Hello Cardano Community,
I have recently learned about Dead Internet Theory and believe that crypto is specifically suited to deal with this tragedy of the commons situation. In this post I will give a quick overview of Dead Internet Theory including additional resources and then list some different ways I think we can approach this problem from different perspectives as a community.
TLDR; Large proportions of the supposedly human-produced content on the internet are actually generated by artificial intelligence networks in conjunction with paid secret media influencers in order to manufacture consumers for an increasing range of newly-normalised cultural products.
These days many people look at the news generated by CNN and friends as propaganda with an agenda. The news on TV is mostly fake and designed to shape our perceptions on things. What if this phenomenon also plays out on the internet in a much more implicit way. When I talk to my friends and family they are unaware of where they get their ideas and ideology come from and I find that fact concerning.
We should all be familiar with the bot problems on social media but if you want to further down that rabbit hole I recommend watching this video that demonstrates how easy it is to buy likes on facebook for cheap. Now just imagine businesses with a couple dozen people hired over seas in India or Malaysia for a couple dollars a day producing endless content to shape the public conversation. Add in GPT3 and other AI’s then things start to get weird.
What I find interesting about Dead Internet Theory is that this bot and fake content problem can be viewed at from an engineering perspective. There are lots of mitigation’s that can be implemented against bots and fake content. I am hoping this post starts a discussion on this problem from a crypto perspective. It it seems like most social media companies are more than willing to allow themselves to be manipulated by these unknown entities because it increases engagement numbers or something like that. It is like this fake content is a drug that is used to produced metrics and when once you take it you can’t get off it without some withdrawal.
I also want to make you all aware of media theorist Marshall McLuhan who popularized the phrase “The Medium is The Message”. Reading, Listening, Watching and Browsing all engage us differently and teach us to think in different ways. The way these medium’s are also wielded is something we rarely think about. For example youtube was called youtube because YOU could respond to videos with video responses rather than just comments. Can you imagine what youtube would be like if it still had that feature? Anyways here are some other quotes form Marshal I am still personally processing that are valuable to this discussion.
“World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.”"
------ Marshall McLuhan
“Radical changes of identity, happening suddenly and in very brief intervals of time, have proved more deadly and destructive of human values than wars fought with hardware weapons.”
------ Marshall McLuhan
The power of fake internet theory is also demonstrated through the ELIZA program the first chat bot developed in the 1960’s. ELIZA was designed to ask questions similar to a psychotherapist. ELIZA’s creator Weizenbaum’s own secretary reportedly asked Weizenbaum to leave the room so that she and ELIZA could have a real conversation. Weizenbaum was surprised by this, later writing: “I had not realized … that extremely short exposures to a relatively simple computer program could induce powerful delusional thinking in quite normal people.” Now just add an additional 60 years of development to these chat bots and imagine who would want to use them.
By this point I hope I have convinced you that Dead Internet Theory is a problem worth discussing and researching. My goal with the rest of this post is to start brainstorming and building a team that can eventually apply for a catalyst grant. We can be Cardano’s OSINT crew or help develop a DID social network or something like that.
Dead Internet Theory is not exactly a proven hypothesis but it can be. I am just having a hard time defining a clear hypothesis we can go ahead and test and even we can define the hypothesis we need to be skilled enough to actually gather and process the required data. I have been reading through the textbook on this topic OSINT Techniques as well as familiarizing myself with the crypto specific tools such as, Dune Analytics and The Graph and frankly I find the whole thing overwhelming. I don’t know how to form a problem so that I can actually wield these tools.
Here are some of my initial thoughts,
Find where to buy social media engagement and document the different product offerings and pricing.
Interview people who manage bot networks to find out what kind of requests people have for them.
Buy social media engagement and document its unique characteristics
Interview people that actually buy social media engagement.
Research social media scraping technologies and services.
Go on linkedin and find experts then approach them with specific questions.
I also want some help defining a problem that can be approached form a Data Engineering perspective,
It is possible to get indexes of from social media, the Internet Archive or just a sample of the entire internet. The problem I have is knowing what to look for within all this data. The most basic thing would be to map out what links to what but a graph like that is also useless without context and a query. I also think a good place to start would be to use a simple language model like BERT and extract all the places, names, and nouns among other things then generate summaries of different communities and parts of the internet.
I saw a AMA with Charles Hoskinson the other day where he mentioned how he and his team tried to get in contact with Twitter about using DID’s for digital identity. Sadly Elon and the new twitter elite are too isolated to listen. There are a lot of federated, decentralised, and faux decentralised social media protocols and no good way to compare or look inside them to my knowledge. I would really like to know who the experts, teams, papers, projects, protocols, and standards in this space. I also think the same way blockchain protocols will be judged with the Edinburgh Decentralization Index social we should have tools and heuristics to judge and measure media platforms and protocols. If we can conduct the appropriate meta analysis as well as learn or develop the right OSINT tools we can be uniquely positions to develop a next generation social media protocol.