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Revision as of 22:43, 22 January 2024 by Fractalguy (talk | contribs)
Endless Doom Scrolling is Not Good For You

Promotion of content via social media algorithms is one of the most important issues impacting our society. We are all AI chatbots that take in a stream of information from our life experiences, pass it through a massive neural net, and spew it back out one word after the next, often making poetic and profound sense. But just as AI models fed on social media quickly turn problematic, so do our own brains.

Free Speech is Not Free Promotion

Freedom of Speech is not curtailed when content is filtered via algorithm. There is no right to have free advertising for your content, just as there is no legal right for any platform to host that content. But platforms have often been built by people with free speech ideals, and don't want to take on the politically sensitive and costly task of moderation. They'll remove the porn and some of the death threats, but lies, racism, misogyny, and general assholery remain.

And it makes sense that you just allow people to say and post whatever they want, and let them view whatever content they want, and to design a promotion algorithm to give people more of whatever it is they want. We're just giving the people what they want, right? Unfortunately, "what you want" is being determined by whatever content keeps you on the app the longest--the most addictive content.

And just like when you give a patient opioids they often realize that they want more opioids, when you give people a newsfeed full of outrage they likewise get hooked. In both cases if you went back in time and showed that person where the addiction would ultimately lead, they would never choose to go down that road.

Emotional Promotion

If algorithms based on AI models trained to maximize time-on-app are causing the downfall of modern society, could it be possible to offer alternative algorithms based on more wholesome goals? Is it possible to train an AI to generate a feed that maximizes the happiness of the user?

While the shareholders of dominant platforms may not like the idea of using their algorithms for anything but profit maximization, there is no reason that new platforms couldn't challenge them by offering people love instead of outrage.

You could even tune the algorithm to generate different desired emotional states like a musical playlist. Pick the emotion you want to feed and let the algorithm serve you. Choose your happy algorithm and get all the pictures of friends, animals doing adorable things, uplifting news articles, inspirational messages, etc. The sad algorithm can give you all the tragic news stories, death notices, depression rants, and GoFundMe campaigns for medical bills. Or pick your angry algorithm if you want all the outrage you are currently getting, but at least you do so willingly and knowing what it is doing to you.

Divergent Promotion

Different segments of society have vastly different feeds based primarily on their political views. This creates feedback loops that cause the algorithms to promote radically different content to different people, helping to create information bubbles.

Music Promotion

The algorithm has made some songs very big.