Heikkoa ja vahvaa keinoälyä ja niiden empatiaa

Turun yliopiston kasvatuspsykologian apulaisprofessori Niina Junttilan tutkimuksesta oli juttu YLE:n uutisissa[1]. Jutun keskiössä on ilmiö, miten ihminen voi kokea itsensä yksinäiseksi jopa ystäviensä joukossa, ja miten ulkoa päin yksinäiseltä vaikuttava ihminen ei välttämättä koe itseään lainkaan yksinäiseksi. Tämä artikkeli nivoutuu mielestäni yhteen käynnissä olevaan keinoälykeskusteluun, sekä taannoiseen keskustelutilaisuuteen Turun yliopiston Tulevaisuuden teknologioiden laitoksella keinoälypohjaisesta opetusteknologiasta.

Åbo Akademin sisäisen tiedotuksen lehti, Meddelanden från Åbo Akademi 4/2014 sai minut perehtymään John Searlen kiinalaisen huoneen argumenttiin[2], jossa Searle kyseenalaistaa, onko vahva keinoäly mahdollista rakentaa. Continue reading “Heikkoa ja vahvaa keinoälyä ja niiden empatiaa”

Bittiavaruudessa kaikki kuulevat huutosi

Thinking zombieKansan keskuudessa Risumiehenä tunnettu mies kuoli maaliskuussa 2017. Kymen sanomien mukaan[1] 72-vuotiaan miehen terveyden tilan heikkenemisen “taustalla on kiusaaminen ja häirintä, jota mies on joutunut kokemaan Raivokas risunjemmaaja -videon julkaisun jälkeen.” Kesäkuussa 2016 lenkkeilemässä ollut henkilö yhytti hänet jättämässä risuja laittomasti lenkkipolun laidalle ja otti esiin puhelimensa, jolla alkoi kuvaamaan ja haastattelemaan häntä. Kiinni jäämisestä säikähtäneen vanhan miehen reagointi haastatteluun oli monien mielestä huvittavaa ja sosiaalisessa mediassa videosta tuli kuuluisa ilmiö. Continue reading “Bittiavaruudessa kaikki kuulevat huutosi”

Bread and circuses

Thinking zombieErkki Tuomioja asked and wondered in his blog: “What is happening to Finland?” (The entry is first in Finnish and after that in English.) He finds that “it has long been the case that irrespective of the original subject by around the twentieth comment the “discussion” will have degenerated to insane and often racist slander and libel, without any connection to the original subject.”

In general this is compatible with my proposition that people do not understand the actual forum of social media. They feel like they are just rambling in their own livingroom alone of among people they know full well. They do not see the consequences or their own responsibility of their actions in social media. Lot of the hate speech would seem to be from people who actually find themselves so small and insignificant that their actions bear no remark or they are little people trying to rally the heroes of “good” to come find and save them from the world that is too big and complex for them to completely understand and therefore evil. Continue reading “Bread and circuses”

Nettikiusaaminen, merkityksettömät vuorovaikutukset ja esineellistäminen

Thinking zombieTörmäsin juuri YLE:n elävän arkiston facebook-päivityksen kautta vanhaan televisio-ohjelmaan vuodelta 1997. Muistaakseni näin sen aikanaan televisiostakin. Ohjelmassa Elf Vesala puolisti roolipelejä saatananpalvontasyytteitä vastaan.[1] Pelien vaikutus psyykkeeseen on vanha keskustelu. Se edeltää pitkälti roolipelien aikakauttakin, periytyen keskustelusta elokuvien vaikutuksesta katsojiin. Oikeastaan jo Platon osallistui tähän keskusteluun aikanaan kiritsoidessaan sitä, miten luku- ja kirjoitustaito turmelee ihmisen muistikapasiteetin ja laiskistuttaa ajattelun.[2] Continue reading “Nettikiusaaminen, merkityksettömät vuorovaikutukset ja esineellistäminen”


Ingress is an interesting, still a rather new alternate reality game (ARG) by Google. It is the type of application that I’m calling Reality Guides – applications that tell us about our surroundings.

