Algorithms and propagandists exploit the human instinct to connect to play us.
– We invest trillions in companies that develop algorithms designed to play us for the sake of profits.
– Facebook algorithms, for instance, show us content that will provoke emotional responses.
– The algorithms look for “exploits” in humans, find how we establish rapport with others, and leverage it for marketing.
Douglas Rushkoff is the host of the Team Human podcast and a professor of digital economics at CUNY/Queens. He is also the author of a dozen bestselling books on media, technology, and culture, including, Present Shock, Program or Be Programmed, Media Virus, and his latest, Team Human (https://goo.gl/QmibYm)
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Well, I’m actually the guy With the term media virus, in a book I wrote in 1994. And I look at viral media and weaponized memetics as kind of my problem child. I originally saw it as the province of the counterculture, that what we could do is identify these sort of unresolved issues in society and then nest in them and provoke an immune response– so whether it’s racism or poverty or corporate malfeasance, all the kinds of things that don’t really get on the tube or don’t really get discussed in an appropriate way. The only people who ended up buying that book, really, were marketers and, like, Russian propagandists.
So they look at it and they use these ideas not to promote cultural growth or awareness, but to just provoke a response, to sensationalize anything by any means necessary. And propagandists ended up really good at this. They look for whatever issues are creating the most tension in America, and then, how do we spread it? So, you know, gun control or abortion. You look for things. And what you do is really operationalize conflict. How do we get people to look at those who disagree with them as less than human? And whether you’re a Left blue state person or a red Right state person, if you’re watching this, I encourage you to think about how is it that you think about those others? Are you thinking about them as less than you? You probably are. It’s really hard not to these days…