Not only is the survival of open society in question; the survival of our entire civilization is at stake?
A new paper, published in the elite journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, escalated a simple yet alarming question. The paper is authored by an extraordinary team of biology, psychology, neural, and climate science researchers. It is a must-read and probably a call-to-action for us to realize how far misinformation on the internet can grow and lead to some very intense problems.
University of Washington researcher and co-author Joseph Bak-Coleman talked about the paper with Vox. Here’s what he said in the interview:
Animals tell us a lot about behaviors in general; therefore, to study human society, we need to examine their behaviors and use a different yet complex system. It is kind of how we use mice models or flies to understand neuroscience. So the main goal is to consider that perspective and then examine human society.
One of the things about complex systems is they have a restricted limit to distress. If you disturb them and cross the limit, they change without any warning or alarm. Also, they tend to react and change regardless of the circumstances.
According to Bak-Coleman and his colleagues, social media has interrupted the flow of trustworthy info about health, climate, and many other important areas. You are not sure if you’re getting the correct info about a topic, but they don’t solely criticize online platforms. They think that the internet provides some of the best options and makes human lives much easier and better.
“Democratizing information has had profound effects, especially for marginalized, underrepresented communities,” Bak-Coleman told Vox. “It gives them the ability to rally online, have a platform, and have a voice. And that is fantastic. At the same time, we have things like the genocide of Rohingya Muslims and an insurrection at the Capitol happening as well.”
However, every social media platform utilizes an algorithm to customize users’ “feed” with content they enjoy. Who knows, it might not be accurate information or a reliable source.
From the “explore” page of Instagram to the recommended videos on YouTube, the online services we are increasingly using in our daily lives are solely restating our beliefs while actively preventing opposing ones from coming to our attention. By only being exposed to one viewpoint, we are becoming short-headed. For instance, the allowance of misinformation, the incentives for intolerance, and the suspension of progress are major concerns.