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Even though Silicon Valley types have a sanitized name for this phase, “engagement,” we fear it enough to keep our own children away from it. Many of the Silicon Valley kids I know attend Waldorf schools, which generally forbid electronics.
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The prime directive to be engaging reinforces itself, and no one even notices that negative emotions are being amplified more than positive ones. Engagement is not meant to serve any particular purpose other than its own enhancement, and yet the result is an unnatural global amplification of the “easy” emotions, which happen to be the negative ones.
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Social media is biased, not to the Left or the Right, but downward. The relative ease of using negative emotions for the purposes of addiction and manipulation makes it relatively easier to achieve undignified results. An unfortunate combination of biology and math favors degradation of the human world. Information warfare units sway elections, hate groups recruit, and nihilists get amazing bang for the buck when they try to bring society down.
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The unfortunate result is that once an app starts to work, everyone is stuck with it. It’s hard to quit a particular social network and go to a different one, because everyone you know is already on the first one. It’s effectively impossible for everyone in a society to back up all their data, move simultaneously, and restore their memories at the same time. Effects of this kind are called network effects or lock-ins. They’re hard to avoid on digital networks.
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One of the main reasons to delete your social media accounts is that there isn’t a real choice to move to different social media accounts. Quitting entirely is the only option for change. If you don’t quit, you are not creating the space in which Silicon Valley can act to improve itself.
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While scientists sometimes dive in to try to glean insights, for the most part the process takes place in darkness, running on automatic; it’s a new kind of sinister shadow cosmos.
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If someone isn’t paying a BUMMER platform in cash, then they must turn themselves into data-fuel for that platform in order to not be overwhelmed by it. When Facebook emphasized “news” in its feed, the entire world of journalism had to reformulate itself to BUMMER standards.
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As a Twitter addict, Trump has changed. He displays the snowflake pattern and sometimes loses control. He is not acting like the most powerful person in the world, because his addiction is more powerful. Whatever else he might be, whatever kind of victimizer, he is also a victim.
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You know the adage that you should choose a partner on the basis of who you become when you’re around the person?
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We in Silicon Valley like to watch the ants dig harder into their dirt. They send us money as we watch.
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In the case of internet services, there was a choice from the start. In fact, the very first design for a digital network, dating to Ted Nelson’s work as a student in the 1960s, presumed that people would pay and be paid in tiny increments for goodies on a digital network.
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But that idea was pounded into virtual oblivion—albeit with the best of intentions—by the free-software movement.
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Everyone knew that software would eventually become more important than law, so the prospect of a world running on hidden code was dark and creepy. Therefore, the transparency that must underlie democracy, literacy, and decency was thought to be incompatible with any business model but free.
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universe we must build if we are to survive—there will be both the convenience of an app like Uber and a sustainable social and economic fabric in which a lot of people build security with dignity.
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“Data as Labor.”
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But then companies like Netflix and HBO convinced people to pay a monthly fee, and the result is what is often called “peak TV.” Why couldn’t there also be an era of paid “peak social media” and “peak search”?
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I won’t have an account on Facebook, Google, or Twitter until I can pay for it—and I unambiguously own and set the price for using my data, and it’s easy and normal to earn money if my data is valuable. I might have to wait a while, but it’ll be worth it.
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The gaming world is wonderful in a lot of ways, but it really isn’t meeting its potential. Gaming should be turning into the new way we learn and talk about complicated issues. That’s happening to a small extent, but the biggest productions tend to target the same demographic over and over again. You’ve got guns, you’re traversing terrain, and you’re shooting at something. Over and over.
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The movement to destroy critics of the gaming world was called “Gamergate.” It’s impossible to talk to anyone who supports it, because they live in an alternate universe of conspiracy theories and dense jungles of stupid arguments fueled by the pettiest of illusions, bursting with insecure rage. Gamergate became a feeder and model for the
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Black Twitter is a great example. It’s a distinct medium and literature onto itself. Black Twitter is marvelously inventive and expressive. And virtuosic. Black Twitter has run rings around Trump, such as after the “NFL kneeling scandal.” Meanwhile, the stuff outside of a Twitter user’s frame of awareness is intensely favored to continue to subsume Black Twitter and make it powerless.
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The first argument proposed that BUMMER users are trapped in addictive behavior-modification apparatuses. This is the metaphor that some of the founders of BUMMER have chosen to frame their regrets, and the pieces fall in place within that framing. It is useful. But is it adequate? Behavior-modification cages can only manipulate one creature at a time, but when the whole society is being manipulated in a coordinated way, we must seek a grander explanatory framework. There aren’t many choices. The clearest one is probably religion.
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Why not conceive of people as naturally evolved machines, but machines nonetheless? People could then be programmed to behave well, and the human project could flourish. Behaviorists, Communists, and now Silicon Valley social engineers have all tried to achieve that end.
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You might launch an infectious meme about a political figure, and you might be making a great point, but in the larger picture, you are reinforcing the idea that virality is truth. Your point will be undone by whatever other point is more viral. That is by design. The architects of BUMMER were meme believers.
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Religions at their best address the deepest, most important, and most tender questions that we can’t approach scientifically, like the ultimate purpose of life, why existence exists, what consciousness is, what death is, and the nature of meaning.
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One of the reasons that BUMMER works the way it does is that the engineers working at BUMMER companies often believe that their top priority among top priorities isn’t serving present-day humans, but building the artificial intelligences that will inherit the earth.
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It’s completely normal to hear an executive from one of the biggest companies in the world talk about the possibility of a coming singularity, when the AIs will take over. The singularity is the BUMMER religion’s answer to the evangelical Christian Rapture.
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I hope this statement will come off as rather generic and uncontroversial, though hoping doesn’t make things so. I am conscious. I have faith that you are also conscious. We each experience. It’s a marvel.
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This book doesn’t address problems related to family dynamics, to untenable pressures placed on young people, especially young women (please read Sherry Turkle on those topics),
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You can still get news online: Read news websites directly (instead of getting news through personalized feeds), especially sites that hire investigative reporters. Get a feel for the editorial voice of each site, which is only available when you go direct. Subscribe to great news sites! Read three a day and you’ll be better informed than social media users, and in less time. Consider using browser extensions that block the comments.
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You can even still watch YouTube videos, for now at least, without a Google account. Watching without an account and with some privacy plugins will give you access to a much less manipulative experience. Sounds like work, right?
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But no matter how much effort you put in, you’ll probably still save time overall by taking control of your own life. You’ll be amazed to discover how much of your time was taken up before by BUMMER schemes.
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Taking charge of your own information life
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scooper for BUMMER. Facebook has faced considerable legal blowback for using WhatsApp data that