In my previous post, ‘Is Facebook the Real Big Brother’, I talked about Facebook and manipulation. Here, now, is a TED talk from 2011 about the ‘personalisation’ of the internet, and how it locks us in rather than freeing us up.
I have to say I was shocked when I watched this TED talk, especially as Eli Pariser foresaw the problems we’re now facing…6 years ago. I was also shocked because I had no idea that even my searches were being ‘tailored’ for me by Google.
“From human gatekeepers to algorithmic ones.”
When I do a search, I want it to be relevant, yes, but I also want to see what’s out there. I want to choose what I see, because if I can’t see the things that I may not like, I may be manipulated into seeing things that are skewed for someone else’s benefit.
Cambridge Analytics already boasts that:
- it knows us better than we know ourselves and
- used that knowledge in both the Trump election and Brexit.
Truth or bullshit?
Given the company’s connection to billionaire software genius Robert Mercer*, and Mercer’s connection to Breitbart and Bannon, I can’t shrug it off as bullshit. But if Trump and Brexit are possible, then Eli Pariser’s filter bubble could turn out to be more like a noose.
My thanks to Honie Briggs for the link to the TED talk.
*The Guardian expose is here and you can Google the details to check their validity:
As an Australian, I’m not that concerned with Brexit and the economic upheaval it may cause. It won’t have a huge impact here so selfishly, I can afford to sit back and just watch history in the making. As a student of human nature, however, I’m worried by the implications. You see, half the shock generated by Brexit seems to be because most people did not believe it could happen. And then it did.
Since the results of the referendum were made public, the one question on most lips is ‘why?’ and the answer seems to be ‘dissatisfaction’. But dissatisfaction with what, exactly?
I’m wading out into uncharted waters here, but my personal opinion is that Brexit was a kind of protest vote about conditions [in GB] in general and the perceived inadequacies of the EU in particular. I think the tsunami of Refugees has also given rise to a kind of low grade, xenophobia that is not restricted to Great Britain alone. But again, I think the underlying malaise is about dissatisfaction with life in the era of European Union. And when enough people become dissatisfied, leaders will always rise up offering both a scapegoat and a ‘way out’.
And so the unthinkable happened. Brexit happened. Now let’s take a quick flight over the Atlantic to the US.
Most people, myself included, still see Donald Trump as a buffoon who could not possibly win. But what if the malaise that led to Brexit is the same as the malaise gripping the US? What if Donald Trump has honed in on a level of dissatisfaction that is ready to explode like the US version of Brexit?
I still believe that Donald Trump as President is unthinkable, but post Brexit I’m no longer sure that it is. And that is a worry.