Opinions/Thoughts

There are a couple of opinions I want to share about the world. This list is in constant development, as I articulate my opinions and learn about the world. If you ever want to engage with me because of them, I ask you to stay respectful. I make mistakes, my opinions definietely aren’t

Software πŸ–₯️

I’m a believer in free software, I think when you use computer software you should have at least been given a chance to understand how it works and make sure it doesn’t use you (exploit your data, do anything malicious in the background). I believe this philosophy would lead to more ethical world of software with more focus on the user rather than serving financial benefits to software corporations.

Technology πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»

I have a lot of issues with technology field in general as it is today. Here are a couple of my thoughts.

  1. Technologists do not ask ethical questions often enough. Creating new technologies requires responsibility which people in technology field often lack. Too many times the answer to β€žwhy not do this” is long and yet ignored.
  2. Everyone loves to complicate things even further. We have hundreds of frameworks, Linux distros, standards and other pieces of software that are made with same goals but are different and further fragment our ecosystem. Now, fragmentation is fine but to a certain point where it becomes unhealthy. We waste talent and resources to make stuff that already been made for often petty reasons. This is probably one of the more controversial points. Because freedom to do things your way is what hacking is often thought to be about. How to balance it with collaboration and working together on one instead of 6 different frameworks? I think we all could make something greater if only we decided to work together. I like UNIX ideas about making one good tool for one purpose, I think we all should consider it.
  3. Documentation is as important as the code, this is one thing I’ve learned when using tools created by other people. This I’m guilty of myself since I think I could do a better job documenting my programs.
  4. Environmental impact is real, perhaps less so in software field, but it should be much higher in priorities for hardware.
  5. Internet is too commercialized, having my own website is my way of rebelling against commercialized Internet. It is truthfully mine, there are no ads, no sponsorships, everything comes from a single private person. I don’t want your data, I don’t really seek views or money by having it. I do not have a brand, I do not want you to buy my recipe for macaroni with sausage. If you like that idea of personal websites with no commercialization check out Neocities.
  6. Automatic chat filters are evil. They successfully suppress speech even if it wasn’t the purposeful target of given filter (false positives). They leave good willing people frustrated and annoyed. They are still successfully avoided by bad actors. All they do is they give false sense of security. Invest in actual moderation for your space instead of relying on garbage.

Piracy πŸ΄β€β˜ οΈ

Considering everything I’ve read about this problem I think the majority of piracy cases are caused by poverty and even if piracy was completely eliminated in these cases, publishers or creators wouldn’t benefit from people touched by this problem at all, since they wouldn’t buy the product either way. Other major cases of piracy I’ve heard about are from people who in the past legally owned given content, but due to its unavailability or DRM they can no longer access this content, I believe they are morally entitled to acquiring the product in this way under those circumstances. Another reasonable use-case for piracy would be to use given content to see if it’s worth buying. As it seems file-sharers do buy content legally even more than regular customers as explained in Copy-Me video. I believe that in this case as well there is no issue pirating content.

Those are only a few examples why piracy occurs, there are of course many other issues with legally obtained media, more recent being abundance of media-streaming platforms splitting content between all of them and creating very hostile and unprofitable market for customers. Some industries also create very problematic issues in availability of content by licensing it only for distribution in specific countries which is often the case for movies.
Piracy became a – very often – much friendlier alternative to garbage quality of service provided by legally working services (DRM, late content etc.). With further widening pay differences, expensive media, morally questionable decisions made by industries, piracy being antagonized this situation will lead to serious issues in the future. Media – art, video games, movies, music are all not optional for continuous human development and mental health, they are part of what social creatures as ourselves need in our lives, opposite to what many corporate figures fighting with piracy would like us to believe, and what marketers in same corporations would say is not true.
So while you sail the deep Internet seas, do remember to also support creators of media you love. Find ways to directly support the creators and get rid of the middle-man. Arr.

LGBT πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ

LGBT (referring to queer in non-derogatory meaning) issues are very important to me. As a queer person living in extremely conservative country all of the issues that affect this community affect myself as well. And the only acceptable reality for me is one where lives of ALL people, queer or not are equally treated and have same rights. I live to see the world in which love is the driving force in our society, not hatred, or fake love, but love. Today’s youth gives me hope for better future, even with so many distractions of today’s world, a lot of them have hearts in the right place.

