« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#218 — Welcome to the Cult Factory

2020-09-24 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Tristan Harris about the ways in which social media is fracturing society. They discuss the rise in teen depression and suicide, political polarization, conspiracy theories, information warfare, the decoupling of power and responsibility, the distinctions between platforms and publishers, the cancellation of Alex Jones, social media-inspired ethnic cleansing, concerns about the upcoming presidential election, culture as an operating system, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Make it has passed SAM Aaron, just a note to say that if you're hearing this, you are not currently on our subscriber feed and will only be hearing partial episode of the podcast. If you'd like access to full episodes, you'll need to subscribe is samharris dot. Org there you'll find our private rss feed dad's your favorite podcast you, along with other subscriber only content. And as always, I never wanted money to be. The reason why someone can't listen to the podcast. So if you can't afford a subscription, there's an option, Samharris dot, org to request a free account and we grant one hundred percent of those requests. No questions asked welcome to making sense podcast. This is SAM Harris, okay, very brief. Housekeeping today Just a couple of announcements: first,
I will be doing another zoom call for subscribers and that will be on October. Seventh, I'm not sure, that's gonna be open, ended q and a or whether the questions we focused on a theme decide that in the next few days, but only when the last one was fun, Hopefully the final continue. So I will see you on October, seventh, should be on my mailing list. If you want those details, also there's a few excite in changes happening over on the waking up side of things. So pay attention over there if you're an app user- and I think that's it- you're, ok,. What's it am speaking with Tristan Harris, Tristan has been on the podcast before and he is one of the central figures in a new documentary which is valuable on Netflix now, and that film is
social dilemma which discusses the growing problem of social media and me fracturing of society, which is our theme today so you're here. I highly recommend that you wash this film Thank you also get a lot from this conversation. I mean if you look at at the world and wondering why things seem so crazy out there Social media is very likely the reason for the reason that is aggregating. So many other reasons. Is the reason why we can't converge on a shared under standing of what's happening so much of the time we can't agree about whether specific events attests to an epidemic of racism in our society
or whether these events are caused by some other derangement in our thinking or just bad incentives or bad luck. We can't agree about. What's actually happening and amazingly we're about to her the presidential election that it seems. Our democracy might not even survive really. It seems very led to worry whether we might be tipped into chaos, by merely holding a presidential election, Fairly amazing, the we're in this spot and social media is largely. The reason is not enough
clearly the reason a lot of this falls on Trump. Some of it falls on the far left, but the fact that we can't stay sane as a society right now. That is largely due to the fact that we are simply drowning in misinformation. In a way that is the topic of today's conversation and I was very happy to get Tristan back on the path cast apology. For the uneven sound pre covered. Bring in everyone into studios where they can be professionally recorded ah now we're shipping people, the zoom devices and microphones, but occasionally the technology fails and we have to rely on the Skype signal. So what we are hearing today is Skype is actually pretty good for Skype.
But apologies. If any the audio sounds some power. Can I bring you Tristan Harris I am here the Tristan Harris Tristan sway to get you back in a broadcast to really get to be back soon. It's been a while, since the first time I was on here yeah, we will cover similar ground, but a lot has happened since we last spoke in its. Is for him to my eye. Everything has gotten worse, so we know that just there's, there's more damage to allies and try to prevent in the future, but before we jump in remind people who you are and how you come at these things. What your brief bio for this relevant to this conversation yeah well just to say briefly,
as one of the reasons why we're talking now in most relevant to my recent biography is the new Netflix documentary that just came out called the social dilemma. Yeah you know in which all these technology insiders are speaking about the Frankenstein that they created will get into that later. Prior to that, I was a Google design at the cyst coming into an accusation about technology companies that I had started called after that Google acquired and after being at the company for little wild migrated into a roll of thinking about how do you ethically here two billion people's attention when you hold the collective human psyche in Europe in your hands and then prior to that, as was also discussed in the film is, I was at a at Stanford, steadied, computer science, human computer interaction, but specifically at a lab called the persuasive technology lab, which I am sure will get into.
