Saturday, March 29, 2014

Unnaturally extreme social needs

"It's not that I'm not social. I'm social enough. But the tools you guys create actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No one needs the level of contact you're purveying. It improves nothing. It's not nourishing. It's like snack food. You know how they engineer this food? They scientifically determine precisely how much salt and fat they need to include to keep you eating. You're not hungry, you don't need the food, it does nothing for you, but you keep eating these emptying calories. This is what you're pushing. Same thing. Endless empty calories, but the digital-social equivalent. And you calibrate it so it's equally addictive."
— from The Circle, by Dave Eggers.

Yes! That's the world exactly.

(As the novel progresses, there's a creeping sense of unease. Clearly something bad is going to happen to sweet Mae, new employee of the Circle, modelled after real-life Google.)

My reading is enhanced this week by watching Google and the World Brain, in which Kevin Kelly relates how Larry Page said, "It's not to make a search engine, it's to make an AI."

Also, "Google's Earth" by William Gibson: "We are its unpaid content-providers [...]. Google is made of us."

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