Religion β›ͺ

I heavily sympathize with ideas of The Satanic Temple and share most if not all of its sentiments (while not supporting organization itself). In my opinion theistic religions are inherently harmful to an individual and humanity. Many theistic religions are what I call the source of β€žfake love” – a love that is conditional, or one only in the name, which is closer to hidden hatred towards others than actual love (for example see preaching about LGBT people, β€žlove the sinner hate the sin” which doesn’t help at all). Religious belief requires ignorance, which in today’s day and age with so many technological and scientific advancements, with so much more knowledge about history – no longer justifies a belief in all-knowing, all-powerful and loving deity. Science have hone a long way filling in the gaps that in the past were explained by religious concepts, one can presume that this trend will only continue as we explore our universe. Even now, if we as humanity aren’t entirely convinced what may the the explanation for certain phenomena, taught by past experiences we should first look for logical explanations before looking into supernatural.

In addition, theistic religions harmed, and continue to harm me and many others in my life, which is why I’m and will continue to be opposed to them.1

Money πŸ’Έ

I try to pay as much as I can with cash. I believe that ultimately paying with credit/debit cards will lead to cash-less society which will have to deal with the following issues:

  • rotal lack of privacy when it comes to purchases, profiling will be possible not only on governmental level but also on bank and regular corporate level by shops. This is a major pain point with systems such as bank accounts,
  • loss of control over money - giving up control over money situation enables banks to both control what you can do and watch as well as freeze your account for no reason leaving you unable to do much,
  • it is more difficult to control money spending when you don’t physically see it.

Porn and sexuality πŸ”ž

We live in particularly puritanical society. Pornography is being portrayed as evil incarnated that will turn people into literal devils. Teenagers buying condoms seen as depraved youth. Sex education feared of like Australian spiders. Nudity (including artistic) is seen as something needed to be concealed.

I think that a society where such presumptions are cultivated – is a society that is not educated enough on issues of sex, or it is willfully ignorant towards this topic. For one to understand the reality of situation, they need to first grasp the basics of human nature – to learn that human sexuality is natural and it’s ok to act on it in responsible and consensual manner. It’s important to understand what kind of behaviors are acceptable and which are not. Once we learn how to accept ourselves for who we are in entirety, we may finally become more accepting of others and their sexuality. All of this could be part of sex education which is so often pushed back by conservative part of society for various misunderstandings of how such education would work and how would it help. Unfortunately there are still people who would rather their kids be unaware of sex instead of educated on the topic, and this in turn leads to teen pregnancy, spread of STDs, harm, awkward situations and abuse. I wholly support such publications as UNESCO’s “International technical guidance on sexuality education: an evidence-informed approach” which are based on scientific knowledge of the topic.

I believe we should move away from puritanical mainstream and instead find common ground on what kind of sexual topics are allowed to be explored in common media, my views on this topic are largely covered by existing sex-positive movement.

Capitalism πŸ’°

Well, that sucks, I’m sure we can do better, but I’m not clever enough to know how to.

National politics 🀦

I’m generally not clever for national politics. Those are usually complex, nuanced dynamics at play there. But living in a country requires some level or understanding for them, because they affect β€žregular people” the same. I don’t feel specifically to any nation, I were born in Poland however being a β€žpole” means nothing to me. Being born in some land doesn’t make me special, if I were born somewhere else I’d still be me.
However the rules of everything around are dictated by cental power called government. It’s a group of people who hold power over law, national services and many more things that affect my life directly. Therefore I’m unable to ignore this factor.

I stand for freedom, for freedom to be myself, to express myself publicly. To be. I expect my country to at the very least allow me for that. I expect my country to deliver medical system that will not let me die when I acquire treatable disease or have other medical issue. But the current country I live in is not such a country. People in power are cynical, they use trust given to them by people to enrich themselves and further push propaganda to continue that.
Not only that, but the powers of other nations such as Russia are also threatening sovereignty and peace of my own and nearby nations. Any power, that uses censorship, propaganda, manipulation, deception, surveillance against their own citizens and/or opposition is one that should be abolished. These tricks are sadly keeping some powerful people in power in many eastern countries and in mine too. It’s important to recognize when you are being manipulated and defend against that, because support for immoral powers staying in power is a vote against yourself.

Wars and military πŸ’£οΈ

One of the biggest injustices in the world is compulsory military service. Wars are always fought on behalf of those who are most wealthy or profit one way or another from a war, but those who have to participate in wars as solders are expected to lose their life for feeble social construct such as a “country” (protecting everyone in a country is not a real objective in wars, it’s something you do by proxy). This is no reason to lose your life, no one should ever engage on any side of a conflict – as they only bring suffering to others and will forever bear the heavy burden of taking someone’s life.

I’m a pacifist. And I oppose any kind of military service.