Which relates to the sort of a lifelong view of how is the human mind vulnerable to psychological influence and have had a fascination with those topics from colds to sleight hand, magic centralism and heroes like therein Brown, whose mutual friend of ours, and how that plays into the things that we're seeing with technology. Yes, I just want to reiterate that this film, the social dilemma, is on Netflix now and yeah. That's the proximate cause of the conversation, and it really is it's great. It really covers the issue in a compelling way. So I highly recommend people go see that and then I have to go anywhere they just open Netflix and am there's no irony there. I would count Netflix, as I'm sure, an offender in some way, but there, in their business model, release is distinct from much we're gonna talk about him in the data. They could have made the choice to their clearly gaming people's attention because they're they want to cancel churn, they want people on the platform and derive and
what value from the platform as possible? But there is something different going on over there with respect to not not being part of the add economy, and the attention economy in quite the same way, this distinction draw later on. But is there a bright light and between proper subscription services like that and what we're going to talk about. Yet. I think the core question here to talk about is in what, in which ways and where our technologies incentives aligned with the public good, and I think the problem that brings us here today is where technologies incentives are miss aligned with the public good through the business model of advertising and three models. Like user generated content clearly, because we live in a finite attention economy, where there is only so much human attention, we are managing comments, a collective environment and because Netflix, like any other actor, including politicians, including conferences
including your mother, your eye, this pod, castor, my pipe cast, we're all competing for the same finite resource, and so there is a difference I think, and how different business models engage, inattention economy, but a business model in which the cost of producing things that are going to reach exponential numbers of people, exponential broadcasts in case of Netflix, but also in the case of these other companies, there's a difference when there is a sense of ethics or responsibility or privacy or touch childs controls that we add into that equation and I'm sure we'll get mourned. Those topics- road, ok, let's taken from the top here, what's wrong with social media. At this point, if you could boil down to the the elevator pitch answer one
what is the problem that we're goin to him on spool over the next hour or so what's funny, because the film actually opens with that prompt the blank stairs of any technology insiders, including myself, because I think it so hard to define exactly what this problem is. There is clearly a problem of incentives, but the need that there's a problem of what those incentives are doing and where the exact harmed show up and the way that we frame it in the film and in a big presentation, we gave a dash of jazz centre back in April. Twenty nineteen to you know a bunch of the top technologists in, and people in the industry was to say that while we ve all been looking out for the moment when a I would overwhelm human strengths and when we get the singularity, when we may, I take our jobs, would be smarter than humans. We missed this man
much earlier point when technology didn't overwhelmed human strengths, but it undermined human weaknesses and you can actually frame the cacophony of grievances and scandals and problems that we ve seen in the tech industry from distraction to addiction, to polarization to bullying to harassment to break Truth all in terms of progressively hacking, more and more of human vulnerabilities and weaknesses. So if we take it from the top, you know our brains, short term memory system have seven plus or minus two things that we can hold when technology starts to overwhelm are short term and working memory. We feel that as a problem called traction. Oh my gosh, I can't remember what I was doing. I came here to open an email keener to go to Facebook to look something up and I got sat down into something else. That's a problem of over, roaming the human limit, and we could have just started our working memory when it over
arms are don't mean systems and our reward systems that we feel. That is a problem called addiction when it taps into and exploits our reliance on stopping cues. That at some point I will stop talking and that's a queue for you to keep going when technology doesn't stop talking, and it just gives you the indefinite bottomless bull. We feel that, as a problem call the dictionary addictive use when technology exploits our social approval and giving us more and more social approval, we feel that is applied called team depression, because suddenly children are dosed with social approval, every few minutes and are hungry for more likes and comparing themselves in terms of the currency of likes and when technology hacks the limits of our heuristics for determining what is true, for example, that that twitter profile, who just commented on your tweet five seconds ago, that photo look pretty real. They got a vile. That seems pretty real that got ten thousand followers. We only have a few cues that we can use to discern what is real and Botz and defects and I'm sure, look into jeopardy three
actually overwhelm that human weakness. So we don't even know what's true, so I think that the main thing that we really want people to get is through a series of Miss Align incentives which will further get into techniques she has overwhelmed and undermines human weaknesses and many of the problems that were seen as separate or oxy the same as just one more thing on this analogy, it's kind of like you collectively, this digital fall out of addiction, teen, depression, suicides, polarization breakdown of truth. We think of this as a collective digital fall out or a kind of climate change of culture that much like the oil extractive economy that we have been living in extractive race for attention. There's only so much when it's, running out? We have to start fraction your attention by splitting your attention to multiple streams. I want you watching an Ipad and a phone and the television at the same time, because that lets me triple the size of the attention economy, but that extractive race for attention creeds, this global climate change of culture and much like climate change. It happens slowly, it happens gradually
It happens chronically it's not this sudden, immediate threat. It's this slow. Erosion of the social fabric, and that collectively we called and at present she human downgrading, but you can call it whatever you want. The point is that you know it if you think back to the climate change movement before there was climate changes as a cohesive understanding of emissions and linking due to climate change, we had some people working on polar bears. Working on the coral reefs, we had some people working on species loss in the Amazon and it was until we had an encompassing view of how all these problems get worse, that that we start to get changes were really hoping that this film can act as a kind of catalyst for a global response to this really destructive thing. That's happened to society, It's let me play devils advocate for a moment using some of the elements have already put into play because of you I going to impressively agree throughout this conversation on the nature of the problem, but channeling sceptic huh.