In Ingress you visit places in the real world, such as statues, monuments, public transportation stations, or what ever strikes the eye. The common nominator is that they are at least somewhat remarkable and unique. These places are marked in the game as portals that can be seen in the Ingress augmented reality. When you come by a portal, you try to capture it for your own team (The blue Resistance or the green Enlightened). You also build links between portals, which draws lines in the map. Once three portals have each been linked to each other, a “field” is created for your own team’s colour. A goal of a sort in Ingress is to eventually cover the whole world with fields of your own team’s colour. This goal, however, is unattainable in practise, as both teams are attempting to do the same, but with opposite colours, and so the fields tend to be built, destroyed and rebuilt in waves of alternating colours.

The augmented game world is also scattered with exotic material (XM) spreading out from the portals. You gather this material by walking close to it, and you use it as energy to take actions in the game. The activity is rewarded by activity points (AP), which are needed to gain levels in the game. On higher levels you have more power and social prestige.

Ingress rewards the players for being active and investing time. The more you do, the faster you gain levels. This is mostly constrained by the (lack of) activity by the opposing team. You get most AP from capturing portals and linking them. Once you have captured and linked all, you can’t do that any more until you have let them decay, which takes about a week, or the opposing team has taken them back. Therefore player progression is higher where there is lot of activity in the game in both teams.

There probably are some portals in Ingress originally placed by Google. However, the main method is not that Google employees would go around to place portals. Instead, the game has a feature for the players to submit portals. Google only moderates the submission queue. Ingress leaves a lot open to be created by the players, reminding the ideology behind wikis.

As for the ideology of Ingress, the game has several player guiding drivers. Ingress encourages walking. There is a constraint on how often you can hack a portal, but this is not a problem, if you just go around from portal to portal. Ingress enforces communality. The game can’t really be won and the story can’t be finished, but you can improve both the story and your success by being active in the community. As a game with two opposing parties, Ingress enforces rivalry and attracts power players. This attracts the kind of players who are abusive towards the other players, especially those that play on the opposing party. Ingress tends to have infestations of abusive players. Therefore, to be a active, skilful, female player in this game may require courage, as you are likely to meet the immature male players, whose lack of self confidence cannot tolerate losing, and to whom women represent so much otherness, that to come second to a woman represents shame and provokes primitive rage.

As an example of more positive social activity, for example in Turku the Ingress community have agreed upon a “level 1 area”. This gives new players a nice sandbox with only easy-to-overtake level 1 portals to practise and level up with. Both teams have reached an agreement on this and the policy is maintained. New and visiting players are contacted through the game chat and instructed about the rule. In cases of accidental violations, the opposite team is notified, so they can have someone with sufficient player level to go and “clean up”.

The pervasive story balances the action. Ingress isn’t much of a competitive action game. One cannot really defend a seized portal effectively. (A group of portals, perhaps, so that all of them cannot reasonably be taken.) There is a narrative, however, brought to players in real time through video clips and written media. Unlike in most narrative games, you can’t just go through the story of the game in your own pace, but you have to wait for these “news clips” to be published. The story tells of big corporations, conspiracies and rebel heroes. You can’t hurry or delay the story any more than the news about elections or sports events. The fictitious events in the narration of Ingress occur when they occur, and typically you can’t really affect them. They are, however, connected to the game elements, creating local player events around the world. Players are given specific portals to capture and they do gather in masses to compete there, team against team.

Ingress leaves one to wonder, why Google runs it. Joining is free. Playing is free. There are no advertisements in Ingress. What Google is taking, is a lot of your time and information. When you are gathering the XM, you walk around the streets with your cell phone GPS active, sending the location data to Google in real time. Google knows exactly where you are and when, as you play. Google also knows, whom you are playing with. The data would appear to be connected with Google+ and Google Maps data at least. The chances are that Google has a very good idea where all the Ingress playing fans of your favourite TV-series hang around, for example. They can probably measure, how well a certain advertisement on their services has affected people, making them visit a store, for example.

