021 - 16. A Byte's Fuel
Part III-D: The Algorithm (continued)
Our good buddy Max is now live and visible in the Facebook / Internet matrix. On the previous post, we showcased a small sample set of 3 friends, their interests, and probability of being exposed to Max within their given feeds. To stress the most important point of the last post...each Facebook user is run through a series of algorithmic cycles every second and for every post. The computation within Facebook is constantly trying to guess what actions are going to keep that user on the platform, engaged, and most importantly, eager to come back for more. Isn't this a digital form of substance abuse? We are constantly feeding into an addiction of attention and gossip simply to satisfy an itch that is controlled by an artificial intelligence publishing platform. So here's the question of this post...What happens if we (the users) stop feeding it information?
If we had the ability to define intelligence as a whole (organic & artificial), would it be safe to claim that intelligence is defined by the ability to analyze input? Seems very 'digital', but run with me here. Take our own human experiences for the first example. We learn every day...whether we realize it or not. The simple act of opening our eyes and living our lives means that our brains are processing quadrillion bits of data and information, hence learning. What would happen if we are left alone in a dark room? The brain is powerful enough to attempt to create reality through thoughts...but the truth is, over a long period of time, the processing power declines and the user can no longer function. Now to artificial use. If Facebook's platform thrives off of user input, is it safe to say that a complete boycott of all networks would put an end to the tech giant? The answer is complex...but based on the argument made in this post...Yes.
I am a part of the last generation that experienced life before and after the accessibility of the internet. Sometimes it is quite difficult to remember the way things were before we all became plugged in. What would happen if next Thursday, the world decided to not use the internet? All providers unplug their massive modems...All satellites go offline...All cell phones simply become phones again. What if this blackout lasted for several days? weeks? months? Besides the fact that an alarming percentage of the population will go through addiction withdrawal...what happens to business? economies? world governments? How 'in the dark' will every aspect of our existence feel? So many hypothetical questions to consider, but all raise eyebrows. We have become so dependent on the capabilities that the internet offers...so much so...that we cannot even imagine how we would react without it! For someone like myself who lived pre & post internet revolution, its crazy to see how dependent we have all become in less than one lifetime.
Humanity has evolved with any given environment. It is for this reason why we have climbed to the top of the food chain and become the most dominant species this planet has ever had as occupants. Losing something so dependable and critical to our way of life today will not end our species nor our dominant status. It may to some...but as a whole it will not. But what about tech giants such as Facebook? These companies are arguably the most powerful entities the world has ever known. Just recently, they completely silenced and banned the former President of the United States. They also have had very serious and direct impacts on election results, both here in the US and abroad. If the rug is pulled out from under them, and they no longer have the ability to have users link in...can they survive? It is very difficult to understand how they would be able to. The algorithm's power comes from predicting the behavior of its users. In order to maximize the potential of predicting correctly, it must refer to past behaviors. Without the reference of the past...the percentage of predicting accurately decreases, and therefore loses the credibility with the users. It dies away...only recycling information over and over again.
Next Thursday the internet is no-doubtingly not going anywhere. Everyone will log into something throughout the day and life will continue as we know it. The Facebook monster will continue to grow as we feed it more data...and in turn...it will feed our addictions. This vicious cycle does not look like it has any chance of slowing down. At this point nothing can get in its way...except us. I've mentioned several times that we are the assets...we are the commodity. Our input is the driving force behind everything that Facebook has become. If we choose to...we can end it. Easier said than done...after all...how would we know the dates of your friends birthdays? How would you know which vegetable you resemble?