How Normal Am I?
Comment of the Day

August 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Normal Am I?

This exercise created by the EU may be of interest. It purports to show you how attractive you are from an AI’s perspective but then concludes by sharing some insights about you. (I won’t spoil the surprise).

Eoin Treacy's view

There is a great deal of debate at present about whether AI is capable of sentience. It seems to me this discussion is taking place without first considering to what extent free will exists. After all human beings are self-aware from a young age but capacity of free and independent thoughts, which translate into action, is a learned skill and never fully attained.

Social media algorithms thrive on the realization that free will is a myth. The unconscious mind is the unseen decision maker for everyone. Social media posts are designed to appeal to the raw emotions that influence the unconscious mind.

Unfortunately, this is not new news. In 2014 Facebook, in conjunction with Cornell University, altered the news feed of 700,000 users to demonstrate “emotional contagion”. Here is a section from an article in the Scientific American:

“… most of the current online ecosystem, is an arm’s race to the unconscious mind: notifications, microtargeted ads, autoplay plugins, are all strategies designed to induce addictive behavior, hence to manipulate…Social computing shows that you don’t necessarily have to read people’s brains to influence their choices. It is sufficient to collect and mine the data they regularly—and often unwittingly—share online.

Set aside for a moment that technical analysts have been aware of psychological contagion for a century and instead think of what this means for how public opinion is influenced by politicians and their respectively aligned media influencers.

The basis for civil society is that everyone is responsible for their own actions, so punishment and reward are just desserts. The logical conclusion from accepting free will is a myth questions that system and everything which relies on it such as an independent judiciary and property rights. 

The emerging class struggle in several countries taps into this reality and is fueled by massive wealth gaps. In just the same way that food price inflation has caused social unrest throughout history, there is real scope for unrest as people struggle to get by with inflationary pressures persisting for an uncomfortably long time.

Ultimately, the success of collectivism versus libertinism comes down to the availability and abundance of resources. Abundance was an inspiring theme a decade ago. Today ii is not as welcome an argument following a global pandemic, war in Europe, an energy crisis and politicians that rule through focus groups and social media feedback loops.

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