More likely than intruding your privacy, however, Google is using Ingress to improve Google Maps and test big-data concepts. Ingress provides good data on pedestrian accessibility and favourited pedestrian routes, which could be used to improve Google Maps giving directions. For big-data benchmarking, Ingress is a global game with the player count in the million-scope. (According to Liberty Voice, half a million at May 2013.[1]) The game is not only active, but even busy 24/7/365. For example, it has a chat system for the players to send messages. The players can choose to filter all the current and recent messages sent within a given radius from their current location, or even to receive all the messages in the game. Both of these are quite a feat for a database. And, of course, it’s not only the messages that the database has to store and provide an access to, but all the player actions alter the states of portals and the links between them. It is no surprise that there are glitches, where bursting down a portal does not break all the links connected to it and the game ends up even having links of both colours for one portal. It’s just amazing to see a link being built between two portals that are hundreds of kilometres from each other. The system must deny links that would cross existing links. It must inspect all the potential links between these two distant portals to make sure that not even the tip of any of the links crosses where this new super long link would be. The players are giving Google cheap system testing, where the biggest extra cost is recording a fictitious news video every week or so and releasing it as a part of the narrative.

It will be interesting to see, where Ingress is going. At the moment, submitting new portals into the game is a significant part of the game and it’s attraction. However, the amount of players in increasing, as well as the speed of portal submissions must be. At some point, finding new plausible portal locations will be significantly more difficult, and loads of players will be stalking the opening events of new statues to manage the first submission. Attaining the top-level badges for portal submissions will become very hard. Will Google change the gameplay here somehow? Will they introduce a third faction in the game? Will they change the game completely, or just, perhaps discontinue it? Currently there is only evidence for the opposite. A few months back they released a version of the game for the IOS platform, and even more recently they launched a new feature of quests in the game.

Google has their own good introduction video to Ingress at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6-JAm3NCAk

[1] http://guardianlv.com/2014/06/google-ingress-once-little-known-game-reaches-large-audience-2/

Also please, read below the invited comment from Heter Ocera who has far more experience in the game than me and is one of the top players in Finland.


“Do you know what’s worth fighting for, when it’s not worth dying for?” –Green Day

I keep hearing that the younger generations have decreased attention spans and that they have a game-like perception of reality. Do we need game inspired design to bring us meaning, when the unbearable lightness of high quality living has deprived our lives from purpose?

“The Unbearable Lightness of Being” has been one of my favourite quotes, even though, until now I haven’t known anything else about the book but the title. Now I read it and loved it. In the core of the story, one of the main characters, Tomas has written a political text, which has been published in a news paper in a shortened form. Tomas sees that the shortening has made the text different from the original – more aggressive. He is approached by the oppressive government to sign a letter for the news papers, where he renounces the text. He is also approached by rebellious people to sign a petition that would continue on the line of the (especially the shortened version) text. Tomas fails to see the impact of signed texts and refuses to sign either one. He refuses the rebellious people, because he doesn’t even see the original text as his own, due to the shortening. Tomas denies his own significance.

In the Populous game series one gets to play god. People of height less than one’s little finger walk around a world where the player raises and lowers mountains and can even summon an erupting volcano in the middle of  everything. The player can see the huge impact of one’s actions among the little people. In Final Fantasy VII, the player can summon powerful monsters. A fight can go on at lengths with damage being dealt on both sides at the magnitude of hundreds. Then, the player makes a small choice, and that choice makes the battle come to a pause, while an ernomous animation is displayed of a huge monster rising and smiting the foe with thousands of points of damage. The player’s action was certainly heard.

In normal, non-fantastical life, one’s actions don’t always bear such significance. A person in a group feels like having something to say and opens up one’s mouth, only to be interrupted by someone else in the group, who was a fraction of a moment earlier or a tad bit quicker in starting to speak. The impressive beast of one’s thought was not summoned. Instead of an awesome show of it’s arisal in the discussion, it was instead trampled as a sprout by this other person’s thought.

I perceive the lack of self-esteem behind a huge majority of all issues people are having. Have video games given the modern generations a concept of higher goals that we should reach in effort to be adequate, least to say good? Or is it always so that the new generation has to prove themselves better than the previous, hence lifting the goal? How is “goodness” even measured here? Is significance an absolute measure, or a percentage measure in relation to one’s known population? When one’s message can reach an audience of millions in the Internet, what good is it being heard and considered by “mere” hundreds of thousands?

