The Hidden Architect of the Christchurch Mosque Massacre
This morning we see the awful details of the latest human massacre, carried out on one particular division of humanity, in the name of another.
And our hearts sincerely go out to the victims and their relatives.
We are advised not to share or even view some of the media materials captured of the event, especially that captured by the perpetrator(s).
Somewhat late, as it was live streamed to at least one of the most popular social media platforms.
We see and hear, rightfully, from all manner of political figures and speakers, the expected widespread condemnation of the person(s) who directly carried out this callous and cowardly attack, as well all of the organisations who might be involved in supporting it.
But a key fundamental figure is missed.
It is the drive for profit. In this case, from social media. The algorithms of those platforms are designed simply to maximise profit.
Maximum profit is gained from maximum attention, characterised by maximum volume of interactive activity and rapid fire conversations.
An extension of network theory beyond Metcalfs law named Reed’s law, is popular amongst network practitioners. It posits that the value of a network increases dramatically when people within it form subgroups for collaboration and sharing*
Hence the algorithms of many types of social media are designed to encourage that characteristic. The network encourages divisions; social bubbles. Within each division, much fervent activity occurs between members, no doubt sharing, boosting, and even funding** one another’s admiration of their particular cause, however repulsive the majority of us might see it.
But the majority of us do not see it. If we did, then the opinions and much of the misconceptions of those causes would be heavily modified by the more informed (and more moderate) public.
Between each division, and other socially isolated divisions that might be similarly extreme in opposite directions, there is much traffic in the form of hate wars, deriding one another’s causes, again maximising activity between divisions, and thus profit, but with little of it educating or moderating the other. Rather, each division retreats even further into extremism.
The result is that profit is maximised, slowly increasing over time, as each group gains in size and extremity, until an orgy of violence erupts, when one or the other physically attacks the softest targets they perceive as representative of their particular hated group.
Did the profit driven social media platforms profit from this atrocity? Of course they did. And they still are. At this moment, the activity on all forms of social media around the world is at a high, as the vast majority of moderate people around the world, see the awful news, responding with our outrage.
Profit is at a maximum.
Now, the algorithms are busy assisting yet more new groups to form, aligned with the sympathies and outrage of the victims, encapsulating and formenting that outrage.
Because it makes more profit.
Those algorithms are learning, and they are always busy. Not working to help us, but to make profit. Because that is their primary design aim.
Now we see a little of the results, and it is definitely not in our favour.
These times of maximum profit do not add value to our world.
Rather, they detract from it.
What will it be tomorrow?
We should recognise this as the real bad actor. We should call that out for what it is.
Name it and shame it.
Until we do that, I fear there is much worse to come.
It is time to declare profit seeking in the system is the real human enemy of humanity, to call it to account, and to recognise the fix.
That fix is technological, not political.
*The Wikipedia entry at the time of writing does not appear to clarify this clustering behaviour, or even distinguish between Reeds law and Metcalfs law. Our own opinion is that Reed’s law may only be applicable in the case of profit driven networks, whereas Metcalf’s law applies to non-profit networks, but an explanation of that is beyond the scope of this article.
**The future effect of imminent financial tokenisation in profit-driven platforms should be noted.
Two days on, we are seeing much traffic, with blame being assigned to many public figures and groups, by many other groups. No matter what their cause, it seems virtually any group can find a reason to blame their chosen hate target as having some part to play in the atrocity. Each one undoubtedly has a social media “Cluster”. None seem to have any awareness of the structure of the system that pits them against one another, profiting from their angst. It literally thrives on their torment.