Video games 🎲

As evident by looking at my list of games I’ve played a great deal of games I play are indie games. Rarely there are big AAA titles on my list. The truth is, for a while now big AAA publishers and companies do not produce games which have “heart” in them. There is almost no LGBT representation in those games, often huge open-worlds with graphics waking everyone awe, but with zero substance to story/gameplay. A lot of it is mass-produced garbage where there is barely anything unique in it. Of course, as always, there are exceptions to that rule, but generally, indie-games really often are the better way to spend your time rather than AAA titles. And certainly, there is a lot to choose from when looking for good indie games! The amount of indie games is staggering. The hidden gems – years in making which would be huge hits if only they were noticed by bigger audience are out there covered in dust while indie game makers strive to make the ends meet.

Indie games are wonderful. They present ideas never seen before in gaming spaces, they explore cultures that don’t have mainstream coverage, they are unique. The real difference between indie games and AAA titles is that indie games are a product of unlimited artistic freedom, compared to AAA titles which are restricted by appeasing certain audiences to secure goal in sells. Indie games are in my heart.

Another worthy area of video games that is worth bringing up is modding. My start with modding was when I explored Minecraft, and I admired modding community ever since. Modding is awesome, and expands game in ways developers never intended to, which is great, because it allows people to further experience the game the way they want.

Privacy πŸ‘€

Privacy is a very important topic which is often talked about today but not much is being done in direction of it getting somewhere. When offered a choice of privacy or comfort many still will choose comfort without any compromises.
Arguments such as β€žOh just think of the children!” and β€žI have nothing to hide” are so popular as a response to privacy activists and as damn annoying as much as they are untrue. One of the most dystopian ideas that truthfully scare me is AI learning based on behavior of all publicly available Internet interactions and using that data to predict risk of someone doing x thing. A future where AI can decide based on data whether someone violated or will violate the law and lead to arrest of a person. Psycho-Pass should stay fiction, not reality.

At this point I feel rather nihilistic about this topic. I’m still very concerned about my own privacy, but had given up on being strict about it. I allowed more information about myself to be public, be it here or on proprietary platforms like Discord, out of convenience. I still advocate for more private communication with others (for example by hosting private Matrix instance) and usage of other open and secure services, however I no longer feel like using them all the time.

People πŸ§‘

It might be odd to express opinion on people of all things. People are… Diverse. There are more than 7 billion people living. That’s more than any of them could ever dream to shake hand with. But even though I might be introverted Internet person, I have some goals that I want to keep in mind when interacting with people. I try to minimize any kind of judgement that might come from generalization. Nationality, skin color, sexuality, impairments, look – all of those are garbage indicators of what’s most important when dealing with people – their behaviors and personality. We fool ourselves with general descriptors, make opinion of entire groups of people based on minority or sometimes even majority of given group. I believe it’s a dead end, unfair simplification of such complex thing that is person’s actual personality.

Those generalizations make it easier for our brain to deal with reality, but make it often harder to connect with others and in extreme cases may just result in spawning more hatred and needless hostility – both of those we don’t need more in this world. Even if 95% of certain group of people are awful, giving a chance to someone from that group often doesn’t cost you anything and is also a societal win in keeping us all from being dicks to each other for sake of being dicks.

If for sake of protecting our made up sense of security we hurt other people – are we really different from “monsters” we fear?

Machine Learning Art πŸ“¦

TL;DR ML art has enormous chance to help society at large but in current system it is used to exploit people, I appreciate the technology but it has plenty of shortcomings that make its use unethical at the moment.

Commonly also referred as “AI” even though there is a huge difference between those two concepts. But semantics aside, machine learning is a hot topic of 2022/2023 and it appears in many forms – art (e.g. Stable Diffusion), chats (e.g. ChatGPT), music etc. My opinion focuses exclusively on generation of ML art, however ML is much much bigger topic than just that and it would require a separate blog post for me to dive into all details (which I might have to make at some point and move things from here because it’s a chonky boy this section), this is a shortened version of my opinions on ML.

It’s worth reiterating I’m a furry, topic of art is something that is impossible to detach from furry culture and majority of furries have some kind of opinion on machine learning generating stuff. That said, I’m a furry interested in technology and I’m not an artist, so please mind my biases about this topic as you read on and try to keep your mind open.

All of my thoughts on technology from technology section apply and sadly how topic of machine learning was approached from beginning exemplifies the exact opposite of what I’d want to see. I think that researchers and technology companies which innovate in field of machine learning did not ask questions regarding ethics of how it’s being developed. Here I’m referring to scrapping public resources with no regards to ethics of building a black box model based on work of artists and other Internet users with no consent. I believe that yes – permission (for using recently created art) should be obtained before such inclusion for multiple reasons including privacy and decency. I fully understand that models work because there is a large sample of works they are built on, but this does not excuse such carelessness willful ignorance in this process.

