With researchers predicting how AI will be used for nefarious purposes, Facebook wrecking journalism at an alarming rate, the threat to democracy, the growing trend of deep fakes, there is an argument that we may be enjoying our last days of reality. And since big techs are not interested in fixing the issue, perhaps we need to fix it ourselves once we learn more about it. Very interesting times indeed.
[...] Never transparent about how it applies the information supplied by its two billion monthly users, Facebook had been caught red-handed: exploiting the weak spots of teenagers in their moments of greatest vulnerability, watching, waiting then delivering a targeted message at the moment of maximum impact. In another context, this could be read as something akin to torture or brainwashing. For Facebook, it was just business as usual.
The revelation forces us to confront some unpleasant thoughts about how the world works in 2017, and where things appear to be headed. As problematic as Facebook has become, it represents only one component of a much broader shift into a new human connectivity that is both omnipresent (consider the smartphone) and hypermediated—passing through and massaged by layer upon layer of machinery carefully hidden from view. The upshot is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine what in our interactions is simply human and what is machine-generated. It is becoming difficult to know what is real.
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