Sam Harrelson

YouTube and “Reinforcing” Psychologies

“The new A.I., known as Reinforce, was a kind of long-term addiction machine. It was designed to maximize users’ engagement over time by predicting which recommendations would expand their tastes and get them to watch not just one more video but many more.

Reinforce was a huge success. In a talk at an A.I. conference in February, Minmin Chen, a Google Brain researcher, said it was YouTube’s most successful launch in two years. Sitewide views increased by nearly 1 percent, she said — a gain that, at YouTube’s scale, could amount to millions more hours of daily watch time and millions more dollars in advertising revenue per year. She added that the new algorithm was already starting to alter users’ behavior.

“We can really lead the users toward a different state, versus recommending content that is familiar,” Ms. Chen said.”

via “The Making of a YouTube Radical” by Kevin Roose in the New York Times




Romans 13 and American Appeals to Authority of the Government

Good read on the historical uses of Romans 13 in American history to justify obedience to the government in light of our Attorney General’s use of that text today to defend the deplorable and immoral and utterly un-Christian internment camps we’re setting up along the Mexican border for children that we’re forcibly separating children from their asylum-seeking parents…

As I wrote at my own blog, I’m not sure we should “act as if the New Testament has any kind of authority over the religiously plural officer corps that protects a democratic republic that separates church and state.” But Pence is hardly the first prominent American to make such public use of these Christian scriptures — though what they mean has been hotly contested since even before the Republic won its independence.

— Read on www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2017/05/mike-pence-romans-13/




We need to have a conversation about what “godly” means, y’all

A majority of S.C. Republicans — 52 percent — said Trump was “godly.”

— Read on www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article208990104.html




Do We Really Want Our Government Run Like a Business? | Sojourners

In the Easter sermon at my own church, the priest commented that Jesus was killed by the 1 percent, in the form of an empire that exploited its citizenry for the sake of profit and growth. While this sentiment might not be surprising where I live in liberal Northern California, it’s also present throughout the Bible. President Trump, whose own religious beliefs remain puzzling, vague, and nearly impossible to parse even among theologians and religion journalists, has repeatedly pushed policies that are the opposite of many of Christ’s messages even in his short time in office.

Source: Do We Really Want Our Government Run Like a Business? | Sojourners




Evangelical Crisis of Faith

The 20 percent of white evangelicals who did not vote for Trump — many of whom are conservative politically and theologically — now seem to have a lot more in common with mainline Protestants. Some in my own circles have expressed a desire to leave their evangelical churches in search of a more authentic form of Christianity.

Other evangelicals are experiencing a crisis of faith as they look around in their white congregations on Sunday morning and realize that so many fellow Christians were willing to turn a blind eye to all that Trump represents.

via Trump threatens to change the course of American Christianity – The Washington Post