Fellow Humans: Outsmart the Robots

Featured, Human Interest, The Buzz

By Joe Steinberger — The Old School

The power of organized interests to manipulate our minds has never been greater. Recent super-increases in computer speed and memory are providing the opportunity for artificial intelligence to subjugate us to new levels of dependence. These advanced techniques not only manipulate our buying habits, they manipulate our sense of ourselves and of our place in society, and they sell us political alliances and ideologies.

At the same time, these developments in internet technology provide us with powerful opportunities for independent communication, and for collaboration in defense of our autonomy. We must resist the manipulation and seize these opportunities to develop ways to communicate that are independent of commercial and political manipulation.

For example, we must use email, an independent platform, and our own independent websites, and not use Facebook or other commercially manipulated media that seek to attract our attention away from each other and toward the products they are selling. Despite our best efforts, however, the manipulators will manage to acquire data on our personal habits and will develop smarter and smarter computer algorithms that use our data to attract our attention and shape our picture of the world. Searching for information on Google is extremely useful, but every click we make is remembered, and drives our search to results that not only sell us things in which we have shown an interest, but shape our experience in ways that serve the interests of those who control the algorithms.

It is important for us to make our own judgments, rational judgments, in our own interest, and not be manipulated into behavior which is not in our interest. Our ability to make such rational judgments depends on wisdom acquired from experience of the real world, and from sharing that experience and judgment with each other. When our experience is manipulated by the algorithms of Google, Amazon, Facebook etc. and by the commercial and political interests that pay these media to mold us to their subservience, we become serfs.

How can we resist the power of the algorithms to manipulate us? We must be unpredictable.

Much as the corporate robots may know about us, must rely on a much broader set of data, data taken from the mass, and rely on that data to develop their techniques for manipulating us. They must rely on the assumption that our behavior and way of thinking are like those of at least a substantial segment of the public.

To some extent, of course, we are all alike. We are humans. We have ego and libido, and an appetite for food. Controlling these things has always been a challenge, and the algorithms will take advantage of our human appetites and make it harder for us to resist them. Nevertheless, we can defend ourselves, and we must if we are to survive.

We must outsmart the algorithms, and for this we have a huge advantage. We are in fact smarter than all the computers in the world put together. That same humanity that makes us vulnerable, makes us strong.

Show me one country in the world that is run by a network of computers. The very idea is absurd. Someone, or some group of people, must be running the computers. They are ones in power, not the computers. They make the rules that the computers follow.

So your challenge to be smarter than the computers is actually a challenge to be smarter than the people who control the computers. You are up against humans, a bigger challenge, but you still have a big advantage. You are just you, thinking for yourself – or at least you could be thinking for yourself.

The computer moguls think for themselves too, but the whole basis of their power over us is that they are trying to control many people, not just themselves. They must think in generalities, in norms and conventions. We are focused on ourselves, and we can know ourselves better than they can. It might be amusing to doubt this, but really as a practical matter it is true. It is true, at least, if we are independent thinking people and do not follow the crowd.

Our best way to maintain our independence is to communicate with each other. This is for two reasons. First, because communicating with each other helps us build intelligence and judgment, without which our mono-brain is likely to lead us to failure. Second, because if we do not communicate independently with each other we will be much more likely to be drawn into the communication sphere which is manipulated by the moguls.

In the end it is up to us. It will do us no good to complain. We must stand up for ourselves, think independently, and work together for a better future. We must stop blaming each other, stop taking sides in the grand blame game that is distracting us from our own interests. We must learn to get along with each other and work together to solve the many problems that our plutocracy/ bureaucracy has created for us.

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