It started with this.
— Jeffrey Alan Johnson (@the_other_jeff) August 15, 2015
And led to this.
And so the discussion kind of turned to one of what is a waffle? Or rather, how is an Eggo not a waffle?
Some people feel I have a one-track mind, or a little bit of an obsessive-compulsive order. Sometimes I just can’t let things go, like Eggos. I understand where Jeff is coming from in his comment. It is about quality. It implies that something mass-produced and sold frozen is not the same as the thing as made from scratch.
It may not be as good, but it is the same thing. It says so on the package.
They look like waffles. There are shaped life waffles. They have square indentations to hold, syrup, melted butter, sugar, and frosting. Or sausage gravy. They taste like waffles and are almost as good as those served at Waffle House. (That may just be a function of cleanliness.)
Ergo, they are waffles.
Why this matters is again all about counting to one. Language tells us that these are waffles. They have all the obvious characteristics of waffles. It is taste, preference, some other subjective criteria that interfere with some calling an Eggo a waffle.
This is the inherent bias of problems of data systems, and the threat of big data. Automatic application of bias based on unarticulated subjective criteria. I don’t accuse Jeff of anything, I know full well this was light-hearted Twitter conversation about food that I inserted myself into. It is a great example though of how we need to think about data decisions and bias. Especially as matters of belief creep in.
— Jeffrey Alan Johnson (@the_other_jeff) August 16, 2015
At some point in the future, we will have synthetic/artificial persons, a la Heinlein’s Friday or Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. We will have to fight to ensure fair treatment and honest counting. Belief can be a poisonous thing in counting.