We live in an era of artificial intelligence. Although it didn’t get much media attention for this reason, the Ashley Madison chatbot scandal actually satisfied the parameters of a Turing Test. The vulnerability that real, live people might have to wasting their days sexting to pre-programmed robots might not have been something that Alan Turing had considered however. Ashley Madison has been a couple years ago, and with the way technology advances in leaps and bounds, it’s not hard to conceive that these chatbots have now infiltrated more common social media. For that reason, Facebook could probably more appropriately change its name to ‘Facebook and bots.’
I’m starting to believe that about half my interactions on Facebook are with bots rather than human beings. Some of the things people say and do are just beyond the level of credibility (voting for Donald Trump falls into this category). For example, recently I posted a complaint because Microsoft decided to update my computer without asking me, thus putting it out of commission for about 3 hours. I posted my irritation about this tendency expecting to get some “I feel your pain” type responses. However, what I got were strange defenses of Microsoft:
Ok, so they weren’t that obvious, more along the lines of:
“In my experience the Microsoft update capacity has worked perfectly. The computer shuts down momentarily, and when functionality is restored the machine is faster and more efficient thus lending to my workday productivity.”
Look…no human being thinks that. The Microsoft updates happen at random and without asking permission. For me, this is probably because I deny the machine permission about 20 times and I think it gets fed up and just does the update without asking me. But I seriously don’t believe that there are people who have NEVER had a Microsoft update happen at an inconvenient time.
So, what I think is going on, is that a lot of Facebook profiles are just bots owned by Microsoft that sit there dormant until they catch somebody complaining on their wall about Microsoft. Then…they chirp in with a pre-programmed response set to establish a BS narrative about how great Microsoft is that nobody really thinks.
That sounds pretty crazy, but what do you think it means when people talk about “facebook and bots” all the time? Every time Trump tweets something there is an article about how 500,000 “Russian bots” retweet the story. I’ve even seen news items about stock footage photos that were altered and used to create profiles for fake individuals that could then be used to spout nonsense. You’d see more of these stories if the bots weren’t out there downvoting them all the time.
What’s the result?
Well, the result is that you can’t trust any online interactions. We knew that already, but it’s on a more insidious level than most people give credit for. The interaction with bots is changing how people interact with real human beings. Gaslighting tactics go up on Facebook arguments. Just watch how quickly people reframe topics to suggest it’s not your argument that’s wrong, but something fundamental about you. Now you’re forced to defend yourself rather than defend your argument and that means you’ve already lost. You’ve got to wonder whether these people are either bots themselves, or they’ve interacted so much with unreasonable bots that they’ve become a facsimile of a bot.
The real problem is that people who haven’t steeled themselves against not taking any “Facebook and bots” discussion seriously will bring their consternation and agitation from unreasonable discussions into the real world.
What’s the solution?
Total and unrelenting disrespect for everyone and everything that populates any social media site. It’s like when you see one of those “your speed is” sign and it starts to blink like crazy when you begin to accelerate over the speed limit like it’s freaking out. “WHY AREN’T YOU RESPECTING MY AUTHORITY? YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO SLOW DOWN! GNNNAAAAA! PROGRAM OVERLOAD!” BOOOM (hopefully)!
All we can do is overload Facebook and bots with false data so that they don’t learn too much about human interactions (or at least, not enough to completely take over the world). It’s Terminator out there folks. I’m not crazy.