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posted by janrinok on Monday February 05, @03:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the achieving-reason-progress-and-freedom-by-dispensing-with-humility-and-nuance dept.

The theoretical promise of AI is as hopeful as the promise of social media once was, and as dazzling as its most partisan architects project. AI really could cure numerous diseases. It really could transform scholarship and unearth lost knowledge. Except that Silicon Valley, under the sway of its worst technocratic impulses, is following the playbook established in the mass scaling and monopolization of the social web:

Facebook (now Meta) has become an avatar of all that is wrong with Silicon Valley. Its self-interested role in spreading global disinformation is an ongoing crisis. Recall, too, the company’s secret mood-manipulation experiment in 2012, which deliberately tinkered with what users saw in their News Feed in order to measure how Facebook could influence people’s emotional states without their knowledge. Or its participation in inciting genocide in Myanmar in 2017. Or its use as a clubhouse for planning and executing the January 6, 2021, insurrection. (In Facebook’s early days, Zuckerberg listed “revolutions” among his interests. This was around the time that he had a business card printed with I’M CEO, BITCH.)

And yet, to a remarkable degree, Facebook’s way of doing business remains the norm for the tech industry as a whole, even as other social platforms (TikTok) and technological developments (artificial intelligence) eclipse Facebook in cultural relevance.

The new technocrats claim to embrace Enlightenment values, but in fact they are leading an antidemocratic, illiberal movement.

[...] The Shakespearean drama that unfolded late last year at OpenAI underscores the extent to which the worst of Facebook’s “move fast and break things” mentality has been internalized and celebrated in Silicon Valley. OpenAI was founded, in 2015, as a nonprofit dedicated to bringing artificial general intelligence into the world in a way that would serve the public good. Underlying its formation was the belief that the technology was too powerful and too dangerous to be developed with commercial motives alone.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, @04:22PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, @04:22PM (#1343338)

    There was lots of talk about Facebook helping Trump win AFTER Trump won. But before Trump won there was this:
    https://nypost.com/2016/04/12/zuckerberg-lays-out-facebooks-future-takes-subtle-jab-at-trump/ [nypost.com]

    Mark Zuckerberg took a thinly veiled swipe at Donald Trump on Tuesday, blasting the real-estate tycoon’s talk of “building walls.”

    “I hear fearful voices talking about building walls,” the 31-year-old tech billionaire said as he took the stage at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in San Francisco. “Instead of building walls, we can build bridges.”

    And this: https://gizmodo.com/facebook-employees-asked-mark-zuckerberg-if-they-should-1771012990 [gizmodo.com]

    Inside Facebook, the political discussion has been more explicit. Last month, some Facebook employees used a company poll to ask Zuckerberg whether the company should try “to help prevent President Trump in 2017.”

    Every week, Facebook employees vote in an internal poll on what they want to ask Zuckerberg in an upcoming Q&A session. A question from the March 4 poll was: “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?”

    A screenshot of the poll, given to Gizmodo, shows the question as the fifth most popular.

    So it did seem a bit strange to later see accusations that Facebook (and the Russians) helped Trump win, when before that they seemed more likely to be biased against Trump from employees to Zuck himself.