British troops burned down the U.S. Capitol in 1814. In reflecting on the events of January 6, 2021 and the subsequent attack on the Capitol, the role of another foreign, albeit non-human, influence – that is, artificial intelligence (AI) – was clear.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for what happened at the Capitol this month and we’ll be dealing with the situation for decades.
Let there be no doubt. Individuals are ultimately responsible for their own words and actions.
Today, sophisticated algorithms (often AI-optimized) drive digital media distribution and advertising with limited human intervention.
This has created a complex, closed system where financial incentives, including free attention and ad revenue, align for those in politics and media to optimize for outrage.
According to Facebook’s internal data, 64% of users who join an extremist Facebook Group do so at the platform’s recommendation.
Unwittingly, thousands (perhaps millions) of individuals are now wrapped up in a conspiracy theory distributed algorithmically on social media.
This led to a clear business case for media figures and outlets to generate more content to reinforce false beliefs. And many eagerly obliged.
Politicians, for the most part, simply reflect back what they think their supporters want to hear. As former House Speaker John Boehner often remarked, a leader without any followers is just a guy taking a walk.
In other words, elected officials and media allies are responding to the demand generated by algorithms.