James Bridle on Medium:
"Whether it's Peppa Pig on children's TV or a Disney movie, ... they are carefully produced and monitored so that kids are essentially safe watching them, and can be trusted as such. This no longer applies when brand and content are disassociated by the platform, and so known and trusted content provides a seamless gateway to unverified and potentially harmful content.
(Yes, this is the exact same process as the delamination of trusted news media on Facebook feeds and in Google results that is currently wreaking such havoc on our cognitive and political systems) ...
"A huge number of these videos are essentially created by bots and viewed by bots, and even commented on by bots. … What I find somewhat disturbing about the proliferation of even (relatively) normal kids videos is the impossibility of determining the degree of automation which is at work here … This is content production in the age of algorithmic discovery — even if you're a human, you have to end up impersonating the machine. …
"what is concerning to me about the Peppa videos is how the obvious parodies and even the shadier knock-offs interact with the legions of algorithmic content producers until it is completely impossible to know what is going on. ("The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”) …
"online kids' content is one of the few alternative ways of making money from 3D animation because the aesthetic standards are lower and independent production can profit through scale. It uses existing and easily available content (such as character models and motion-capture libraries) and it can be repeated and revised endlessly and mostly meaninglessly because the algorithms don't discriminate — and neither do the kids. …
"YouTube and Google are complicit in that system. The architecture they have built to extract the maximum revenue from online video is being hacked by persons unknown to abuse children, perhaps not even deliberately, but at a massive scale. I believe they have an absolute responsibility to deal with this, just as they have a responsibility to deal with the radicalisation of (mostly) young (mostly) men via extremist videos — of any political persuasion. They have so far showed absolutely no inclination to do this, which is in itself despicable. However, a huge part of my troubled response to this issue is that I have no idea how they can respond without shutting down the service itself, and most systems which resemble it. We have built a world which operates at scale, where human oversight is simply impossible."
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