With an internet controlled by Facebook, Twitter, and Google who prioritize ads and money over quality of information, Aviv Ovadya chief technologist for the University of Michigan’s Center for Social Media Responsibility among other things worries about a Big Tech–enabled information crisis in this constant war for our attention.
But it’s what he sees coming next that will really scare the shit out of you.
“Alarmism can be good — you should be alarmist about this stuff,” Ovadya said one January afternoon before calmly outlining a deeply unsettling projection about the next two decades of fake news, artificial intelligence–assisted misinformation campaigns, and propaganda. “We are so screwed it's beyond what most of us can imagine,” he said. “We were utterly screwed a year and a half ago and we're even more screwed now. And depending how far you look into the future it just gets worse.”
That future, according to Ovadya, will arrive with a slew of slick, easy-to-use, and eventually seamless technological tools for manipulating perception and falsifying reality, for which terms have already been coined — “reality apathy,” “automated laser phishing,” and "human puppets."
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