Is that you, or the algorithm speaking?

in Deep Dives15 days ago

I have spent a lot of time over the years writing about the potential risks of internet usage and social media consumption and how it leverages our hardwiring to drive our behavior to churn profits. I talk about it offline as well and am often ridiculed at my position as seeing it as a risk to our future at a fundamental level, as it polarizes and creates fear in minds already primed for manipulation, already scared about their place in the world, their relevance.

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Tonight I watched the Netflix documentary/drama The Social Dilemma after a couple of my friends said the had watched it and had thought of me. As I watched it, I felt I could have written it or perhaps, I felt I already have and it is all contained somewhere on this blockchain, hidden behind obscure titles, referencing AI, data gathering, digital dolls representing us, depression and disconnection, apathy, disinterest and the driving competition for our attention. People see me as alarmist, but I see the look in the eyes of our youth.

I am not going to go into the movie now - but I do think it is worth a watch and even though the drama scenes are not well acted, the interviews with insiders of the industry are worth it.

However, while watching it a thought came to mind about content creation, something that I tend to be able to do relatively well,even though I am a terrible consumer. I actually value my ability to create without having to feed off the current events news, internet searches or whatever show I just watched. It is not that I don't talk about some of the same things, but pretty much all of my content comes directly from my real world interactions, the discussions I have, the situations I notice and how I think about what I have observed.

There is overlap in topic, because while I do not consume much on the internet, everyone else does and people talk about what they have consumed, as it is in the forefront of their mind. This is part of how the digital curation from the platforms affects the real world narrative, relationships and behaviors. We surround ourselves with content we consume and we become what we eat - products of what has been pushed to us through a thousand channels, a million times.

I was wondering though, with people attached to their screens, scrolling their feeds, tapping selfies, hearting tweets and watching the endless YouTube playlists - how much of our real life discussion is sourced from real life itself? When I sit down at a coffee table at work, the discussion (if not work related) seems to be largely sourced from online life, not from direct personal experience - nearly everything is second hand. When I am at home it is a little different as it is my wife catching up on the day or talking about our life with renovations - but we don't watch much and when we are at home together, we are not on our phones.

I wonder what the ratio would be on average for the real:digital conversation source metric. I wonder if this would change based on age and how much would it change. I have friends or friends with kids in various age groups younger than myself and the discussions seem to be almost entirely internet referenced, with very little personal thought put into the topics at all. It is quite easy to observe how much people take from the internet when they all start using the same terms simultaneously or when someone uses a new term, others already know what it means. Trend vocabulary spreads very fast on the internet, as do all of the "social movement" hashtags - it is obvious how much people consume.

A lot of controlling people is about controlling the narrative and the public discourse and through the way we consume digitally, this is relatively easy to achieve. We feel that we are talking about in actual fact, we are parroting back what we have consumed and what we have consumed has been carefully curated for us by an algorithm designed to maximize profit, which also tends to come through the maximization of drama by polarization of social and cultural groups along the myriad lines to select from.

This means that discussing what has been consumed on the internet is essentially repeating what one has been conditioned to repeat by AI and algorithm design - which is a pretty strange concept. What I believe is that the more this happens, the more "self-referential" our conversation becomes with the "self" not being ourself, but rather the internet itself. While interesting to consider, the ramifications are quite incredible - and scary.

While we feel that it is us who are having the conversation, our conversations become increasingly parallel to the advertising model, where we are discussing the very topics and items that the platforms are getting paid to put inside our psyche and make us want. This means that a feedback loop is set up that keeps driving more of the same into a narrowing run which will not only increase sales, but also increase the extremism of ideas, which will result in increasing social instability - which will lead to more movements, more civil unrest and disruption and of course, more precise and influential ways to leverage our attention and drive our behavior.

We all think we are pretty savvy when it comes to using the internet, we all think we have adapted, we are aware, we are able to catch the scam and filter fact from fiction - I predict that we are much worse at it than we have been led to believe. People don't seem to recognize that the confidence they have in the knowledge they hold can be engineered too.

The program wants us to repeat what it chooses for us to speak and our creative thought is the bug in the code. Lucky for the program, it is weeding creativity out of us through every click we make.

