Bizarre article on The Atlantic about a social-engineering study organized by Web Ecology Project. The goal, to determine if it was possible not only to infiltrate social networks, but also to influence them on a large scale by using social robots.
The group invited three teams to program "social bots" -- fake identities -- that could mimic human conversation on Twitter, and then picked 500 real users on the social network, the core of whom shared a fondness for cats. The Kiwis armed @JamesMTitus with a database of generic responses ("Oh, that's very interesting, tell me more about that") and designed it to systematically test parts of the network for what tweets generated the most responses, and then to talk to the most responsive people.
In the case of @JamesMTitus, the robot gained 109 followers in two weeks and all three robots had successfully insinuated themselves into the centre of the target network.
|Self-Organising Swarms of Robots|
|“Whether using drones to pollinate an apple orchard will increase yields.”|
|"Robots don’t respect the social and moral niceties that humans are socialized to observe."|
|"The creators were sent a photo of the vandalized robot but said they did not know who destroyed it or why."|
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|“There’s now a very large dataset of carefully curated photos of people from roughly 10 years ago and now.”|
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|“[T]here has never been this kind of financial incentive to make shorter songs.”|
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|“A short cut through spacetime allowing for travel over cosmic scale distances in a short period.”|
|“If you fell asleep in 1945 and woke up in 2018 you would not recognize the world around you.”|
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|“Huge privacy violations have become commonplace.”|