Here, and it is actually not that hard for me to empathize with a sceptic because- you point out. It really takes a fair amount of work to pry the scales from people's eyes. On this point and in the new for the problem, though, it really is everywhere to be seen its surprisingly elusive right idea of you reference something like you know, a spike in teen, depression and self harmony, suicide there's no one who's going to pretend not to care about that, and then a really the question of what the causality here and is it really a matter of exposure social media that is driving at an end, I think people are especially skeptical of that and that and as a discreet problem that I think most people would easily understand and be concerned about. But the more general problem for all of us is is harder to keep in view, and it's so when you
talk about things again, these are things you ve already conceded. In a way, solely attention has been a finite resource, always and everyone has always been competing for it, so he can play if you're gonna published a book. You are part of this race for people's attention of you. If you will, we're going to release something on the radio or television It was always a matter of trying to grab people's attention, as you say, would try to a right now with his podcast. So it's when concern. Through that lends its hard to see what is fundamentally new here. Right, yes, this is zero sum and then the question is good content or not. I think people want to say right. It's just. This is just a matter of interfacing in some way, with human desire and human curiosity and either you in successfully or not, and what's so
about really succeeding. You know just fundamentally succeeding in a way that yeah me, you can call it addiction, but really is just what people find captivating. What people want to do that? when they want to grant their attention to the next video. That is absolutely enthralling, but the house are different from leaving through the pages of a hard copy of it Eddie fair at me in the year nineteen eighty seven and feeling that you really want to read the next article rather than work or do whatever else you were you've. You thought you're going to do with your afternoon. So there's that and then there's this sense, that the phone good advertising is hidden solved and really really that the foundation of everything I talk about what's about about that, and so really it is a story of ads. In getting better, you know, I don't have to see ads for Tampax anymore right, I'm a guy. I go online and I see I see ads for things
probably want, were or nearly want, because I abandoned them in my Zappos shopping cart. I it what's wrong with that, and I think most people are stuck in that place likely just we have it a lot of work to bring them into the place of the conversation where the emergency becomes salient, and so yet, let's start their cash. You so much good, stuffed unpack your so the attention economy, obviously we always had it. We ve got television competing for it. Engine radio and we had evolutions of the attention economy before competition between books, competition between newspapers, competition between television, two more engaging television to more channels of television. So in many ways this isn't new, but I think what we really need to look at. What was mediating where that attention, whence you mediating that big word smartphones we check out. We took our smartphones, you know a hundred times or something like that per day. They are intimately woven into the fabric of our daily lives and ever more so because of the prison
but a dictionary. This addictive checking that we have been any moment of anxiety returned to our phone to look at it. So it's intimately woven into where the attention starting place will come from its also taken over our fundamental infrastructure for our basic verbs like. If I want to talk to you or talk to someone else, my phone has become the primary view, for just about for many many verbs in my life, whether its ordering food or speaking, to someone or figuring out what eight where to go in and map, we are increasingly reliant on this central note of our smartphone to be a router, we're all of our attention goes. So that's. The first part is intimately woven nature and the fact that its our social, it's part of the social infrastructure by which we rely on. We can't avoided and part of what makes technology today inhumane is that were reliant on infrastructure. That's not safe for contaminated, for many reasons that we will get into later, a second rate
That's different is the degree of asymmetry between let's say that newspaper editors journalist, who is writing that enticing article to get you to turn to the next page versus the level of asymmetry of when you Youtube video when you video and you think out his times, gonna watch one video and how to go back to work and you wake up from a trance. You know two hours later
and you say men what happened to me. I should have had more self control what that MRS is theirs. Literally. The Google Google's billions of dollars of supercomputing infrastructure on the other side of that slab of glass, in your hand, pointed at your brain, doing predictive analytics on what would be the perfect next video to keep you here and the same is true. Facebook, you think. Ok, I sort of installing financing for awhile back in a swipe up one more time, and then I'm done each time you swipe up with your finger. You know your activating twitter or a facebook or a tick tock supercomputer, that's doing predicted analytics, which has billions of data points on exactly the thing. Little keep you here and I think it's important to expand this metaphor in a way that you ve talked about on again your show before about the power increasing power and computational power of a I, when you think about a supercomputer pointed at your brain
