Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/12/02/amazon-removes-auschwitz-theme.html
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/12/02/amazon-removes-auschwitz-theme.html
In my youth, I never imagined that the 21st century would be all about playing whack-a-mole with bloody Nazis. But here we are.
And I thought the little concession building in the parking lot selling hot dogs was something out of place.
Been to both sites a few times - the idea of conducting business, goods, commerce being attached to the two locations… no. It should only be about reflecting and inward thinking. Tacky gift-shop baubles have no place associated with these camps.
So is some algorithm scrubbing public domain photos, and finding ones labeled “Krakow, Poland” and using them to mock up print on demand objects - with no humans reviewing it and going, “Uh, that isn’t a scenic portrayal of Krakow…”
Scary thought - some AI bot is responsible for developing these things, based on searched pictures and sales opportunities. Auto-crops the images, sends off to WaiChan Mfg and Printing Group Tihuan Prefecture, creates AI account on Amazon… start to finish, opening the Prime box is the first time an actual human lays eyes on the product.
AI web trawling Nazis in this case and nobody to double check what is being sold before it is sold.
Automate everything they said, let the computers do it, they said, it will make the whole world better, they said…
I just want to wake up…but fear that would be worse…
Very likely, yes. I seem to a remember a story about pillows featuring postage stamps and some were Nazi-era stamps, and earlier stories about auto-generated totally inappropriate “Keep Calm and —“ T-shirts.
With algorithmic generation of product mock-ups for print (etc.) on-demand services, it’s tough to imagine how some things won’t slip through the cracks. There should simply be a “flag item for review” button on sites that support this (and yes, this is just the type of thing a regulatory regime could cover) and then it can be reviewed by staff and removed. This can also feed back into the algorithms that generate this stuff, so hopefully they can get better at avoiding these types of situations.
I think all we can really hope is that we learn some valuable lessons and start to think more critical about what kind of world we want to live in and what kind of world we want to leave to our children and grandchildren… But we as a species seem to have a stubborn streak when it comes to learning from our mistakes…
My assumption is that it was part of a mass automated product generation based on image-scraping, like many other products. But given how well the images are framed within the ornaments introduces some doubt in my mind and makes me wonder if maybe a human being wasn’t involved. The fact that this is even a question is disturbing - because there certainly are people deliberately making things like this and selling them online.
If it’s bot generated, it’s pretty dumb, just randomly scraping images off the internet like that previous BB story -
So too dumb to be considering sales possibilities, but simply generating tons of random potential print-on-demand products. If no one buys any, they might disappear from listing as it creates new ones using other random images, but that would be as smart as it would get. But unless the new images are particularly dumb or outrageous, they don’t get reported on, and we never see them. I also expect 99% of this stuff is completely hidden, with that one percent only made visible by the use of a particular set of search terms.
Are they actually making them or just posting them for their own agenda/amusement?
Unlike the print on demand t-shirts and clothing (those baby/infant t-shirts recently), this is not just taking random or generic pop culture and normally copyrighted references and trying to squeeze a profit from them.
It could be exactly the same dynamic, though - just specifically with cities. (The listing describes it as part of a “souvenir collection,” so there are presumably a bunch more for various cities, perhaps even being algorithmically created whenever someone searches for a specific city name.) So some bot scraped an image that had the city name in it and used that. Or it did have people involved, but they were likely Chinese workers, operating from a place of total ignorance of the history, essentially executing algorithms without any more understanding of context than a bot would have, picking pictures for each city from among image search results (which for the city of Auschwitz are entirely about the camps).
It’s hard to tell at this point, now that they’ve been taken down, but the wider picture could be that there are a whole bunch of these for various cities, with other inappropriate (potential) ornaments created by the fact that for particular cities, the top-ranked image search results for that city name involve various atrocities.
I think the fatal flaw most of us possess is that I didn’t make any mistakes, YOU did and I’m going to prove to you how wrong you were, and by the way, not just you but all the people like you. I don’t know what proportion of the population is set on this default setting but it’s a lot. 2/3? At least half.
For example, I will freely admit this. I just did it. I claimed that half to 2/3 of the entire world population are egotistical jerks. Is that number based on anything? No. It’s a shitty thing to say and think. But I do think it. I get super steamed at my perception of “stupid people.”
