good to me at the time. Eventually I figured out it wasn’t so stellar. It was missing something. So, I set out to figure out exactly what that special sauce was. …

And he probably still knows

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

I had always been kind of a smart kid. I usually did pretty well at school without trying too hard. A solid 85% student. I also was good at teaching myself things like drawing, photography, and the guitar. My parents never needed to help me much with things. I would just figure it out.

I was also a stubborn kid. It was hard for me to back down when confronted, and even harder to change my mind. When I was locked down on an idea, I was chained to it with a one-tonne shackle.

As I grew up, my family would visit my mom’s side over in Winnipeg every so often. It was usually the same old boring family dinners for the most part. But there was this one uncle who would sit me down and talk about abstract things like philosophy. We had a special kind of bond that I didn’t have with any other family members. He knew that I enjoyed talking about ideas and concepts. He knew these things held a lot of potential. He also knew they would drag me down. …

Transitioning into work in the strangest of times showed me the ups and downs of tech

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jonas Verstuyft on Unsplash

As the end of 2020 approaches, it feels like an entire lifetime has passed by. So much has happened over the past months, that it’s hard to believe I had only started my current co-op position back in January. Since then, I also wrapped up my undergrad research and picked up my computer science degree in a pizza box (seriously). And like the rest of the world, I made the full transition to remote work. I’ll probably never forget the day we got the announcement at the office.

It was my first company wide release planning session. The cafeteria was converted into multiple stations for all the various teams I never knew existed. There were some tables filled with goodies like cookies, pastries, and coffee. I sat down with my team and dove into planning. Sticky notes were everywhere on the tables, the whiteboards, and the windows. I tried my best to keep up, but honestly I couldn’t really follow. Lunch rolled around, and new platters of sandwiches were swapped in. I started to notice something was off. There were whispers everywhere, a feeling of alert was in the air. Something was happening. My team lead went around, telling everyone on the team to meet in the lab once lunch was over. …

Medium’s model encourages pandering to its members

Image for post
Image for post

Medium has a problem. The way it pays its members pretty much encourages circular engagement. For those unaware of its Partner Program, what it does is allow writers with a paid membership to make money from getting views but only from other paid members.

I had decided to sign up as a way to motivate myself to take writing more seriously. Medium seemed like a great choice because I can just hop on and write. The Partner Program was just a cherry on top. Maybe if I did well enough I could make a bit of side money. But as soon as I signed up my entire feed was filled with articles about how to make money from writing, and why your articles weren’t getting views. …

About

Jacky Tang

A software designer-developer figuring out how the brain bits work and sharing the findings along the way

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store