The conscience of Silicon Valley

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Tristan Harris talks about the ethical conscience of social networks. How much do we know about their functioning?

Do you think that you are in control of your social networks? Have you ever thought about how invasive it is that as soon as you open your Facebook account an algorithm asks you what you are thinking about and it even calls you by your name? When an activity is repeated several times a day, it goes unnoticed, it loses importance and we even stop noticing it, but does our unconscious also lets it by?

 

Tristan Harris came from Silicon Valley to tell us how does the inside of companies that manage social networks really work, and how they do not only control their algorithms, but our minds as well. His talk at La Ciudad de las Ideas 2017, made us reflect without any doubts. When he told us the figure: 2 billion, which corresponds to the number of Facebook followers, and by the way outnumbers the current followers of religions such as Christianity or Islam, we had to look differently at this application which we consider to use in “our free time”.

 

How come we talk so much about artificial intelligence and when is it that it is coming, if it´s already here and we have simply called it by a different name? Harris says that artificial intelligence has already arrived and the reason we do not want to acknowledge it is because we have pointed it towards us, instead of using it to solve problems that we have. These networks are so intelligent that they surpass us; they can even know thousands of steps before our minds, what is it that they are going to think and therefore manage to manipulate us. They tilt our tastes, our cultural opinions, among others. This happens because every notification we receive detonates a series of thoughts within our brain that are not controlled by us; if we are sliding down a Newsfeed we are thinking what a Facebook worker decided, as simple as that.Their goal is business and they achieve it by getting our attention, that is why all social networks work hard to possess it. Offering you the product is not enough, you have to engage with it.

 

Tristan Harris proposes that in order to take care of our minds we must be honest with our digital environment, we should direct artificial intelligence to the protection of humanity, not to its attack.

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