Ever since seeing the Greendale Human Being on the show, I have been a firm believer that it represents the best of human intentions, and despite how botched the execution of those intentions is, it remains a wonderful entry point for people to think about the elements underlying our humanity, the greatness that we share and that unites us all as people.
The Greendale Human Being represents the bonding of people, the transformation of isolation into human connections, and the belief that no matter how worthless or different a person may seem, they are never truly beyond the possibility of becoming a friend. The Greendale Human Being inspires us to look past our differences and recognize the potential for goodness that lies in the core of our humanity.
That meant creating software for sentiment analysis—a computer program that scrutinized the words and phrases of half the real suicide notes and learned how to recognize the emotion-laden language. They tested it by asking the computer to pick out the remaining real notes from the simulated ones. Then they had 40 mental health professionals—psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists—do the same. According to Pestian, the professionals were right about half the time; the computer was correct in 80 percent of the cases.
“So we said, ‘OK, we can figure this out,’ ” he recalls. “If the computer is taught how to listen, it will be able to listen to this database and say, ‘This sounds like it’s suicidal.’ Because there are patterns in the language that are the language of suicide.” Even if those patterns are not always apparent to a trained professional, the real note/fake note test held out the promise that a computer could learn to spot them.
Natural language processing saves lives.
The annotation task must be hellish. Imagine reading hundreds of these notes back to back, breaking down sentences and tagging each emotion.
In 2010, 14-year-old Laura Dekker took to the seas in her sailboat, Guppy, on a quest to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone. Maidentrip, a forthcoming feature-length documentary, follows Dekker on her voyage, told largely through footage that Dekker shot while at sea. Far from her family and without a support team, Dekker goes where the wind takes her. In an exclusive excerpt of the film above, Dekker sails from French Polynesia to Australia.
In An Introduction to Metaphysics, Bergson presents three images of duration. The first is of two spools, one unrolling to represent the continuous flow of ageing as one feels oneself moving toward the end of one’s life-span, the other rolling up to represent the continuous growth of memory which, for Bergson, equals consciousness. No two successive moments are identical, for the one will always contain the memory left by the other. A person with no memory might experience two identical moments but, Bergson says, that person’s consciousness would thus be in a constant state of death and rebirth, which he identifies with unconsciousness. The image of two spools, however, is of a homogeneous and commensurable thread, whereas, according to Bergson, no two moments can be the same, hence duration is heterogeneous.
If you use Netflix, you’ve probably wondered about the specific genres that it suggests to you. Some of them just seem so specific that it’s absurd. Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries? Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life? Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s?
If Netflix can show such tiny slices of cinema to any given user, and they have 40 million users, how vast did their set of “personalized genres” need to be to describe the entire Hollywood universe?
This idle wonder turned to rabid fascination when I realized that I could capture each and every microgenre that Netflix’s algorithm has ever created.
Through a combination of elbow grease and spam-level repetition, we discovered that Netflix possesses not several hundred genres, or even several thousand, but 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies.
There are so many that just loading, copying, and pasting all of them took the little script I wrote more than 20 hours.
We’ve now spent several weeks understanding, analyzing, and reverse-engineering how Netflix’s vocabulary and grammar work. We’ve broken down its most popular descriptions, and counted its most popular actors and directors.
To my (and Netflix’s) knowledge, no one outside the company has ever assembled this data before.
What emerged from the work is this conclusion: Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable. They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.
On Christmas Eve, amidst all of this theology, I’m forced to meditate on God.
First, we start with the premise that the human mind is built to recognize patterns. These patterns become the components of all knowledge and all wisdom.
Then, we assert that religion tells us that God, or Gods, are above and beyond nature, of which all of reality is part. God is supposed to be perfection, or at least in that direction. Hence, benevolence.
So, for an Infinite God to have any meaning to us, It must at least consume our entire capacity when we try to Know It. This means It should be The Perfect Pattern, recognizable to us in all things. It must be self-evident and self-affirming.
So, someone who wishes to can see God everywhere, in all patterns. Since patterns are what constitute all of human perception, both inner and outer, Go is literally everywhere for all intents and purposes.
God in music, art, science, exploration, introspection, and all possible human endeavors. God can be observed in religious rites, meditation, all of life, all of non-life, and the pattern of reality itself. And you can make the choice to see your experience this way.
This opposes your instinctive fear of death.
This is what makes your life worth living.
P.S.: a list of patterns: narratives, music, physics, machines, birdsong, botany, anything. Some patterns are more apparent than others. Some patterns start out apparent, then become difficult. E.g.: the development of identical infants into vastly different adults. Chaos theory?