people, not algorithms

Can an algorithm defeat an algorithm? One group of European researchers think it can be done. I have my doubts

“The approach involves assigning numerical values to both social media content and users. The values represent a position on an ideological spectrum, for example far left or far right. These numbers are used to calculate a diversity exposure score for each user. Essentially, the algorithm is identifying social media users who would share content that would lead to the maximum spread of a broad variety of news and information perspectives.

Then, diverse content is presented to a select group of people with a given diversity score who are most likely to help the content propagate across the social media network—thus maximizing the diversity scores of all users.” —IEEE 2021-01-21

I believe that any system that can be gamed, will be gamed. Adding another algorithmic layer on platforms designed to manipulate human behaviour will likely result in a continuing game of whack-a-mole, like search engine optimization (SEO). Humans are not machines, and machines (including software) are not humans.

We need to have structures in place that support pro-social behaviours. Education is part of the solution but so are reward systems and regulatory checks and balances. Technology may influence human behaviour but only the human collective can advance civilization. We need to get smarter at living in a digitally networked era.

  1. Confront the post-truth machines
  2. Understand and accept our natural stupidity
  3. Create trusted spaces for people to cooperate
  4. Engage in active sensemaking
  5. Connect > Challenge > Co-create
connect challenge cocreate

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