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John Coster: Why algorithms hurt


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

My favorite site for insightful, non-ideological essays is Information Clearing House. I always get warnings about dangerous content when I go there. Also, if you click on a link, it says “site unavailable;” then, if you go back and try again, the link works.

If I try to copy and paste to Facebook, it doesn’t work. I tried copying into my email, then copying and pasting that. This seems to have foiled the robobots who are programmed to obliterate wrongthought, aka critical thinking. The present plague of censorship could well kill more people in the long run than any pandemic. Just think of what happens to ideological societies that cannot adapt.

I’m glad we didn’t have algorithms programmed by historical illiterates when I was a kid. We probably wouldn’t have heard JFK’s speech about the dangers of secret cabals operating in the shadows, much less MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech. If we Googled Mark Twain, we would probably have seen nothing but articles on the difficulties of navigating in the Mississippi River.

Twain really knew how to skewer the high and mighty. I think the quote below really strikes home. “While we all fixate on electoral political solutions, the powerful focus on narrative control, because that’s where real power is at. The people who pose an actual threat to the machine are those who disrupt its narratives and narrative control agendas. Everyone else is harmless. If the majority of a troubled population believes their political system is operating in a way that is demonstrably very different from the way it actually operates, then that population doesn’t have a political problem, it has a propaganda problem.” Caitlin Johnstone

John Coster

Amherst