The traditional impact on legislation of a common citizen in Finland has had two options: 1) One votes for one’s candidate to get them elected in the parliament to make decisions, or 2) one gets into politics and gets elected into the parliament by others to be more directly making the decisions. The newest fancy in Finland is the citizen’s initiative system, which is from between the two traditional options. One doesn’t need to dedicate one’s life for politics to do politics. One only has to spend a couple of weeks of time with a few friends to come up with a well formatted proposal. This is then placed on the public media and one starts marketing it to see how it gains popularity. Upon having reached 50.000 supporters (points?), the beast has manifested on the battle ground of the parliament and the politicians and officials will have to face it. YOUR proposal is being READ and CONSIDERED by the PARLIAMENT! Suddenly the audience of 50.000 is significant, even in the world of internetconnectivity.

For how I have currently perceived it, people’s need to feel significant has been used to guide them forever. A child is born to a solipsistic world, where they are the sole thing with any significance. The world reveals itself greatly through disappointments, as one has to compromise with other people and the restrictions of the physical reality. This can easily even overshadows the positive experiences, such as fulfilment and physical pleasures. These “carrot and stick” are often applied by the parents to rear the child. The child also typically learns to see their parents as gods. As a child discovers their own non-omnipotency, they perceive their parents as greater beings and start to trust their significance. To mature into adulthood would benefit from learning away from this misconception. However, relying on something that has significance is something we found our sanity on – a fixed point in the chaos of the world. We tend to 1) keep expecting the universe to provide for us, like our parents used to provide for use, or 2) find new significant replacement for our parents in religions, or 3) regress into considering ourselves omnipotent again. This tendency has been used to guide and control people throughout history. Priests are telling us the words of the omnipotent gods. Politicians are urging us to make a difference by voting (and being content in silence, so that our impact wouldn’t disturb their own impact in the society).

H.P.Lovecraft’s mythology roots from the human discovery of one’s own insignificance. The universe is ancient and huge, and stellar events are gigantic – and they don’t care about humans. In Lovecraft’s stories the main characters go insane, when they discover that nothing in their actions or existence matters at all to the ancient gods – the universe.

Without as much knowledge as to call myself a kitchen-anthropologist, I would make a guess that the size of a natural human community is in the magnitude of 100. In that size of a group, each member has on the average 1% significance. 1% is tangible. You can clearly see it – almost touch it. If a member’s significance drops remarkably, they easily become outsiders and may easily stray to another community, where they have higher significance. Because it feels good to feel important. Now, in the modern era of Internet, the community sizes are easily in the magnitudes of 1000-1.000.000. There are people with gigantic significance, such as the leaders of the biggest nations, religions, media and the corporations.

The easiest way for people to find significance in the Internet is by being provocative. It takes a lot of effort to impress anyone with anything constructive. Anyone can write a blog about important things, and many do – how to be heard from among all the others? Persistance and effort, I would assume to be the minimal requirements. If one makes a rational comment on something on the web, people just nod in agreeance as they read past it. It takes wit and swiftness to provide with a correction to the original writing, not to mention that the original text needs to have something of a fault to it in the first place. That’s once again requiring effort. But posting something outrageous is relatively easy. It will also provoke a load of people, many of whom finally see their opportunity of pointing out a fault in something someone has written and their chance to present their wit and swiftness in being (among) the first to correct this outrage. The provocation has significance. The beast has been once again summoned in the middle of the battle field. The provocateur is in the center of attention, dealing tons of effect among a number of people. And this audience is just as faceless to the provokateur as the generic monsters one fights in Final Fantasy VII, or the little people one caters for in Populous. Zombies for the slaughter.

In game design significance can be seen in the theoretical frameworks. For example, in Radoff’s 43 FUNdamentals, #5: Gaining Recognition for Achievements, #11: Being the Center of Attention, #15: Being a Hero, #16: Being a Villain, #17: Being a wise old man, #18: Being a rebel, #19: Being the magician, a keeper of secret knowledge, and #20: Being the ruler, are all directly connected to the need of having significance. I assume that with deeper analysis, the 36 other FUNdamentals could be rooted to this basic need as well.

