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Sun Apr 15, 2018, 03:41 AM

The Internet Apologizes: Even those who designed our digital world are aghast at what they created

http://nymag.com/selectall/2018/04/an-apology-for-the-internet-from-the-people-who-built-it.html

Something has gone wrong with the internet. Even Mark Zuckerberg knows it. Testifying before Congress, the Facebook CEO ticked off a list of everything his platform has screwed up, from fake news and foreign meddling in the 2016 election to hate speech and data privacy. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility,” he confessed. Then he added the words that everyone was waiting for: “I’m sorry.”

There have always been outsiders who criticized the tech industry — even if their concerns have been drowned out by the oohs and aahs of consumers, investors, and journalists. But today, the most dire warnings are coming from the heart of Silicon Valley itself. The man who oversaw the creation of the original iPhone believes the device he helped build is too addictive. The inventor of the World Wide Web fears his creation is being “weaponized.” Even Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, has blasted social media as a dangerous form of psychological manipulation. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he lamented recently.

To understand what went wrong — how the Silicon Valley dream of building a networked utopia turned into a globalized strip-mall casino overrun by pop-up ads and cyberbullies and Vladimir Putin — we spoke to more than a dozen architects of our digital present. If the tech industry likes to assume the trappings of a religion, complete with a quasi-messianic story of progress, the Church of Tech is now giving rise to a new sect of apostates, feverishly confessing their own sins. And the internet’s original sin, as these programmers and investors and CEOs make clear, was its business model.

To keep the internet free — while becoming richer, faster, than anyone in history — the technological elite needed something to attract billions of users to the ads they were selling. And that something, it turns out, was outrage. As Jaron Lanier, a pioneer in virtual reality, points out, anger is the emotion most effective at driving “engagement” — which also makes it, in a market for attention, the most profitable one. By creating a self-perpetuating loop of shock and recrimination, social media further polarized what had already seemed, during the Obama years, an impossibly and irredeemably polarized country.


Very long article, worth reading.

15 replies, 1855 views

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 04:04 AM

1. Give humans a great tool and they will always find a way to abuse it and

f'it up!

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Response to Skittles (Reply #2)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 05:47 AM

3. Don't blame the tool

There have always been stupid people. The internet just gave them a platform on which to put it on display.

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Response to SnowCritter (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 04:55 PM

15. No, it's worse than that.

Dumb people have always existed, always will. But they're dumb for two possible reasons: The first is genetic or developmental, their wetware just isn't up to some topics. That you're born with, "growth mindset" notwithstanding.

The second is a lack of input to nurture and learn to use what they have. It's often been said that a lack of stimulus, of engagement, of access to information is a problem in low-achieving neighborhoods, typically poor neighborhoods. I think of this as imposed stupidity.

This is universalizing that, setting the standard downward, with kids who would have been doing things and exploring their world sitting there for even more hours texting about who's sleeping with whom or who has green hair today or fought with his/her parents; kids who only interact outside their limited peer group and cultural milieu when bored or forced to, and who'd rather take 10 minutes deciding on dog-ears or pig-snout for their next social media post. Why do something real when you can play text pool with a friend?

Studies reported that the old "your attention span is 2 minutes plus your age." I've heard a few different numbers, but the additional few minutes doesn't matter for my point. And they always put an upper limit, something like 30 minutes, and limit it to "one way flow of information" or some such. And that's probably for '60s college kids, meaning there's a strong population skewness, it's almost certainly the result of learning and conditioning. More recent studies of teens put it substantially lower--instead of 20 minutes for a high school senior, it's more like 5 minutes, or less. This may be the result of technology on a similar cohort, so it's a real change, or it might have two variables at play in that the cohort is also changing so the subjects aren't really the same as studied before.

But I have trouble in class with the same kind of kids I was teaching nearly a decade ago, same topic, and they just can't stay tuned in or wait patiently for 30 seconds. It's beyond them, the constant need for stimulation and gratification or validation. (Of course, this is true for many, but far from all of the kids I know.)

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Response to Skittles (Reply #2)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 05:59 AM

4. The same can be said of TV's, Cars, etc.

I am in my 60's and I still find that most people from my age group lack basic math skills. They lack basic job skills as well, which explains why we have Trump today. He didn't get there from the youth, but rather from the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers.

I have found that todays youth are smarter than my generation. Yes, there will be plenty of uneducated regardless of which group you choose, but to bash a generation without looking at one's own is foolhardy.

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Response to padfun (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 06:22 AM

5. who is bashing a generation?

 

I see ALL generations acting like idiots with their hand-helds

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Response to Skittles (Reply #5)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 09:31 AM

9. I wasnt directing it at you but in general.

It was to add to the first part. I should have put it better.
But you are right. I guess that is just what humans are.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 07:18 AM

6. The internet leveled social strata and gave equality to deplorables before they were the deplorables

The classiest people I know are older, and while they use technology, they are unaware of pop culture anger. They don't understand tattoos. They watch classic movies.

Those immersed in the internet are exposed to it all, all week long. What's loud, arrogant, attention-seeking, headline-making is what dominates the agenda. Wowzers are the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

The internet creates internal anger because it frustrates mind by constantly disrupting logic and reasoning and consensus. Everytime the world is ordered it is immediately shuffled. There is no stability.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 08:53 AM

7. Bread and Circises

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 09:29 AM

8. I'm shocked that nobody is blaming Gore.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 10:05 AM

10. Give a man a fish and he is fed one day, give him a fishing rod...

and he'll figure out how to get "free" pornography every night.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 11:38 AM

11. Thanks for posting this. It was a thoughtful set of insights.

You know, I even get followed by ads on here? They don't bother me much.

I turned off my Facebook because I'm not doing that.

But...I get my news from here, Huffington Post, The Hill and CNN. Those ads follow me because I use Chrome as my search platform - I don't like Bing or Mozilla that much. Just personal preference I guess.

And, do you know the ad has an X. When you hit it, you get a deal that says 'stop seeing this ad?' then are forced to choose between five reasons why, which are lame because the reasons they force me into putting are NOT my reasons, so I just usually say 'not interested in that ad.'

There's a hell of a lot to think about here.

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Response to PatrickforO (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 12:25 PM

13. thanks, and if you donate to Democratic Underground, you can get rid of the ads

https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=star

Suggested payment is $35 per year. Well worth it to me and you're supporting the site.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 11:47 AM

12. Using outrage to deliver eyeballs (or ears) started with talk radio and fox news,

so it's not new to the internet. Still a great article, though.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2018, 02:09 PM

14. Pretty self-serving apologies. They are laughing all the way to the bank.

Turning a blind eye to massive collection of personal information by anyone who pay a fee was how Facebook monetized their platform. If they had set the default of privacy controls to zero, none of this would have happened, and Facebook would not be an obscenely wealthy profit-making enterprise.

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