Bot Pollution

A CNN Money report by Ivana Kottasova last week noted that Oxford university researchers determined that 20-30% of all tweets about Clinton and Trump are actually generated by bots. Thanks to Jason Campbell for forwarding this article. What is interesting about this machine-turbocharging of the automation echo chamber is the notion that our discourse may become increasingly polluted by algorithms that are not distinguishable from personally held human opinions. Whilst this has been true from time immemorial for the famous and the rich, their publicists and writers are a relatively small fraction of societal discourse. But automation replicates far more quickly, and I can easily imagine a day when the majority of discourse in all directions is automated, with us humans just scratching the surface. Not a pretty site, as the owners of the messaging will be concentrated in the hands of the bot-makers. This is just like the concentration of wealth we see, but instead of concentrating wealth, we concentrate the generation of opinions and thought leadership.

 

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