Ask A Genius 52 – The American Election 3
Scott Douglas Jacobsen and Rick Rosner
January 8, 2017
Scott: Social media is very custom as well, and this played a role.
Rick: Social media wouldn’t be as delicious as it is if it weren’t super targeted and individualized, which is made possible through massive computation, massive information processing. Social media rests on a foundation of masses of servers, hugely complicated apps someplace, feeding us what we want all of the time. So that we’re not just computing in our head. We’re interacting more and more, and exporting more and more of our personalities. We are still at a fairly non-immersive stage. VR is just starting to become a thing.
Scott: You have mentioned Zuckerberg making Facebook ‘telepathic.’
Rick: He said a couple of years ago that we’ll be telepathic, which means the best social media will get better and better at transmitting versions of what we’re thinking. Right now, we’re mostly communicating via words, but more and more via words that we’ve either selected or either personally collected or captured via a phone camera or phone video.
And what we’re able to transmit among ourselves will become more and more, will contain more and more information, reflective of our mental landscapes, we’ll more and more export the content of our thoughts. We’ll become less and less islands and more connected with each other. While this is going on, there will be a rising tide of sophisticated and to some extent self-directed information processors that aren’t human, and we will eventually become enveloped in the worldwide thought sphere. I think some people call it the noosphere, which means thought sphere.
Where there’s going to be a lot, a lot, of information processing going on and less and less of it going on in our meat brains, though, we will continue to participate more and more fully in this thought sphere. That will usher in the third big human, or if you want to call it post-human, because some people do, period, where humans don’t have dominion, but we share dominion with other information processors. We become part of this worldwide information processing enterprise, which has both individualistic and group aspects. We’ll probably see all flavors of individual information processing and group information processing as we build more and more technology to make our thoughts accessible to each other and to build other things that have their own thoughts.
We can talk about some of the flavors – like some people will become the steroid abusers of thought. Where people, some people, will try to make themselves the most powerful information processors on the planet as individuals by augmenting their brains, other people will try to do this by using technology that allows people to bridge thoughts plus added thinking power – as groups. Some people will not be interested in building 19″ mental biceps that way. More people will simply be more and more linked computationally to other people.
I haven’t seen statistics, but it looks like one of those hockey-stick graphs. The amount of information that we share with each other per minute has to be like a 100,000 times more now than it was in the 1930s. A lot of that information seems like garbage. Russian videos of crazy Russian drivers, but still information. It is not like the information in the 1930s weren’t garbage, like Tiahuana Bibles were pornographic versions of popular comic strips, can’t get more garbage than that.
It just turns out that in the election 2016 that one of the aspects of this rise of personal information was that it kind of turns us more into pricks than perhaps we’ve been in the past, more individualistic, more entitled, more likely to say “F- you, everybody else.” Also, more manipulable via personalized information, which is another thing. Once we get more and more immersed into the worldwide thought sphere, our ability to understand what’s going on will get worse and worse. Well, we’ll get better at not being manipulated by certain things.
When I was a kid in 5th and 6th grade, we were taught as a lesson in civics how not to be manipulated by TV ads. You are taught the various pitches that TV makes. There were a bunch. We were taught to see through them, whether we did or not. At least, somebody was trying to teach us that. At this point, we are probably pretty resistant to manipulation. But some forms of TV ads are pretty effective. Everybody has their bubble.
The 2 or 3 places I go to see the news every day are HuffPo, Slate, and Salon, which are all pretty liberal websites. Only occasionally do I go to Drudge to see what conservatives are thinking, but I can’t stay there too long because it pisses me off. I am in my own information bubble, at least I know it. There are a lot of people who are thinking they are getting the truth and who are at least as bubble-bound as I. I think that eventually we will learn to see through a lot of the content that comes to us over the internet.
But there will be other means of streaming information into ourselves that we’ll always have something that messes with or will be beyond our ability to be manipulated by, as we move into the future – even as we learn how to not be manipulated by slightly older forms of information.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
American Television Writer
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