The Social Dilemma is a must see documentary for every social media user. It’s currently available on Netflix.
The Social Dilemma explains in an easy to understand way exactly how the algorithms behind Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube work to keep you looking at your screen, keep you scrolling, keep you clicking. Your eyeballs are income for the company. If the company’s knowledge of you can keep you coming back, keep you addicted, they get richer.
The film brings forward many people who helped build Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites. They talk about what the technology is actually doing and how it’s changing your brain and the entire world. The story is told with the help of clever animations, a family story (featuring Skyler Gisondo, Sophia Hammons, and Kara Hayward) and footage of news events.
Algorithms on platforms like Facebook and YouTube are intended to serve up content that reinforces existing beliefs. The data from your clicks and likes teaches the algorithm what you search for and stop to read. Then it feeds you more and more extreme versions of that content to keep you on the site. That’s how such sites generate income.
What that does to you is separate you from truth, facts, and reality. Disinformation spreads far faster than facts because it’s crazy and excites your brain into looking, into falling down the rabbit hole.
The Social Dilemma was directed by Jeff Orlowski. He did a masterful job of making it real in human terms. He made the technology behind what’s happening clear and easy to understand.
It’s a frightening story that should wake everyone up to the dangers of letting artificial intelligence drive your thinking. All the artificial intelligence is trained to do is make a profit from your use. Truth doesn’t matter. Only attention matters.
The result of using AI to drive you to click and scroll is that people get sent into either right or left wing silos of content. When they come out of them they find that the world is divided into two extremes who don’t believe each other, don’t talk to each other, and don’t trust each other.
In the real world, that results in riots in the streets, destruction of democracies, and increasing suicide rates. Meanwhile, real problems that need solving are lost in the uproar.
The solution suggested is not to stop using social media. The solution involves regulating social media and changing the incentives and disincentives that control the algorithms.
The algorithms in current use were all created by a few 20 something white men living in Silicon Valley. Should they have the power to change the world, topple democracies, or drive teens to suicide while the Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world get rich?
Here’s a look at the preview.
Please watch this documentary and think about it. Also go to thesocialdilemma.com for more ideas.