trying to figure out. What's the perfect next thing to show you that's on one side of the screen on the other side of the screen is my prefrontal cortex, which has evolved millions of years ago and doing the best job. It can do goal articulation goal retention in memory and sort of staying on task, self discipline, etc. So who's gonna win in that battle. Well, good metaphor, for this is let's say you or I were to play Gary Kasparov at chess like why? I would you or I lose its because You know there. I am on the chess Board and I'm thinking. Ok, if I do this hill do this, but if I do this hildy this and I'm playing out a few new moves ahead in the chess board. But when Gary looks at that same chessboard, he's hang out, a million were moves ahead. Then I can't write and that's why Gary's gonna win and beat you and I every single time, but when Gary the human is playing chess against the best
Super computer in the world, no matter how many million moves ahead. That Gary can see. The super computer can see billions of moves ahead and when he beats Gary, who is the best human chess player of all time, he's beaten like the human brain, a chess cuz that would kind of the best one that we had. And so when you look at the degree of asymmetry that we now have when you're sitting there innocuous they saying. Ok, I'm sorry, watch one video and then I'm out. We have to recognise that we have an exponential degree of asymmetry and they know in our weakness, is better than we know ourselves to borrow also from a mutual friend you ve all Harare. So I guess I still think the nature The problem will seem debatable. Even at this point because it again you're you're talking about successfully gaming attention making Lena various forms of content, more captivating in a stick here. People are in time perhaps a day that didn't
No they're gonna give over to their devices, but so they were doing that with their televisions anyway. We know that these statistics, long before we had smartphones these statistics on watching television were appalling. I forget what they were there, something like the average television was on seven hours a day in the home. You know so that the picture was of people in a kind of AL. This Huxley, like you, know, distill bia, just plugged in to the boob too and being fed in a bad commercials and units and therefore being monetizing in some way. There's strikes peoples not fundamentally different from what's happening now me. Yes, it was. There was less to choose from, in other words, within the three different types of laundry detergent. And it was not a matter of a really fine grained manipulation of people's behaviour. But it was still if you wanted from the perspective of what seems optimal. It still had a key
director of propagandizing people in a word with certain messages that seem less than optimal, you I'm sure you could talk about teams. Just people in general have in in a body morphia around ideal presentations human beauty that work in unrealistic and what weather Photoshop was involved. At that point, or not I mean it was just good light. And good, make up and- and you know, selection effects that make it make people feel obliged to assume higher to irrational standards of beauty. All of these problems that we tend to reference and accommodation like this seemed present. I think the that strikes me as fundamentally new, and this is broad in Europe in the film by several people relates to the issue of misinformation and
and the silo enough information set, which really does strike me as genuinely news- and there are very few analogies here that I find especially arrest Maybe that one thing that journal near sad, he says in the film and here he said on this podcast a year or so ago which- I think frames it really well. Just imagine if Wikipedia would present you with information in a way that was completely dependent on your search, his ray you all the data on you that had been collected, showing your biases and preferences in the way, the ways in which your attention can be gained so that when each of us went to Wikipedia Not only was there no guarantee that would be seen precisely the same facts. Either there is a guarantee that we wouldn't be right. There were in this sort of a hot made it this shattered a now and we, This machine and the very machinery were using to deliver information,
the only what what is almost the only source of information Most people now is a machine. In that is designed to partially info people misinform people spread spirits. He theories and lies faster than facts spread outrage faster than disinterested nuanced analysis of stories it's like we have designed and apparatus whose purpose is to fragment, are worldview and to make it possible for us to fight. These are cognitive horizon so that if you and I start out in a different place, We can never converge in an era of the cycle the experiment that that's the thing that it strikes me that for which there is no analogue. In our previous moments of culture. Yet that's one percent right and I mean if we jump to the chase about what is most concerning. It is the breakdown of,
shared reality and the breakdown. Therefore, of our capacity to have conversations- and you know you said that if we don't have conversation, we have violence, and when you shatter the epistemic basis of how do we know what we know and I've been living literally in a different reality, a different Truman. Was Roger MAC them. He would say for the last ten years, and we have to keep in mind we're about ten years into this radicalization polarization process for each of us had been fed you know really a more extreme view of reality for for quite a long time that what I really want people to do isn't just to say as technology addictive. These small questions is really to realign the tape and to ask You know how has my mind been fundamentally warped and so just to go back to the point you made a second ago. You know. So what you know Youtube is is giving us information will first on the chestnut I mentioned of Norwegian a winner- they gonna win. Seventy per cent of the billion hours a day that people spend on Youtube is actually driven by the recommendation system. I, with the recommendation system, is
