Let me be clear — I do not think Tik-Tok (and Big Tech) can read my mind. But there continue to be times when I struggle to understand how an algorithm would know something so fucking specific to what was going on in my mind.
In this case, I have something so specific that I can point to it and wonder. Now, obviously, you don’t know what’s really going on in my mind. And it’s possible that there is something I did without thinking about it (no pun intended) that tipped Tik-Tok off to what I was thinking about. But, either way, things are very Soft Singularity no matter how Tik-Tok figured something out about what is rolling around in my mind.
So, here we go. There’s a famous picture of man in a crowd of Nazis who is the only person not to do the Nazi salute. Here it is:
Ok, no big deal. Well, would you believe I was looking at my Webstats and I saw that someone had literally asked the question, “Why is there a circle in the picture?”
This question was at the forefront of my mind for some time. Then, just today, Tik-Tok pushed me a very, very specific video that answered that very question.
This is probably the most specific that Tik-Tok that has gotten when it comes to pushing me spooky content. I say this because the only because I simply can not think of any possible way that Tik-Tok would have any indication, any metric that I was interested in that specific picture unless it was reading my mind.
Repeatedly over the last few days, I’ve been pushed videos that so so specific to me as a person that I struggle to understand how nothing more than “algorithms” could be the cause.
Now, again, I’m not saying that Tik-Tok can read our minds. But I am saying that something is going on that is difficult for me explain to myself without at least entertaining that idea.
There is a lot to unpack with Tik-Tok because it’s not just that I’m pushed very specific videos that seem very specific to me, I also get videos that seem to be making weird editorial comments about what’s rolling around in my head. Specifically, I continue to get videos pushed to me of women who not only look like a type of girl I like, but also the type of personality I like.
And repeatedly in the last 48 hours, Tik-Tok has pushed me specific videos that seem to be addressing specific things I’ve been thinking about a lot. These videos are so specific that it goes beyond “spooky” into the eerie and surreal.
Then there are more nuanced — and equally weird — thinks I get pushed.
Take, for instance, two things that if you know my mind, would be connected. One is I am constantly pushed videos dealing with Emily Blunt. This is no big eal in itself until you that I had something of celebrity crush on another hot British brunette — Alexa Chung.
But, wait, there’s more.
I’ve recently started to get pushed videos of a woman that I know Ms. Chung is fond of, Jane Birkin. Very odd.
Now, those last two are pretty vague and there are plenty — plenty — of other explanations besides digital telepathy. But the net effect of what I’m being pushed by Tik-Tok these days is to spook me.
The only reason why I keep commenting on this is reality — and everyone agreeing upon what is real — is very, very important to me. I don’t like the idea that Tik-Tok (and Big Tech in general) may be pulling a fast one on us and I might be the only person with nothing left to lose and, as such, am willing rant about how I think my mind is being read.
But they obviously aren’t. There’s no way that is possible. I’m just imagining things. Right, right? Right?
Before you call the dudes with the butterfly nets on me — I’m just running a scenario. I’m kind of crashing after writing and developing on four novels all day and I have some nice whiskey next to me so you get a post like this. I do not think any of this is happening now, but think of this as wargaming a potential way that China could become a hyperpower like the USA without firing a shot.
I once read a book called “Brothers” when I was young which was so fucked up that it really did a number on my wee little mind. And, yet, that book was so out there and so wild in its conceit that I often find myself thinking about it whenever I come up with some wild plot point for the four novels I’m working on. I think to myself, “Well, if people bought the premise of THAT book, they’ll be cool with this…”
Anyway, something eerie happened recently to me that is difficult for me to explain. You see, I was really thinking about how I need a second creative track. The four novels I’m developing and writing are going really well — if slow — and I just need something to turn my attention to when I get burnt out with writing.
Then something weird happen.
I started to get pushed videos on my Tik-Tok FYP about how to shoot really cool pictures. I didn’t think anything about it until at some point things came to a head and I was like, “Huh, I think I’m going to save up the money to buy a really nice Nikon camera and see about becoming a fashion photographer.”
Then it hit me — something about the lead up to this “ah-ha!” moment felt…unnatural. As I was being gently guided towards that decision. Again, I’m just letting off some steam by saying that. That is such an abstract observation that there are many, many no-Inception-necessary that would easily explain it.
In other words, it’s bullshit to think Tik-Tok using real-life Inception technology was fucking with me.
Here’s my bonkers scenario. China is a rising power. We’re rushing towards the Singularity. Let’s propose that in dribs and drabs Big Tech in both the United States and China have figured out not just Digital Telepathy, but fucking Inception.
They’re not just eaves dropping on our minds, they’re actually implanting concepts into our minds in some way. It’s easy to imagine China, not wanting to blow the world up, begins to, at some point, wage Singularity War against the West to the point that we never have a direct conflict with them because, lulz, strangely, things keep breaking the Chinese’s way at critical junctures
Again, I’m just running a scenario. I don’t believe this is happening. This is way too bonkers for even me to believe in anyway. Think of this is a free Hollywood movie concept, if you will. I’m dropping more log lines than truth bombs. At least in my own mind.
