Men swim in idiocy, and always have. It is only when a culture enters its declining phase that it becomes incurably decadent. Decadence can last some time, but not forever. Perhaps the article “Aristotle’s binary philosophies created today’s AI bias” by some female at Quartz, a once-respected magazine, signals we are entering the latter stages of decadence.
The female first notices that computers are largely based on binary numbers. “Don’t be fooled, though,” she says, “These 0s and 1s don’t mean that the machine understands the world and languages like we do.” Machines, of course, don’t understand the world, or anything, at all. There is as much understanding in a computer as there is in your can opener.
Binary reduces everything to meaningless 0s and 1s, when life and intelligence operates XY in tandem. It makes it more convenient, efficient, and cost-effective for machines to read and process quantitative data, but it does this at the expense of the nuances, richness, context, dimensions, and dynamics in our languages, cultures, values, and experiences.
But we shouldn’t bemoan Silicon Valley developers for the biased binary system—we should blame Aristotle.
I remind readers that Aristotle was a white man.
The female writer said Aristotle, the big meanie, “socially engineered a hierarchical patriarchy and divisive polarity that was rooted in his internal values and biases against others: The items he ordained to have more worth became 1s, and those of lesser importance 0s.” Of course, her internal values and biases that she seeks to impose on us are better because she is a non-male.
Alas, Aristotle’s hierarchical classification system got implemented into AI, load-weighting in favor of men like him. The very system on which all modern technology is built contains the artefacts of sexism from 2,000 years ago.
It appears 1s are superior because they are associated maleness, and 0s inferior because they are associated with femaleness. It did not occur to the female writer to swap the labels and thereby solve the problem.
If Aristotle had created democracy—and democracy is meant to be about true representation—women and people of color should have had equal access to education, voices in the forums, and the right to vote back in 350 BC. There’d have been no need to fight until 1920 for the female vote to be ratified in the US. There’d have been no slavery …
Aristotle loathed democracy, understanding it as a corruption in the body politic that always gave rise to tyranny, as anybody who has actually read him would know. He disliked it a least for the reason that females writers like ours would have a vote.
Yet she says “Aristotle’s biased [binary] ranking is now being looped and reinforced by more than 15 million engineers, without them being aware of its binary and undemocratic origins.”
It should be noted that successful software projects, even open-source ones, are not democratic.
Our female writer moves from disparaging the sexism of Aristotle to that evinced by Descartes, whose mistake was to “put Aristotle’s lines of syllogistic logic into a tree structure. These tree structures are now used in NLP’s (Natural Language Processing) recurrent neural networks.” Leibniz was also judged to have not been a female.
Want more evidence of the insidious patriarchy in computing? Well did you know “swipe right = 1, swipe left = 0”, and “clicking ‘like’ on Facebook = 1, not clicking like = 0”? Other similar horrors are cataloged.
Now comes the hardcore philosophy, where we learn the ugly consequences of our binary way:
But the problem with binary logic is that it provides no scope for understanding and modeling why and how people have chosen one option over another. The machines are simply registering that people have made a choice, and there’s an outcome.
We don’t classify and qualify the world around us with Aristotle’s hierarchical binary biases. But the way data is collected is black (0) and white (1), with shades of grays provided by percentages of confidence. Meanwhile, nature and Eastern philosophies show that our perceptions are whole waves of rainbow colors.
Our earnest non-male writer doesn’t tell us how we can code this Eastern rainbows as substitutes for binary arithmetic. She is certain, we imagine, some lady coders will figure out a way.
Nor does our non-male heroine understand that in her judging Aristotle wrong and herself right is the result of applying binary logic. I recommend not telling her, as I don’t think she could handle that knowledge.
Update Some genius at github created the page “TheFeministSoftwareFoundation/ C-plus-Equality.” “The language is to be strictly inHERpreted using feminist theory. Compilation privileges a single processor architecture over all others, which is deeply problematic. We cannot FORCE a cpu to conform to any architecture…” Hilarious.
How it survives the notoriously humorless admins at github is anybody’s guess.