choosing for us. Just imagine a tv channel where you're not using seventy percent of the time and the question becomes, as you said, will what is the default programming of that channel? Is it you know Your Cronkite in some kind of semi, reliable communal sense making is our friend Eric would say, or is it actually giving us more and more strangers a of reality? So three examples of this several years ago, if you were a teenager and looked at a diet, video on Youtube, all the several the videos on the right hand, side would be thin, spoke Anorexia videos, because those things were better at keeping people's attention If you looked at, you know that nine eleven videos it would look at it would give you Alex Jones in four words, nine eleven conspiracy theories, Youtube recommended Alex Jones conspiracy theories, fifteen billion times in the right hand, side bar which is more than the combined traffic of New York Times Fox NEWS and this and be seen guardian, etc combined. So the scale of what has actually transpired here
is is so enormous that I think it's really hard people get their head around, because also each of us only see our own Truman shows that the fact that I am saying is that you might say: well, I've never seen it I think that your interactivity or some enough my say, I've never seen those conspiracy theories. It's because it fed you some different rabbit hole in a key item: Chaz Low, whose Thee Youtube recommendations engineer in the film. About in nervy. We did at him and on our podcast how he the algorithm found out tat. He liked seeing these videos of plain landings and it's weird addictive corner of Youtube or people like to see plain landings or the example of flat earth conspiracy theories, which are recommended hundreds of millions of times, and you know because we ve been doing this work samper such a long time. No talk to so many people. You don't hear from teachers parents who say suddenly all these kids are coming into my classroom in their saying the Holocaust didn't happen or they're saying the earth is flat ass. It were they getting his ideas, especially in a time of corona virus. Were parents are forced to set their kids in front of the new television, the new digital past fire, which is really just Youtube? You know their basically
the whims of whatever that automated system is showing them and, of course, the reason economically widest happened. Because the only way that you can broadcast to three billion people in every language is you, don't pay any human editors right. You you take out all of those expensive people who sat at the you know your times or Washington, Post Editorial Department or PBS Editorial Department, saying what's good for kids in terms of Saturday morning or Sesame Street, and you say Let's have a machine decide what's good for people, and the machine cannot know the difference between what will watch forces. What what what we actually really want in the easiest exam
there is, if I'm driving down the freeway on the five in LA and according to Youtube, if my eyes go off to the side- and I see a car crash and everybody's eyes go to the side, dude looks the car crash in the world must really want car crashes, and next thing you know, there's a self reinforcing feedback, loop of they're feeding us more car crashes into keep. Looking at the car crashes, they feed us more and more. That's exactly what's happened over the last ten years with conspiracy theories and one of the best predictors of whether you will believe in a new conspiracy is whether you already believe in one and Youtube and Facebook have never made that easier than to sort of open the doorways into a more paranoid style of thinking, and just one last thing before hitting the fact is. I think this is not to vilify
Scarcely thinking in some conspiracies are real or some notions of you know what Epstein did with in running a child sex ring is all real so, but we need a more nuanced way to see this, because, when you are put into a surround sound rabbit hall, where everything is a conspiracy theory, everything that's ever happen to the last fifty years is part of some master plan and is actually the secret cabal that controls everything and bill gates and five Jean conspiring krona virus. This is where the fingers off the rails, and I think this really became apparent to people once they were stuck at home. Where you're not actually going out into the world you're not talking to his many neighbours and so the primary meaning making incense making system that we are using to navigate reality are these social media products, and I think that is exacerbated the kind of craziness we have seen over the last six months. Yeah. Why you're really talking about that? The formation of cults
and you thought about lot about cults, and what we have here is a kind of cult factory, Oreo, a cult industrial complex that we have built inadvertently and yet what the inadvertence is is really interesting because it it does. It relates directly to the business model as this, because we have decided that the only way to pay for the internet or the primary way to pay for the internet is with ads and when will get into than the mechanics of this. That is the thing that his dick hated? Everything else were talking about, and it's really is incredible to think about, because what we have created a system where indisputable, some, the smartest people on earth amid this is really the worry, are some of our brightest mines are using the most powerful technology we ve ever built not to cure cancer.
