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Living in the Matrix – AI 2021

The Persuasive Powers of the Algorithm

Have you ever thought why it has become so difficult to have a conversation (concerning political differences or indeed any differences) nowadays? Has it always been this way? Fifteen years ago, I do not remember the big issues of the day triggering such emotion. Nowadays, trenchant positioning is taken on the trivial. Big issues are amalgamated with the frivolous. Critical thinking skills appears absent amongst swathes of the population and emotion is driving decision making. Could it be that the outcomes, being confusion and cynicism is a method of population control? The recipe to enable these outcomes being the algorithm.

Antisocial Media

Facebook’s ever realising ambition to connect the earth appears on one level to cause populations to seethe with visceral emotional responses. Facebook has connected 2 billion of us! It seems that bringing people together may have reminded us why we failed to stay in touch with our school chums in the first place!

Social networks have torn the world apart like an invisible invasive species, leaving behind a terrible project of costly items: division, ruined relationships, and dependence. Even though I have not paid a dime, I want my old life back. The new one just ain’t worth the admission fee.

No-one can say that Facebook is a benign tool. It is not designed to quietly connect us for apparent altruistic reasons. The ‘it’ needs to keep us coming back with its parasitic zeal, so that it can sell advertising to me and you, by any means necessary.

Its means, those of its tentacle algorithms do not have a conscience, but they so have a function, and that is to ensure that human beings by habit regularly return to the site to be subject of advertisers. Lie down and think of Mark Zuckerberg! There is no way to prevent marketing on Facebook, and by using its platform we agree that we are fair game.

But none of us signed up to divided countries, divided societies, divided families, and scorched friendships. Any casual browsing of the comments and replies to posts on Facebook and you can quickly find the themes of position taking, slurs and insults openly traded amongst users. Often, it is sport to watch human beings react and passionately engage in automated Facebook Bot software as if they were conversing with a real person.

The 19th Century never happened

In the 18th Century paid propagandists and orators controlled the narrative. [1] Nowadays, it is families with the deepest pockets who decide what we argue about.[2]

Politicians lured to the winning effects of the Facebook algorithm are willing to pay handsomely for it. Shameless mind orientation of the masses for cash. The elected beneficiaries of the FB algorithm are the least likely to effect real change. Why would they? They have paid for a service that has sustains them in power.

Modern political campaigns are powered, centrally, employing enormous volumes of voter data which are run through algorithmic models and used to micro target messages to the most sought after and persuadable voters.

The Victorian era introduced standards of public probity and integrity. People should go into to politics to serve and not to exploit the opportunities in government for private gain. It is as if the political cycle concerning ethics has come full circle.

The People v the Algorithm

Technology advances at a pace human beings have no chance of matching. Humans do not become super humans over decades or even millennia. Nope, we evolve slowly as with nature, whom we are one. Clearly human beings are exceptional, and we respect our friends and partners in the natural world.

The advent of technology has led to an erosion and a reversion of ethical standards – indeed technology is being used to sustain anti-democratic states and to erode democracy in others. (China, Russia).

And the winner is – the Algorithm! A nice little earner, that is likely to be doing good business with its body corporate for a time to come. The host, us, are unaware of what this little recipe is doing to us rather than for us.

The Carlsberg effect!

Selling misinformation works! It reaps croesan rewards for those willing to go to those parts others with a conscience would never consider reaching. Knowing that the game is pegged in their favour because they have access to the powerful media owners and media channels. Facebook is pro-active in its influence on putting the biggest money paying funders into power and it sure is. Mayanmar, Honduras, the Philippines, the United Stated, the United Kingdom for starters.

Time to get real!

However, for whatever reason, human nature appears content with the status quo. If it were not, Facebook would be just another failed business. Instead, it is one of the most successful companies the world has ever known.

[1] PETER OBORNE, The Assault on Truth, Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Barbarism, (First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2021) [2] CHRISTOPHER LEONARD, KOCHLAND, The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America, (First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2019)

General Law Update by Michael Mulholland, Partner at Aria Grace Law


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