I just watched this documentary on Netflix; “The social network dilemma” it’s a good one; if you spend more than 2h/day on insta, fb, tw, &co — consider watching it. It was not entirely news for me. I am familiar with how user data is collected, processed, analyzed, and monetized but not at this scale. In this documentary, you get to hear the people who design these platforms and algorithms and what they have to say about manipulating millions of users for the sake of corporate profit. It is not only about persuading people to buy a product or another; the larger problem is with serving content made to be consumed compulsively.
The bad the good and the ugly.
With this amount of personal data, they can create a persona for each user and then run predictive algorithms on it to suggest the most engaging content for that particular user. People know about this from their own experience, you click on a video, and then bam, you’re on a youtube rabbit hole. This is ugly. It led to widening the gap between extremes, alienating the youth, interfering with democracy, destroying lives, and — just think about the cumulated number of hours each human spends mindlessly scrolling, liking, or watching youtube videos. It’s huge.
The bad is that it’s for-profit, and most of the ‘users’ think they are in control. They have absolutely no idea that they are being manipulated. More so, by whom and what are the resources mobilized for doing so at this scale.
And what good? There must be something more than cants, no? Yes, the world’s knowledge at your fingertips. Uber, Zoom, Whatsapp the countless productivity tools we use every day, and so much more. We’re far beyond that point where we can’t do without. But maybe we can do without all these apps that are sapping the life out of us. Until when? I remain a bit skeptical; I know for certain, with the rise of AI, Facebook and Google will get even more powerful and intrusive in people’s lives. Will people be capable of adapting? Hmm… I don’t think so. Let’s hope.
The larget philosophical question; does prediction = control? Yes, it’s been proven.
I will post a guide for tech-detox soon. Stay tuned.