Or mitigate climate change or respond to a very real and pressing problem like an emerging pandemic, their spending their time try. To get better at gaming human attention more effectively to sell random products, and even random conspiracy theories. Rather in fact there when all of this not me only as a emotive, failing to address other real problems like Mitigating climate change are responding to a pandemic. The consequences of what they're doing is making it harder to respond to those real problems, We have a climate change, an panda eggs, are now impossible to talk about as a result of what happened. Social media, and this is this- is a direct result of how social media is being paid for or is it how it has decided to make money? And, as you say, it's making
it impossible for us to understand one another, because people are not seeing the same. Things may like, on a daily basis, have this experience of looking at people out world he and on my own social media feed, or he just just reading news accounts of what somebody is into a military. Somebody is into queuing on right, and this call is not too strong a word. This cult of indeterminate size, but massively wealth. Grab at this point for people who believe that not only is child sexual abuse, a real problem are there in the world is more or less everyone believes, but believe it they're arm uncountable numbers of high profile, well connected people You know from the questions on down who are part of a cannibalistic cult of child sexual slavery. You know where they extracting the bodily
since, as of children so as to prolong their lives right? And it is just a tis? Craziest crazy gets his oh. So when I as someone who's outside this information stream view this behaviour, people look frankly insane to me right, but in some of these people have to be crazy right. This is good has to be acting like a bug, light for four crazy people LISA of some sort, but most of the people are presumably normal people who are just drinking from a fire hose of misinformation and indifferent him. Nation, from the information I'm scene, and so it there. Their behaviors is actually inexplicable to me and there so many versions of this. Now I don't think it's too much to say that we were driving ourselves crazy. We are creating a culture that is not compatible with basic sanity and we were amplifying incommensurable delusions.
We were all at once and we ve created a a system where true information, Rina, real facts and in a valid skeptical analysis of what's going on, isn't up to the task of dampening down the spread of lies and me, be there's some other variable here that accounts for it. But it's amazing to me how much of this is born of simply the choice over a business model? Well, I think this is to me the most important backed up what the thumb hopefully will do is right now we're living in the shattered prism of a shared reality. Where were each trapped in a separate, shard and You said when you look over it, someone else and say how can enable leave those crazy things. How can they be so stupid? Aren't they seeing the same end nation that I'm seeing and the answer. Is there not seeing the same information? that you're seeing bathed in living, literally in a completely different feat of informers and then you have and that's actually
many other, I think psychological, that's much vulnerability. But we did not evolve to assume that every person you would see physically around you would side of their own mind, be actually living in a completely different virtual reality than the one that you live, so nothing from an evolutionary perspective. Would enable us to have empathy with the fact that each of us have little virtual reality in our own minds and that each of them could be so dramatically, not just a little bit so dramatically different, because another aspect dimension. We brought up colts at the beginning of what you said was the power of group think and the power of an echo member, where in many of what's going many of the things that are going on in conspiracy theory groups on Facebook, I mean the plan. Dennett video spread actually through a massive network of cuban on groups, has actually been a capturing of the new spirituality and sort of than psychedelic sir me too. The into the Cuban on world interestingly That's what he's been amino acid. That's doesnt seven
a good and listen to an already mad world. But I think if we zoom out it's like the question is: who is in control of human history right now human beings authoring our own choices or by the fact that we ve seated the information that feeds into three billion people's brains meant that we have actually seated control to machines because the machines control the information at all all three billion of us are, are getting its become the primary way. Do we make sense of the world and to jump ahead of mind? Read some of the sceptics out. There's some people single hold on a second weren't. There filter bubble rules and narrow, partisan, ECHO chambers, with Fox NEWS and Emerson, B C and people sticking with those channels. Yes, that's true, but I would ask people to question: where are the editorial departments of those television channels getting there from what they're just living on twitter and twitters algorithms. Recommending again that same partisan, ECHO chamber back to you. If you follow as brilliant, you had renewed arrest on your podcast, his dear friend
