DHH+ Your Authors @dhh Creator of Ruby on Rails, Founder & CTO at Basecamp, NYT best-selling author, and Le Mans 24h class-winning racing driver. Nov. 24, 2018 3 min read + Your Authors

Predictim‘s black-box algorithm analyzes babysitters‘ social media accounts, reducing them to a single fit score. Beyond disgusting. Downright evil.

Social media algorithms prod you to be the worst/fake you can be, hiring algorithms reject you for it.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/11/16/wanted-perfect-babysitter-must-pass-ai-scan-respect-attitude/ 

Just listen to the Predictum CEO’s approach to the privacy issue with invading every single social-media account of the babysitters: “If we ever leaked a babysitter’s info, that would not be cool”.

Is this a joke? You couldn’t have drawn a more callous, stereotypical techbro.

But it gets worse. Listen to all the parents so eager to employ this unaccountable, hellscape of an algorithm: “100 percent of the parents are going to want to use this,” she added. “We all want the perfect babysitter.”

Besides, who the fuck wants to leave their kids with a babysitter that’s been subjected to this kind of highly invasive, malicious algorithmic interrogation of their entire social life and comes out with a “100% Perfect Babysitter”. That’s serial-killer material right there.

While we’re dancing on the depressing line between The Onion and Black Mirror, how about giving the babysitters’ an option of demanding the reverse? Have these parents subjected to The Interrogation Algorithm? This makes a demand to piss in a cup seem sweet and innocent.

You don’t have to be a part of building this dystopian hellscape. Maybe you can find a way to excuse working at Facebook, but Predicitim is so beyond the pale that not even military-grade cognitive dissonance tolerance can excuse you. This is Terrible Ethics in Software 101.

Also, ten bucks says this “that wouldn’t be cool” CEO has already built a God-view mode that every dude in the company can access to ogle the babysitter applicants private social-media pictures. All the angles of this shit show screams EXTREME ABUSIVE POTENTIAL.

All these fears that AI is going to ruin the world got the culprit wrong. It’s not the self-aware computer that’s going to be the end of us. It’s the self-unaware entrepreneurs creating products like Predicitim that’s going to do us in.

And what exactly is the lesson that little Timmy or Tammy is supposed to take away from mommy and daddy subjecting the sitter to this indignity? That they’re so fucking fragile that a questionable Instagram post is dangerous enough that they may shatter from exposure?

Anyone who’ve spent 8 hours straight with a toddler knows that a completely sensible human response is WHERE CAN I GET A DRINK??! Or WHERE IS THERE SOME MUSIC LOUD ENOUGH TO DROWN OUT THE PSTD OF DEALING WITH THAT LITTE FUCKER ALL DAY?!

God bless anyone who has to care for these tiny little tyrants all day long. At least mommy or daddy won’t get fired if they lose it for a second or decompress in ways the algorithm would disapprove of. Babysitters need it just as much or more. Denying that is literally inhuman.

Recall the report on San Francisco moms snitching on nannies who dare to check phones while at the playground: How long until these shit-head parents demand that nannies install malware on their phones to track their movements, usage, or record them?  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/silicon-valley-nannies.html 

Just to top this off: Predicitim’s CEO, @joel_simonoff, has his fucking Twitter account set to private! That’s just next level cynicism.

Who can we thank for funding this ethically-deprived dumpster fire? Your friends at @UCBerkeley and their @SkyDeck_Cal fund. Putting science to work in dystopian science oh-my-god-it’s-not fiction ☠️

You can follow @dhh.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Since you’re here...

... we’re asking visitors like you to make a contribution to support this independent project. In these uncertain times, access to information is vital. Threader gets 1,000,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Your financial support will help two developers to keep working on this app. Everyone’s contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support Threader by becoming premium or by donating on PayPal. Thank you.