Another point being often discussed in this conversation is that artists and writers will be out of job. It’s a hard one, I’m not an artist, my livelihood is not too likely to be affected as I’m fairly versatile in technology field and if not programming I’ll just pick up something else in this field. However I don’t believe machine learning can replace good artists in near future. This is because machine learning works based on repeating patterns of what it already seen, it cannot create something that a good artist would create with detail and understanding of a human mind. It can still create epic art that would make many question whether that’s machine learning generated art or a human creation, however in my opinion even with that, good artists will still find clients and with them income. That is not to say that I don’t think it wouldn’t impact general artist community, I’m fairly sure that it will and already does have some effect on income of those communities. The question is – how big that impact is/will be, how will that exchange impact society at large and how we can alleviate it not to hinder further human progress that may affect art creation processes.

I no longer vibe with the above point. It was a poor excuse of mine that doesn’t properly reflect all of my values. ML generated art has a real danger of putting artists out of job. The implications of that are beyond my abilities to understand for now, but I consider it a negative for ML.

There is a lot of talk about “spirit” and that machine learning models cannot express themselves via art and because they are not creative what they are generating is just a worthless canvas of pixels with no meaning. This generally sparks a bigger conversation what art is and what it means to everyone. In regards to that point I’ve read the other day Mary E. Lowd’s toot thread on Fediverse. The ideas behind this thread also fit in with my ideas on ownership and copyrights in regards to creations. But in general I feel like the entire point will differ from person to person, because ultimately how we perceive art is subjective.

Lastly, a point I’ve also heard is that ultimately machine learning art generation is β€žcheating”. I disagree. As a programmer it’s not cheating for me to automate production of chairs using factory machines, why would it be cheating for someone to use machine learning to skip over a lot of manual labor, time and effort needed to help themselves create an art piece for their novel? Cheating implies getting advantage over other people, but machine learning already has open solutions that allow anyone to generate art. Is it the same discussion like the one when photography was invented and people were up in the arms that painting is dying? If so, what was the real effect of photography and were the advantages of new tech worth it at the end? Can we learn something from previous – very similar discussions?

Yet another point which I haven’t mentioned until now, is environmental impact of Machine Learning technology. I think that when it comes to image generation Machine Learning does not have redeemable quality and its usage is harmful, though worth mentioning that the same could be said about video games.

In my opinion the responsible use of art generating machine learning models in 2023 would require using a model created with recent art (up to 5-10 years old) from alive artists who have agreed to include their art in the training process, older art or art created by deceased artists. Output for given prompt should be either based on own creation (that is, own creation fed to the model) by the prompter or be modified in a visible way by the prompter to enhance the output. Additionally, if art created this way is not used exclusively for personal use, it should be shared with information about ML being used to generate it as well as include: prompt used to generate an image, input image, settings used, model used. This does not always allow for receiving person to recreate same output but it would add transparency to entire process. In this process ML generator is a tool that helps – not replaces a human and respects other humans by requiring to describe process of creation so other humans can follow.2

Overall I believe that machine learning in art generation is an inherently neutral topic and it’s how we as humans use machine learning is what really makes difference in opinions. I think machine learning has enormous chance to help us all, but for this to happen we have to approach it at slower pace, communicate with each other (including everyone in the conversation!) and ask questions. Technology should be open, so open models should be preferred over closed models. Machine learning is a tool we can use to help us create and make even better contributions to society, like with any tool – we have to make ways to use it responsibly. That said, responsible usage is not likely to occur in capitalist dystopia we live in, and here – I don’t have any suggestions on how to go forward with that.3 Ultimately people will end up exploiting other people and tools such as machine learning.

Other

There are some other opinions and thoughts I’d wish to put in here, however out of fear of being cancelled or them affecting my future badly, I do not talk about them publicly.


  1. I do recognize, that in majority it’s people who use religion as a weapon who are the problem. Many of religious people, use it as means to force their own biases and worldviews onto other people even if the religion they believe in does not support what they are preaching. ↩︎

  2. This process is arbitrary and made up by myself. It assures knowledge is shared and further effort is put so to help, not replace. ↩︎

  3. And I can hear some people already say β€žor we could just not use it and we would all be happier”. Ultimately, this section is not here to convince anyone to think one way or another, its rather here for my own ease for linking if someone asks me about my opinion on x. ↩︎