Now, with modern technology, we are seeking significance, or at least the feeling of significance in games and social media. And we are still only learning, how to harness this there to control the masses.


Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Unbearable_Lightness_of_Being

Jonathon Juvenal, 43 Things That Customers Think Are Fun, 2011, http://www.billyinc.com/tumblr/pdf/cheatsheets/43FunQuickSheet.pdf

Cloak – Incognito Mode for Real Life

Personally I’m interested in helping people to reach each other. I am aware that sometimes there’s no potential for such between two people and in these cases sometimes it is better for them to actually rather avoid each other. I see it unfortunate that some people appear to have taken a policy of having a list of people whom they try to avoid. This can even involve a list of places where these people tend to visit, and therefore this list of places should also be avoided.

Now there is a mobile application to support this behaviour.


The application makes use of social media applications such as FourSquare and Instagram. I was about to formulate that “makes use of other social media applications”, but I find it questionable, whether this is actually an asocial media application, rather than social. The application apparently analyses people’s social media updates and informs it’s user, if people on the avoidance list appear to be where the user is going.

This application is certainly different, but it reminds me of the case of the Girls Around Me application two years ago. Girls Around Me used the FourSquare API to find the closest female user check-ins and then provided more personal information about them by cross referencing with what was available in Facebook. This created a creepy situation, where strangers would approach women and suddenly knowing just about everything about their life and interests, depending on how public and verbose their Facebook wall was.

Girls Around Me was blocked by FourSquare, because FourSquare has a policy against aggregating information across venues. The case is not similar with Cloak, as it doesn’t aggregate information across venues. (It gathers information from several venues, but not in effort to extract significantly more information about people than each individual venue alone provides.) Cloak is not as intrusive application as Girls Around Me – quit the opposite, actually.

Cloak can be seen as something of an opposite to the Find My Friends application, and the even more intrusive position tracking systems. There has been discussions regarding parents’ rights to track their children’s whereabouts using their phone location information. Sometimes these services can cause many kinds of harm. One, light example is, when people are organizing a surprise party to someone and this person stumbles upon the surprise early by tracking the organizers. More serious issues regard Orwellian surveillance of people for their political opinions. For the latter Cloak hardly helps, but it may help a little the people trying to organize the surprise party – as long as this person is not actively trying to pursue other people’s whereabouts. Random, inconvenient encounters may be avoided.

But although Cloak is the opposite of a certain type of applications that can be classified as bad applications in them violating one’s privacy, the opposite of bad isn’t necessarily plain good. Can Cloak be considered as something that violates someone’s rights? As the plain concept goes, it’s difficult to see how. One already has many other tools to help avoiding people. The heaviest way is to get a restraining order from a court of law. Simpler ways are to create “don’t answer this number”-profiles to one’s phone, and as mentioned in the very beginning here, to avoid places where certain person regularly visits.

There is a risk, if Cloak allows extracting avoidance lists, so that they can be shared. In this case people can create public black lists and distribute them around. It would be relatively easy to add random people on such lists and pass them onwards. This could cause serious cases of bullying by unfair discrimination. Hence it is very unlikely that Cloak would contain such a feature.

It is difficult to actually allocate the blame, but one thing is that Cloak is actually a tool for using your private information from social media against you. If you give away your whereabouts publicly, that can be used by people for either discovering you or avoiding you. But then again, do you want to meet people who don’t want to meet you?

The application name Cloak is a bit missleading, as the application doesn’t actually cover one into secrecy, but rather helps one escape others. To be more of an actual cloak, it would, in a way, fit the application to actually hide one’s presence in social media. The application could try to either prevent Facebook, for example, from sharing location information when making status updates. Alternatively it could try to remove this information from recent postings after updates are done. This would help from attracting people joining one where one is. Of course, with FourSquare, this would just mean that no check-ins could be done. This feature would hinder two people using Cloak for both avoiding each other. Essentially it would easily ruin the usability and concept of the whole application. Therefore this feature is unlikely.

I have no personal experience of Cloak. I’m also unlikely to get it, as I prefer to either discuss with people, even when I’m not in good terms with them, or just tolerate them.

One thing for certain is that Cloak is not aiming for helping meet each other.

Maybe I’m a bit of a dreamer like: