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Technology Thoughts

The Social Dilemma: An anti-capitalist propaganda piece

The first thing you need to know is the film, “The Social Dilemma” is NOT a documentary. It is a dramatized film with an agenda that is against a free an open Internet and is against capitalism. It blames the big tech companies for all the social ills of today when in reality it is public education over the last 30 years that has primed the pump to confuse and polarize people.

The film talks about AI and machine learning as if they are magic potions that can make people do what the tech companies want them to do. This is the biggest bunch of crap I’ve ever heard. Anyone that uses Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, or any other service by a tech company where the service is free receives that service because the company sells advertising. The most truthful part of the film is when they accurately inform that users of the free services are themselves the product being sold. The service they use is a by-product of the company’s ability to sell ads. It’s how they stay in business.

Let’s consider these ads. I’m a user of Gmail, Instagram, Facebook (in a limited sense), and Twitter. I use each service for different reasons. I know each service sends me ads. How is that different from broadcast television or radio? Those services also feed me ads and in exchange they provide me entertainment or information programs that I like to watch. The only difference is that the tech companies are supposed to send me targeted advertising for things they know I would want to buy.

How are they supposed to know what I want? Through “big data.” Supposedly all the tech companies know more about me than maybe I know myself. They should know that I’m writing this review of the crappy film that is targeting them for regulation and taxation. I don’t know what ads I’ll get that reflect that. Back to my point. If they have so much data about me and are supposed to know how to manipulate me to buy what they are selling why are the ads so bad?

Why is it that YouTube’s recommendation engine only serves up videos of the exact same content, many times videos that I’ve already watched, instead of being smart and looking at the totality of what I watch and try to figure out new content that might catch my eye. They’re horrible at it. Most of the time I find new content through human recommendation on videos, news programs, podcasts, or articles I read rather than anything from the YouTube algorithm.

Look at Amazon. They are still constantly telling me to buy something I just finished ordering. Why would I want to buy it again when I literally just placed the order. How in the world is that effective?

Facebook and Instagram push ads that I don’t even remember. I see the ads on Instagram but they are clearly marked “sponsored” and are quite easy to ignore. On Facebook my brain automatically filters out the ads because I don’t recall seeing them at all. The only things I recall Facebook pushing at me is propaganda surrounding voting. I wish they’d stop telling me to register to vote. Doesn’t their advanced AI know that I’m already registered?

The film tries to scare you into thinking people are being easily manipulated by AI, machine learning, and advertising algorithms when in my opinion the problem is the education system and how it no longer teaches kids how to read, write, do math, and critically think about things. Instead they are propaganda factories to get young people not old enough to decide much of anything for themselves to become activists in some social utopian cause. When they get older and find out the world doesn’t work as they were taught there is a cognitive dissonance that takes place and they lash out like children.

Other than being anti-capitalist and pro government regulation of the Internet I’m not sure what else this film is trying to accomplish. It certainly didn’t enlighten me on the evils of social media. Maybe I’m not as susceptible as the rest of you because I’m anti-social by nature? Who knows.

In any case, that film is junk. Don’t watch it.