Social Media, Persuasive Tech, and Undue Influence

If the title grabs your attention, then you absolutely must read the Consilience Papers. Here is a link to their fourth and final paper in our Propaganda series: “Social Media Enables Undue Influence.”

Resources mentioned in this episode:

– Dark Persuasion: A History of Brainwashing from Pavlov to Social Media by Joel E. Dimsdale:
– Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of ‘brainwashing’ in China by Robert Jay Lifton:
– Taiwan’s Digital Democracy:
– The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff:

Dr. Zak Stein is well-known in the metamodern space and author of many well-known articles and essays, and the book Education in a Time Between Worlds: Essays on the Future of Schools, Technology, and Society. He is also a contributor to the Consilience Project, where among other things he has taken a lead role on a powerful four-part series of essays on propaganda and the current social media environment

The Propaganda Series makes clear just how urgent our situation is. Our minds and our communities are becoming radically destabilized due to a constant barrage of limbic hijacking, attention capture, and profit-seeking algorithmic curation. In this final paper, we argue that the implications are far-reaching, threatening the sovereignty of individual choice and agency.

All four papers suggest that there are clear opportunities and solutions in the domains of education and culture, especially innovations in digital civic technologies. There is a way forward for open societies in the digital age.

The same technologies that “brainwash” us now could provide for a kind of education more powerful than any modern school system. The tools used to capture our attention and deliver advertisements could be used to promote deep learning and to protect our attention from being degraded. Schools, communities, governments, and markets can be improved through the use of digital technologies, but this requires rethinking many of the basic assumptions currently driving technology innovations in these areas.

The 4 part Series on Propaganda:
? Part 1: It’s a MAD Information War
? Part 3: The End of Propaganda
? Part 4: Social Media Enables Undue Influence

We have to change the incentive structures. If and when our cultural institutions become to ridged to make such fundamental changes, then we must look to rebuilding the culture after the inevitable collapses. That is where we are, or soon will be. What decentralized solution can we support today?

ABOUT – The Consilience Project

They publish novel research at the leading edges of global risk mitigation, governance design and culture. Their content explores the key challenges and existential threats facing humanity, and the underlying problems with current approaches for addressing them. We outline how our social systems and institutions need to be redesigned if free, open, non-authoritarian societies are to survive.

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