Bespoke realities

10Dec21

TL;DR

My ad blocker has been hiding things from me. Mostly things that I don’t want to see. But what we do see, and what we don’t see, is all part of crafting bespoke realities.

Background

My friend Ben Ford frequently says “What we perceive as reality is an internal simulation of our interaction with external events.”

Are we living in a simulation? Yes and no. Not a simulation, but billions of simulations, as each of us roams the planet with a different simulation running in our heads[1].

Sam Harris has done a number of interviews related to this on his podcast, and I’d particularly recommend ‘The Future of Intelligence‘ with Jeff Hawkins and ‘The Limits of Self Knowledge‘ with Stephen Fleming.

Until very recently (in evolutionary terms) at least those simulations were being fed from the same thing – the physical reality of planet earth. But now they’re not. The simulations are being fed by the screens in front of our eyes and/or the buds in our ears, and those things are serving up bespoke realities. Though I shudder to recommend anything to do with Joe Rogan, it’s a topic he takes on very well with Tristan Harris (of ‘The Social Dilemma’ fame) and Daniel Schmachtenberger in episode #1736 of his ‘experience’.

This is also a bug/feature of ‘Filter Failure at the Outrage Factory‘.

A glitch in the matrix

A little while ago I caught up with Charles Humble for lunch, and as always he was on the lookout for cool stuff for the Container Solutions blog. One of my suggestions was Swim.ai, and perhaps getting their CTO Simon Crosby to write something about it. Here’s the resulting post – Analyze Then Store? You’re Kidding Right?

As I started reading I was struck by something missing in the second sentence:

But the recent at Facebook

The recent what at Facebook? They’ve been so embroiled in scandal recently there’s plenty to choose from.

Charles is generally a top class editor, so how had this slipped by? I asked him, and he promptly replied with a screenshot from his phone of the article showing that the sentence read ‘But the recent name change at Facebook’.

I tried my mobile, and saw the same.

Then I tried another browser on my desktop, and the text was missing again. Computers are weird.

Use the source Luke

Time for a look at the source:

<p>If I bumped into Zuck’s avatar at the virtual water cooler I’d quit on the spot. But the recent <a href="https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&amp;ai=DChcSEwj13ObC_o70AhWGMyoKHd8TDxkYABAAGgJ0bQ&amp;ei=DVuMYfrcEs3e2roPg5GpyAU&amp;ohost=www.google.com&amp;cid=CAESQeD22EXOHXjBXtrAaLC0wn83SPHxjiEKX6UUkWvBKn-InbEn-AM1NXmThU8fqrpg9hlqxHPPp-zk5R237tZ_noAW&amp;sig=AOD64_1FVDus-IxiN-yxQFfAnBNn1UgMAw&amp;q&amp;sqi=2&amp;adurl&amp;ved=2ahUKEwi6l9_C_o70AhVNr1YBHYNIClkQ0Qx6BAgCEAE">name change</a> at Facebook,

‘name change’ is definitely there, but wrapped in a link to Google Ad Services, which my ad blocker (uBlock Origin) has chosen to drop from the page.

Targeted advertising is a defining part of our bespoke realities, and in this case the hole in the page where the advertising isn’t showed up as a wrinkle in my bespoke reality.

Conclusion

‘Surveillance capitalism’ is serving up bespoke realities to our eyes and ears. Even if you take measures to block it out, that still ends up crafting a different sort of bespoke reality. And then we take that input and feed it into our own little simulations of what’s going on.

Note

[1] Could the substrate for all those simulations also be a simulation? Maybe. Does it matter? No. I’ve run containers inside VMs. VMware will tell you that due to better scheduling their VMs run containers faster than bare metal.



2 Responses to “Bespoke realities”

  1. 1 andyjpb

    In my reality (with Privacy Badger and uBlock Origin) “name change” now (currently?) shows up and points to a BBC article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-59083601

    • Charles updated the link to something that wasn’t wrapped by Google Ad Services (and pointing to a site that actually has info about the rebrand, as the FB Connect 2021 site behind the original link isn’t on topic any more – illustrating that are realities aren’t just bespoke, but are also ephemeral).


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