Objectively there must be stupid people. Draw a vertical line on the bell curve somewhere, of your own choosing. But this inner hatred of stupid people is not really that useful of a thing to have inside me. But I somehow need it. Because what else will explain all the malice and unkindness in this world? The sexism, bigotry, racism, homophobia, and othering?
I don’t know what drives people not to want to make the world better. But I like your ideas and I wish that we’d take ideas like them more seriously before we fuck everything up irrevocably.
One question might be, does democracy guarantee such positive outcomes? Is it even the best system, probabilistically, to lead to such outcomes? Most human civilizations over the past several thousand years have been absolute tyrannies, and they got us here. The worst of climate change, for example, is occurring in a significantly more democratic era.
Now, let’s say democracy is not the most likely to achieve positive societal outcomes, and maybe, hypothetically speaking, tyranny is. Would you rather live in a democracy that might lead to a bad outcome, but you get to live in a democracy? Ought a reasonable person choose to live in a tyranny, if, say, global climate change could certainly be avoided under such a regime?
I have radically different notions of the nature of reality and the purpose of life on Earth for humans and other species (yes, I believe there is one, more or less) than most people I know. I don’t tend to believe that the purpose of Earth is to generate positive outcomes for its inhabitants, and I think the evidence supports this notion. I also don’t believe that the point is to lead to the worst possible set of outcomes. The reality is, life on Earth is exceptionally diverse – diverse for one individual across one lifetime, diverse for populations in the same geography, and diverse for populations across spans of time. The point of Earth, IMHO, is to generate a radically diverse set of experiences. Earth appears to continue to be succeeding at this initiative!
The big problem is when you have the expectation of positive outcomes, or you even value them more than unpleasant outcomes and experiences. Release yourself from those expectations, and a lot of the misery of the human experience dissolves. Gautama Buddha articulated this concept quite well.
/end non-directed rambling
Yeah, I kinda did it too, but it was fun.
What if it’s not about reality, but it’s always about potential reality? As in, the Earth is diverse to guard against full extinction in case of cosmic disaster. Or as in, entropy is one force, but hyperspecialization and adaptation also exist. Or, as Sagan would say, we are here just to promote the existence of deoxyribonucleic acid. All are “potentially” held within the actual.
And then my next question would be, well, why???
As one who follows the path of Advaita Vedanta (which has gone by many different names, in many different forms, for thousands of years), I have some very specific feelings about the question “why,” because the moment you ask it about any one thing, like why humanity, why society, why planet earth, why living organisms… Inherently it leads back to the ultimate question, why anything, versus nothing?
This has been called the ultimate question – why is there something instead of nothing? I believe that it might simply be logically necessary, because a state of “nothingness” is impossible, as “nothingness” requires certain semantic definitions, and once you’ve spawned those, nothingness isn’t quite so nothing any more.
I think you’re very much on to something when you look at the question through the lens of “explorations of potentiality.” That’s it, in a nutshell. There is only The One. It exists because it must exist. It exists, in a sense, as a fundamental field of conscious existence, and in my view, it basically algorithmically generates everything we think of as “reality,” which is really simply information. All of the information that is generated, such as you, me, this BBS, Earth, and everything else other than the undifferentiated consciousness Oneness, is simply the One coming to understand itself better, through an evolution of itself. This is in pursuit of two “quests” – Know Thyself, and as it said on the back of the Auryn in The Neverending Story, Do What You Wish. Both of these are directives both for The One, and for us, as expressions and pieces of The One.
OK, now I’ve truly blathered enough for this thread! So to bring this back to the topic – as a person with roughly half Ashkanazi background, who absolutely had swathes of his family tree lopped off by the Nazis in WWII – these ornaments don’t freak me out too much. I mean, there’s a gift shop at the freaking 9-11 Memorial in NYC. People always find a way to make a buck off of a horror. Heck, Jesus got nailed to a cross, in my view essentially by arguing for a nondualistic worldview. What’s the number one “logo” of the religion that was started in his name? Him – nailed to a cross! Something tells me Jesus would not have wanted to be worshipped at all, but he would have especially is liked that image being the one people associate with his life and teachings. So yeah, Auschwitz Xmas ornaments very likely brewed up by an algorithm? Meh.
A brief public service announcement “special limited Christmas edition” to all the jacked up late stage capitalist nazi scum out there (from me, and Lemmy):
I just want to know if anyone bought any?