Episode 15

#15 - Social Media I: Manipulation, Outrage, and Documentaries


November 11th, 2020

1 hr 22 mins 29 secs

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About this Episode

Alright spiders, point this at your brain. Ben and Vaden do a deep dive into the recent Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma and have a genuine debate, just like the good ol' days.  Topics touched:

  • Why Vaden dislikes documentaries, and this one in particular
  • Is reliance on social media a problem?
  • The advertisement model
  • The relationship between social media and mental health
  • ... and political polarization
  • ... and outrage in general
  • Epistemological erosion
  • Wars of words and swords

Outraged? Polarized? Radicalized, even?  We want to hear about it at incrementspodcast@gmail.com.

Quotes referenced in episode:

"This point being crossed is at the root of addiction, polarization, radicalization, outrageification, vanityification, the entire thing. This is overpowering human nature, and this is checkmate on humanity."
- Tristan Harris, The Social Dilemma

"If we go down the current status quo for, let's say, another 20 years... we probably destroy our civilization through willful ignorance. We probably fail to meet the challenge of climate change. We probably degrade the world's democracies so that they fall into some sort of bizarre autocratic dysfunction. We probably ruin the global economy.  Uh, we probably, um, don't survive.  You know, I... I really do view it as existential."
- Jaron Lanier, The Social Dilemma

"We're pointing these engines of AI back at ourselves to reverse-engineer what elicits responses from us. Almost like you're stimulating nerve cells on a spider to see what causes its legs to respond. So, it really is this kind of prison experiment where we're just, you know, roping people into the matrix, and we're just harvesting all this money and... and data from all their activity to profit from."
- Tristan Harris, The Social Dilemma

"Although I am an admirer of tradition, and conscious of its importance, I am, at the same time, an almost orthodox adherent of unorthodoxy: I hold that orthodoxy is the death of knowledge, since the growth of knowledge depends entirely on the existence of disagreement. Admittedly, disagreement may lead to strife, and even to violence. And this, I think, is very bad indeed, for I abhor violence. Yet disagreement may also lead to discussion, to argument, and to mutual criticism. And these, I think, are of paramount importance. I suggest that the greatest step towards a better and more peaceful world was taken when the war of swords was first supported, and later sometimes even replaced, by a war of words."
- Karl Popper, The Myth Of The Framework


Vaden keeps saying "Jared Lanier" when it should be "Jaron Lanier". Oops!