I plan to stay a bug.

Taraz
[ Gen1: Hive ]


A few more related articles of mine from the past (from a quick search) - Unvetted.

https://hive.blog/informationwar/@tarazkp/shooting-the-mouth-engineered-violence
https://hive.blog/thoughts/@tarazkp/how-long-s-that-rope
https://hive.blog/philosophy/@tarazkp/left-to-our-own-devices
https://hive.blog/philosophy/@tarazkp/the-intentional-miseducation-of-society
https://hive.blog/society/@tarazkp/how-to-get-completely-c-nned
https://hive.blog/society/@tarazkp/emotional-control-the-sky-is-falling
https://hive.blog/philosophy/@tarazkp/the-dilution-solution
https://hive.blog/philosophy/@tarazkp/a-lack-of-sensitivity-the-emotionally-stunted-oppressor
https://hive.blog/science/@tarazkp/ai-drifting-away-from-life
https://hive.blog/future/@tarazkp/automatic-smiles
https://hive.blog/technology/@tarazkp/ai-vs-ai-robot-wars
https://hive.blog/philosophy/@tarazkp/broken-eye-contact-and-future-depression
https://hive.blog/conspiracy/@tarazkp/leaked-report-facebook-cia-blockchain-us
https://hive.blog/informationwar/@tarazkp/the-war-of-the-attention-economy

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Hi @tarazkp,

It really is an interesting question. Although to be honest, I think what you are raising is not a new problem. For thousands of years, elites have campaigned to manipulate people to force them to do their bidding. When it didn't work, They simply used force. Today the strategy has not fundamentally changed, only that the methods and techniques have been perfected. People are asleep, but the worst thing is that many when they wake up prefer to return to the state of the sheep.

In the generation of our grandparents, they used radios, in that of our parents, a combination of radio and television, in mine or ours, incorporating the internet into the aforementioned, and surely in the near future, our children, and grandchildren will deal with Intelligence Artificial (IA) to a degree greater than what we treat.

Sometimes I feel like living in a somewhat dystopian world, I would prefer a utopia, but the reality is overwhelming and points the way to a society in the best style of the Matrix movie.

In all ages there have been individuals who disconnect at some point in their lives from the control scaffolding for their good or bad, in that sense, it is good to be a bug in the system, it is good to savor some freedom.

In the generation of our grandparents, they used radios, in that of our parents, a combination of radio and television, in mine or ours, incorporating the internet into the aforementioned, and surely in the near future, our children, and grandchildren will deal with Intelligence Artificial to a degree greater than what we treat.

I see it as different from the past - the scale is not only far greater, the messaging is tailored to the individual with granular precision. Not only that, there is less psychological separation, it feels much more part of us. Not only this, the ramping up of influence ability are magnitudes greater and there is no evolving the brain to adapt, because it leverages the brain at the fundamental level the way it is.

Sometimes I feel like living in a somewhat dystopian world, I would prefer a utopia, but the reality is overwhelming and points the way to a society in the best style of the Matrix movie.

One interesting idea that was mentioned in the movie was that we are simultaneously living in a dystopia and a utopia, the utopia being the positive emotional feedback we get from the tech, the dystopia being the tech controlling us.

in that sense, it is good to be a bug in the system, it is good to savor some freedom.

The problem with being a bug in today's world is - there is no place to hide from being squashed - the eye of data is all-seeing.

You will have heard about the cycle of life, as well as ancient legends. I think we are reaching the restart of the cycle, perhaps that is why you have the impression that it is something different, but I assure you that it is not. Something indisputable that you mentioned with certainty is that nowadays, disagreeing with the prevailing system is crazy because of the risk of being crushed. I suppose you have read something about Roko's Basilisk, well, you are right there is no escape, however, hope always persists.

I haven't read about that - I don't read much.

I don't think this is the same as in the past - the reset might be species ending.

In order not to read a lot, you write very well. Perhaps it would be better not to read much to avoid confronting the ideas that they want to incur in us, in addition, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was very right when he advised stopping reading the books because they were repetitive, perhaps, he knew something about the manipulation by propaganda.

You're right, we are probably at the end of the cycles.