Or, put another way, if I was the Chinese leadership, that’s how I would do it. I would have something akin to Digital Telepathy Manhattan Project where I threw a $1 trillion at weaponizing the technology so I could avoid the Thucydides Trap.
Thankfully, no one listens to me. I’m just relaxing by doing some brain dead writing. Lulz.
Now, before I continue, let me be clear that I don’t think Tik-Tok can read my mind. But it IS entertaining to think about various aspects of a scenario whereby it is. Also, let me also be clear — the vast majority of how Tik-Tok has me (and everyone else) figured out is using the FYP really is algorithms. They really do have the ability to figure me out using nothing more than algorithms. What I’m going to talk about is those few times when Tik-Tok has pushed me something that is so specific to me that I struggle to understand how it’s possible that nothing more than scanning all my Internet use, etc. would explain things.
Ok. Here’s what I’ve managed to glean from my study of Tik-Tok which is totally not reading my mind.
Tik-Tok gets itself in trouble when it seems to latch on to something that has flashed through my mind for a moment or two with intensity. So, I futz with my headphones, thinking really intensely about my headphones and their different features.
Then, next thing you know, I get pushed a video on Tik-Tok about, you guessed — headphones.
I suppose you could say that in that specific situation Tik-Tok is so deep even into my computer usage that they somehow figured that out. I’ll give you that one.
But, then again, how do you explain the “But I’m A Cheerleader” incident I mentioned a bit ago. That is something was exclusive to my mind. That’s just eerie. And, as I keep saying, I’m totally willing to accept that all of what I’m noticing can be explained via algorithms.
I guess, I’d just like someone with the technological know-how to explain things that are very specific to my mind that Tik-Tok has decided to push me videos about.
Even though I KNOW that Tik-Tok isn’t reading my mind — that’s just crazy talk, right — I continue to be at a loss as to how it figures out the phenotypes of girls I like or even more weird, their personalities.
Then I start to think about if Tik-Tok has even the slightest practical ability to read my mind and use that information to push me information, who else has it and what are they doing with it?
I’ve already had once instance where I fucking swear Tik-Tok pulled a fast on me by nudging me into what it felt was the best “second track” creative option for me — photography. That starts to make you think maybe we’re not just talking about digital telepathy but some combination of digital telepathy hooked up to AI.
That’s enough to make you stop cold in your tracks.
You know if Tik-Tok has such ability then Big Tech in America damn well has similar technology that’s probably far more advanced. Then there’s the NSA and CIA that probably has something far more advanced than even that. I’ve often idly wondered if maybe “Havana Syndrome” is some sort of extreme form of digital telepathy whereby the attack is about “downloading” as much of someone’s mind as possible.
That’s extremely fantastical and bonkers, but, again, I’m just running a scenario.
Anyway. All of this has got to be bullshit. There’s no way the technology exists to read our minds exists. We would know if it existed. Right? Right?
Tik-Tok can not read our minds. This is simply me idly imaging why it would be so hard for us to believe that it could.
If I’m regularly being pushed videos on Tik-Tok that have no logical explanation other than there is some way that the service is rooting around my mind, why is it so difficult for anyone to believe me? And, that, is really, why this bothers me so much — reality (especially a shared reality) is very, very important to me and if something is obviously happening and I’m the only person seeing it, it makes me question my own sanity and I fucking hate that.
The biggest obstacle is how unexpected something like that would be. The moment one establishes that something is even possible, you begin to have severe cognitive dissidence as you process it. There are a lot of questions associated with this possiblity.
If Tik-Tok of all people can read our minds, who else can? And what’s the technology being used for? How extensive is it? Is it a point-to-point technology or is the information that Tik-Tok (and others) is gleaning from reading our minds being aggregated and processed somewhere for some later, nefarious reason?
Then there is the issue of how such technology could be developed in secret. Digital telepathy would be equal to the mass adoption of the Internet itself in historical and cultural significance. And, given the national security implications, Tik-Tok being able to read our minds in secret might, in itself, be seen as an act of war on the part of the Chinese government at some point.
It also opens up the Pandora’s box of, essentially, the Singularity already being here now, but in secret. Or maybe some sort of “soft Singularity” may exist. And, again, the issue of — why hide such technology and what’s the long-term goal of its secret use?
Also, how do you explain how subtle, granular and nuanced some of the editorial decisions this mind reading technology seems to be making about me (and others.) Now, obviously, some of this comes not from any mysterious mind reading technology, but they really do have some very advanced “algorithms.”
And, yet, how is it possible that these “algorithms” could figure out not just the phenotype of girls I like, but their personalities? Is it even possible that it’s not just mindreading going on, but some sort of AI hooked up to what it finds out about me? When a service can figure out that there is a specific young woman in New York City that I would fall in love with at first sight if I met her in person…that’s pretty eerie. That takes some abstract thought on whatever “algorthims” are involved.
If my mind is being read — which it isn’t — it’s not just being read, it’s being read and rooted around in to make some meta-editorial decisions using the videos I’m being pushed on a regular fucking basis.
