‘Look about you,’ social media today is the ‘worst case scenario’: Neal Stephenson

In a recent podcast interview with author Neal Stephenson, host Tyler Cowen asks about the how social media is working out for society. –

Stepheson says we’re “actually living through the worst-case scenario right now, so look about you, and that’s what we’ve got.”

Given Stephenson’s interest in history, information and systems, his comments are worth considering.

Neal Stephenson (CC)

For social media, Stephenson said, “The problem seems to be the fact that it’s algorithmically driven, and that there are not humans in the loop making decisions, making editorial, sort of curatorial decisions about what is going to be disseminated on those networks.

“As such, it’s very easy for people who are acting in bad faith to game that system and produce whatever kind of depiction of reality best suits them. Sometimes that may be something that drives people in a particular direction politically, but there’s also just a completely nihilistic, let-it-all-burn kind of approach that some of these actors are taking, which is just to destroy people’s faith in any kind of information and create a kind of gridlock in which nobody can agree on anything.”

Source: Neal Stephenson on Depictions of Reality

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