Reading is good if targeted, but for the most part . it is a space filler - more entertainment. Most of what people read has very little practical value to their lives except maybe being able to have a conversation on a topic. However, that isn't real knowledge, it is repetition. The most interesting conversations are with people who love what they talk about enough to live it and, those who love to think enough about what they love to form their own opinions on it. Rare breeds these days.

The question then, my friend, would be directed by whom? I think that life is a self-discovery for the most daring. I agree people like the ones you describe have always been oddities forever.

I feel that they are becoming ever more rare, as people start to consume the same, talk the same, like the same - globally syndicated information.

Oh yeah - directed by whatever makes profits. It is a feedback mechanism that keeps feeding itself.

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I predict that we are much worse at it than we have been led to believe. People don't seem to recognize that the confidence they have in the knowledge they hold can be engineered too.

I have a saying that I use from time to time that isn't internet related but I guess it could be: "It's not the things I don't know that bite me on the ass, it's the things I do know that are wrong."

I am always concerned about phone consumption. So many people that need to check their phones often to see what it is that they missed or might not be out front of. It's pretty frightening to watch.

I guess I'll just blunder along doing the best I can with what I've got. I use my phone about 6 hours per day. But 4.5 of them are my early morning music :) It was pretty good blues this morning.

90+% of my internet time is Hive - mostly writing :D

I am glad that we have managed to keep Smallsteps screen-free for almost 4 years of her life and it has only crept in the last few months on a very limited allowance. Thankfully, she barely wants to watch stuff if there is anything else to do.

I am going to make a conscious effort to use my phone even less.

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Wise use of the telephone, my friend.

So that's just a now problem and has never existed for as long as there has been media? :)

I was probably entirely algorithm at one stage. Now I'm entirely clueless XD (or possibly was the entire way through as everyone kept screaming GET INFORMED at me every time I disagreed with them because my information was clearly WRONG because it wasn't theirs XD)

So that's just a now problem and has never existed for as long as there has been media?

It has always existed - but not at the scale or concentration it does now. I think that due to the weight of it, it classifies as a new problem.

I was trying to think of a good analogy to demonstrate it. How about this.

Balance the tip of a butter knife on the palm of your hand so you can feel the weight of it. That isn't a problem. Now, I come along and put all of my weight on the knife. Same knife, same tip, same position - new problem?

You are probably more informed now if you observe and think a little more. =)

Perfect photo!

Well, since after all the great links provided, I still think you forgot to add a couple worth to share too in this post. :)

https://www.thesocialdilemma.com

The interesting thing is, I have seen this on the next level — pure speculative fiction. Like "Flashback" where the economy is in shambles, states have dissolved a bit further, people are addicted to reliving their fabulous experience from the past while under the reality simulation drug — by Dan Simmons; "The Wild" where a space pilot lands on a world which is only populated by people living in a VR bubble. Everybody plugged into a mass simulation of bliss that resembles...nature — what they have no more — by David Zindell; any cyberpunk by William Gibbson...

What is interesting about speculative fiction is...to one degree or another, it sees trends, speculates on what could become reality...and is partially correct about the future. The only thing is to discern to what extent. Or for those who prefer movies to books...to what extent will we be living "Equilibrium", "Mad Max", "The Matrix", "Hunger Games", etc. visions. Maybe 1 % of this, 30 % of that, 5 % of this, 20 % of that... With fluctuations...

The most reassuring thing is...Nature and Life themselves are far more...complex and unpredictable, and they have other options to offer. Although, it's again a percentage of what we've seen.

Without media, we see very little. Direct observation is good but way less than what we're driving on. We navigate based on the internet and On-Air media and that's that. The correct education and training of thought is all we can do. Aye, casting our own visions for anybody out there to see, too.

Even personalities and lifestyles are based on outside influences. With or without media, we are being conditioned. Religion was the same thing and still is. All social doctrines have always been.

It's just about the means of delivery.

how much of our real life discussion is sourced from real life itself?

This is a good question. It's again about the narrative, the story. Very few people actually share their real life stories, they mostly repeat what they have heard or seen. Vulnerability is out of fashion if it's mine, it's cool if it's another's. I think that the quest for real will make some of us really want to know the story behind the screen. And for some... It won't matter at all.