Monday, April 26, 2021

Internet companies' monopolistic powers dangerous for democracy and social stability


Lake near NOVA Fairfax hospital, VA

David Schmachtenberg and Bret Weinstein discuss the idea that social media is bad for democracy, in Feb. 2011, on Weinstein's "Dark Horse podcasts". 

The experience shows that most people are driven farther apart into ideologically hostile camps.  There are not enough well-educated intellectuals in the middle to keep the system sane.

The algorithms are based on dopamine hits, just like processed foods, which make some people obese.  Likewise, maybe half the population can remain reasonably fit on a western diet, but many people (especially with non-European ancestry, since Europeans evolved in a colder climate which may have worked to their competitive advantage, politically incorrect or not) cannot. 

A similar video in March 2021 with Tristan Harris looks at how social media could be regulated so that it doesn’t perform “gain of function” experiments on driving society into more deeply divided camps (as Russia did with the 2016 elections).

The videos mention the warnings of music composer Jaron Lanier (whose works and books I have reviewed before on my blogs).

Harris seems to like the way the world was during Web 1.0, before algorithms driven by ads governed what people saw.  But in a Web 1.0 world (I call it the “weakless universe” Internet), individuals with relatively little volume according to usual analytics can become influential as to policy choices if the right people (other elites and politicians) find them online or hear about them.  That’s also anti-democratic and undercuts conventional organizing and activism.

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