Or, put another way — given how eerie, how spooky, how specific Tik-Tok is when it comes to what it pushes me these days, whatever the reason seems like a pretty severe national security threat. If it takes bonkers white racist Tucker Carlson to draw attention to it, then, lulz….I guess?
But, again, if Tik-Tok has mindreading technology, then, you know damn well that Facebook, Google, et al have it, too, they’re just a lot more sly about it. Tik-Tok, because its nebulous connection to the autocratic Chinese government doesn’t give a shit.
Anyway, thanks for attending my TEDtalk. I don’t believe Tik-Tok can read our minds, but I fucking hate how spooky their algorithms are.
Today, I was walking around and the movie “But I’m A Cheerleader” briefly passed through my mind for some reason.
I never mentioned this event to anyone. I did not write it down. Nothing. No outward indication that this occurred other than I softly chuckled to myself. Flash forward and I’m using Tik-Tok.
And what do I get pushed?
A video about that very movie.
That’s just spooky. If Tik-Tok is reading my mind, it’s not through any magical mystery alchemy — it’s being done using technology that, to date, is the stuff of science fiction. Or, at Arthur C. Clarke would posit, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
So. I’m very, very open to this belief being debunked. And I’m willing to believe there’s something I’m missing, some way that it was just a random co-incidence. Ok, that’s very possible.
But that specific, obscure movie being pushed to me within a few hours of me thinking about it…..is spooky.
Now, let me be clear — I do not believe either that Tik-Tok can read our minds nor that it is somehow doing a primitive form of “inception” on us. But I have an extremely — and I mean EXTREMELY — active imagination, so you got posts like this.
So, there I was, thinking I had Tik-Tok all figured out. If it was reading our minds, I had set-up just the type of situation whereby I could test this theory and see what happened.
And then nothing happened.
And THEN, I thought about something. In the days leading up to me having something of an ah-ha moment about photography, I was being pushed EXTREMELY specific videos on Tik-Tok about photography. Or, more specifically, how really great photos were actually produced.
So, when I had an ah-ha moment about buying a prosumer camera in the coming months with my camera in my lap, I thought I had a “gotcha moment” setup for Tik-Tok.
Now, however, I’m beginning to grow more concerned, in a way. What if very nature of how we imagine our minds, relative to how Tik-Tok sees it — is all wrong. Our conscious mind doesn’t float on our subconscious, it’s all one big thing that Tik-Tok can root around at well.
So, this theory goes, by the time I had my “ah-ha” moment about buying a prosumer camera, Tik-Tok had already moved on. I wasn’t influencing Tik-Tok, it was influencing me.
The only reason why any of this matters is I hate being manipulated in the extreme. So, even the bonkers, totally-not-real idea that Tik-Tok is rooting around in my mind — even though it’s not happening— is enough to make me angry that it’s POSSIBLE that it’s real.
If you look at things this new way, it’s just not something you can test. How do you test if someone is reading your mind if all they know you so well that all they have to do is subtly ping you photos and your mind takes care of the rest.
So, I dunno. Tik-Tok is probably going to continue to use its algorithms in a way that spooks me and I will have absolutely no way to prove anything one way or another.
At just about 2:30 p.m. today, I started thinking about something in a very concreat fashion. I could see the thing I wanted and I began to game out how I would get it.
It occured to me that since my phone was in my lap as this happened, if Tik-Tok really does have the ability to read my mind in some way, I will be pushed a very specific video on that subject in the next few days.
I won’t tell you what I was thinking now, but if I get pushed a spooky video on my FYP, I will.
It happened again. Today I was looking at Tik-Tok and was pushed an extremely and I mean EXTREMELY specific video on my For You Page. Here’s what happened: I went to the doctor yesterday and he asked me around my alcohol consumption.
After some joking around, I admitted I drink a lot.
Ok, flash forward 24 hours and what am video am I pushed on my For You Page? A video a man having that specific conversation with his doctor. Like the literal same conversation.
Let’s go through how this is possible.
There’s the case that somehow, in aggregate, that Tik-Tok knows via my likes and time watched that people like me drink a lot and have that type of conversation with our doctors…so I got the video. That’s a fair enough explanation other than it happened 24 hours after I had that specific conversation with my own doctor.
Another argument could be made that through a combination of knowing about people like me aggregate and my phone’s location that they knew to push me that video because they knew that not only do I drink a lot, but within the last 24 hours I had been to a doctor. (This one actually seems to make sense.)
Then, there’s the more kooky explanations — at a minimum Tik-Tok is listening to me via my phone. I’m beginning to think a lot Big Tech companies do this already and Tik-Tok is just the most conspicuous.
Of course, I continue to have a lingering suspicion that Tik-Tok is much more direct than any of the above — it is somehow reading my mind.
But, lulz, that couldn’t possibly be happening, right? Right?
I really don’t want to believe the technology exists to read our minds via our cellphones. That’s just a bridge too far for me at this point. I will admit that I vacillate conspicuously and wildly on this blog between suggesting that is possible and dismissing it.
But here’s the latest eerie example of SOMETHING going on.
I can think of two examples off the top of my head where Tik-Tok pushed me a video of a woman with a certain phenotype that is identical to the late Annie Shapiro. The women look so much like they could be her sisters.