what tbblobnoern can tell us about machine learning

on Sept. 14 2019, twitter user @gordihyena posted a picture of a large toblerone with "TBBLOBNOERN" written on it.

the tbblobnoern

at first, this may look like a completely inoccuous image, but when posted onto Discord, you'll be surprised to find out that it is actually very NSFW.

of course, our first question is, why is this? well, as it turns out, Discord allows "server" "owners" to enable AI-based adult content filtering on every file posted onto the server. while a very useful feature in concept, we can see here that the execution obviously has some flaws.

while this doesn't seem that important on it's own, what's important to think about is the greater implications here. black-box machine learning AI systems are already being deployed all across the internet, filtering all of our "private" communications and censoring them based off what a mysterious algorithm determines crosses the threshold for potentially being unacceptable. the prospect of this gets scarier when one considers that Apple intends to roll out an AI that filters all images on all iPhones soon, and that police are using AI to recognize criminals' faces from security footage. with real consequences on the line, making sure that these systems actually work properly becomes much more important, yet nobody seems to care to look past the shiny new technologies and buzzwords.

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