I need an colleague talking about how you know radicalization spreads on on social media, and she worked back in the state Department in twenty fifteen, where they noticed that if you followed one ISIS terrorists on on Twitter, the suggested user system with the elders suggested people you might want to follow, and it gives you ten more possessed ices terrorists for you to follow. Likewise, if you were a new Mamma, she was several years ago. You join some new mom groups, specifically groups for like making your own be food kind of a do it yourself organic moms movement, while their facebooks algorithms, had befallen, what are others suggested groups we might show for you that tend to correlate with users in a small group that keeps people really engage in one of the top recommendations was the anti vaccine can spare. See their groups, and when you join one of those it says, will those groups tend to be also in these cuban on groups and come trails groups and the five earth groups? And so you see very quickly how these any little changes, as they say in German, says in the beginning of the fun you know the business model of just changing it.
Least and identity, just one percent of choosing the entire world. One percent is a lot like climate, quite literally right, where you only have to change the temperature, a tiny bit and choose the basis of what people are believing and it changes the rest of reality because, as you from confirmation by us? When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail in technology laying the foundation of hammers that are looking for specific kinds of nails, once you see the world in a paranoid conspiratorial lens you're, seeing your looking for evidence that confirms that belief and that's happening on all sides and is really a thing that happened to all of us. This is why my biggest hope, really in the global impact of the film This is not a marketing push. It's really a social impact Bush like I genuinely concerned that may be no other way to put humpty dumpty back together again, then, to show the world that we have come that we need a new shared reality about that breakdown of our shared reality. There many aspects to the ad model and I think people can get
that doesn't make much work to convince people, as as with I hope, we have begun to hear that the shattering of shared Ray Reality is a problem as at mom, a political problem, whether its AP social problem for you, you're out in the world or in your primary relationships, to see the kind of hyper partisanship we see now and they and they just inability to converge on account of basic facts that could mitigate that partisanship. I think people feel that that is a kind of assault on democracy and then, when you add the peace that bad actors like in the Russians, the Chinese were, anyone can decide to deliberately game that system in the knowledge that in Russia is actively spreading, mean a black lives matter, information and pseudo information, so as to heighten the anguish,
an end polarization on on that topic in America and that just the fact that we built the tools by which they can do that, and they can do it surreptitiously right. We don't see who has seen these adds right. You you don't see the the fifty thousand people who were who were targeted in specific state for a specific reason that is new and sinister, and I think people can understand that. But when you're we're talking about the problem with sharing and for me Asian or using our information in these ways, and- and I think we should get clear about- what's happening here, because it that this is a distinction. Several people making in the film is not that these platforms seller our day right, they don't really seller data. They gather the data, the analyzed, the data and what they sell are more and more accurate predictions of our behaviour to advertisers right and the ability to end it I gets more refined, you really have ay. As close as we,
ever come to advertising being a kind of sure thing right where it really You know that really works and and even their p. I think most people won't necessarily care about that, because if you tell them Listen you that a thing you really thought you wanted and went out and bought, you are played by the company. The company placed an ad with Facebook and Facebook delivered it to you, because you are the perfect target of that add I think the person can, at the end of the day on all of that process and say and just subsume it with their satisfaction at having. Bought the thing they they now actually want. Relax. Oh yeah, I actually, but I want wanted a new prayers right and minutes. There was time I needed a new car likely there. Some weathers confabulate warrior, not there some way in which they they don't necessarily field.
