"It is aggressively, chillingly ahuman, a machine signaling to machines for some algorithmic purpose whose human-centered antecedents are long lost. It is not even fake; it simply exists outside any realm where reality might matter."

The first flash of old-fashioned outrage -- somebody is stealing our stuff! -- faded before it had even fully arrived, replaced by an ever-more-familiar sense of dread and loathing. Neither "somebody" nor "stealing" were the right concepts; the video was too incomprehensible for that, and until I'd clicked on it, it had zero views. It cut out after 3 minutes and 20 seconds, in the middle of the text.

There was no motive behind it; there wasn't even a mind. We were so far out beyond the realm of copyright infringement, the only logical thing to do was to rip back the whole video of our own copyrighted text and repost it ourselves. Here it is:

The user account that had posted it, "smokaj0000," has plenty more content or content-like objects where that came from. Its YouTube videos page is a solid wall of "No Views" videos, sprinkled here and there with videos that have gotten some tiny number of views. Since it posted the video based on our blog post a week ago, it has put up more than 600 new videos. [...]

(After we posted our copy of the smokaj0000 video to the Hmm Daily YouTube account, we received a copyright warning that it was being blocked because something called "HEXACORP LTD" had filed a copyright claim on the audio track "cool-mbia."

So we replaced the audio and tried to figure out what HexaCorp was, which led to a completely impenetrable HexaCorp website which says its mission is to "Deliver high end solutions & services, collaborate customer data & people by adapting latest technologies & tools establish customer friendly process and create effective solutions with focus towards 'Best Services Interest' and 'Maximum Value for Money'." More Googling found that HexaCorp appears as the owner of record in the end-user licensing agreement for a streaming service called Orfium. The initial video with the soundtrack remains unblocked. )

Whatever smokaj0000 is doing, it is not producing content for human consumption. It is aggressively, chillingly ahuman, a machine signaling to machines for some algorithmic purpose whose human-centered antecedents are long lost. It is not even fake; it simply exists outside any realm where reality might matter.

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8 Responses:

  1. MattyJ says:

    Reminds me of that Britney Spears Instagram comment thing from a couple years ago, where hackers were using comments to broadcast encoded messages (IP addresses of command and control servers.)

  2. Waider says:

    I assumed this was the next in the Alien vids. Hexacorp, a wholly-owner subsidiary of Weyland Yutani.

    • jwz says:

      Not saying it’s not?

    • Nick Lamb says:

      Seems likely that WY is the type of corporation that snuffs out even the smallest trace of independence from acquisitions after a brief period.

      Step 1. Dinosaur assures everybody that New Acquisition will be allowed to retain its unique ("quirky" someone might suggest, before they're glared at and remember not to talk loud enough for the rich old white men who make all the decisions to hear) ethos. Nothing will change™.

      Step 2. Hand-picked executives are parachuted in to "help" at New Acquisition. They gently "suggest" getting rid of things that make it different, maybe just as an interim measure, and to "try" things that make it more like every other part of the Dinosaur. Technically these people report directly to the CEO of Dinosaur and outrank everyone at New Acquisition, but they'll be at pains to make clear that these are just "suggestions". A name change comes too, now you're New Acquisition - a Dinosaur company. Every new sign you see after this will make your name smaller and theirs bigger.

      Step 3. Everybody from the before times is let go, or if that's illegal, sidelined in an effort to make sure they understand they aren't welcome. This is the point where the gloves come off the Legal Department too, thinking of setting off to replicate the original business? Here's our lawyer to assure you that we believe that's illegal‡

      Step 4. "Rationalisation" replaces any traces of the independent existence of New Acquisition entirely, signs now just say "Dinosaur", your web site is now a 30x redirect to the dinosaur site.

      ‡ In our real world this actually does "work" if you're a risk taker, know where to get the money, and know a decent lawyer. The Dinosaur isn't really agile enough to stop you, but they can scare random VCs away. If you don't need to hustle for VC you can be in business and eating their lunch before they even write the Letter Before Action. If you want you can make your whole career just consist of making a company that does X, getting acquired by huge corporation that can't do X, then leaving and making another company that does X, repeating. The huge corporation is pathologically incapable of understanding why the acquisitions don't help, so this will work essentially forever. Turn over at Dinosaur is probably rapid enough that the handshake photo opportunities for each successive acquisition may not feature any repeat faces except yours.

  3. Mbourgon says:

    Surprised they didn't go further down the rabbit hole. Try and find former employees via LinkedIn, etc.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Perhaps it's some kind of steganographic dead-drop for bots

  5. Aidan Gauland says:

    So... we have no answer, do we?

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