Violated, and I think one having people think they care about privacy. But we don't really seem to care about privacy all that much more. We care about convenience and care about money in it at bottom. Nobody wants to pay for these things. No one wants to pay for Facebook. They want to pay for twitter, didn't want to pay for Most of what happens on the internet and they're. Happy too in rolled in this psychological experiment, so that they don't have to for anything and Anne S, and the dysfunction of all of that is what we're trying to get it cross here. But it's I'm always amazed that it's you focus on it and parts of this monstrosity begin to disappear in Osaka again very hard to keep. What is wrong with this in view, every moment all at once, and so maybe for the militias focus on information, and privacy and and the ad model and an just how we should think about it. But when we talk about the
advertising model. You know people tend to think about the good faith uses like you're talking about a previous or a pair of shoes. What this, MRS, the GEO, political world or three information warfare that is happening right now, because your line, I say often is a wall. We ve been obsessed with protecting our physical boy, As a country, we left the digital border wide, open and meeting. If Russia, China tried to fly missile or bomber plain into the United States, they blast it out of the sky by the Pentagon, but when they try to fly in, nation bomb into the United States in our virtual infrastructure of Facebook. There met by a white gloves that says yes, exactly which zip code in which African American Sub District would you like to target and that that is the core problem. We are completely unprotected when it comes to the virtual infrastructure. So if you go to the roads in the air and at the hotel, if it till telephone lines that we we he's here in this country there completely aircraft from you know Russia or China.
When most of the activity happening in our country happens in a virtual digital online environment in those markets since, as software is eating the world, meaning software in the digital world are consuming more and more of the physical world the physical ways that we used to get round the physical conversations we used to have them Digital environment is basically the big five tech companies. It's all happening through the landscape of Youtube, Tik Tok Facebook etc, and you know how it is an empire fall. You know you use them. Our than empire against itself after World war, two We had all these nukes in the big powers couldn't do conventional worse with each other, so they had to use subtler methods possible, deniability, proxy wars, you'd be waging economic warfare. Diplomatic work air, but if you're Russia or ran or Turkey,
and you don't want to see the Eu S in a position of global dominance, would you do know afford facing attack on the country with all the nukes? Obviously not, but would you take the already existing tensions of that country and turn the enemy against himself? That's what Sun Tzu would say to do and that's what chinese military strategy would say to do, and Facebook just makes that a trillion times easier. So you know if I was China, one extreme right, an extreme left groups to proliferate and fight each other, and you know we know that this is basically happening in this- has been stoking up groups on all sides, you know I can go into your country and create an army of Botz that look justice. Indistinguishable from regular people, China and running Tiktok, and I can know, manipulate the political discourse in your country with I have three hundred million Americans. You know my service may even be bigger than that from incorrectly, so I think, no, the advertising model isn't just that. It's enables these good faith using people have to recognise the amount of manipulated and deceptive activities. Better off
like you said untraceable, mean the fact that I'm saying all this to you in the listeners out there with sound like a conspiracy theory until you know the researchers who are tracking you things, because if you're, you know, if you're just looking at your own- feed I'm living in California, I'm not actually part of a target group. So I dont really see these things and its. The invisible to me anybody who is so again our psychological vulnerabilities. Here technology is not allowing us to empathize with people who are closest to being Harare harmed by these systems. Yoke aside, I think people can get the central fear here, which is that it seems at best difficult, more likely impossible to run a healthy democracy on bad information, and if we can do it for a few years, we probably can't do it for a century. Something has to change if we can't be feeding everyone lies or half truths differently.
Eyes, indifferent, half truths, all at once, twenty four hours a day year after year and hope to have a healthy society rights. That's a discernible piece of this prize. From that. I think. Firstly, everyone will understand, and Then, when you add the cut the emotional valence of all these lives and half truths, people get that there's a problem, amplifying outrage Raymond. The fact that the thing that is most captivating to us is the feeling of Group outrage pointed out word toward the our for her we have contempt growing into hatred, that's the place. We are so much of the time social media that runs the machine. The gears of this machinery faster than any other emotion,
and whatever the effect, if that changes, if, if it turns out that know, sheer sheer terror is better than outrage, will then The algorithm will find that and the Apple fine terror, but the thing that you have to be sure of is that is contained in the very word in Oda. Dispassionate. Take on current events is, never going to be the thing that gets this. This machinery running hottest strain and say I think people can get there. But when we talk about possible remedies for this problem, then I really think it is worth it. Has always if you'd like to continue, was made to this podcast you'll need to subscribe. Sam Aristotle, work, you'll, get access to all full length, episodes. Has passed and two other subscriber only content, including bonus episodes in a maze.
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Transcript generated on 2020-09-25.