Nana AI vs. the algorithms

Benns' Belief

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By Roderick Benns

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Advocate. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, he has written several books including Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World.

Roderick Benns wonders what our society would look like if we had a built-in, maternalistic AI system to counter the algorithms of social media.

We all know how social media works. If I choose to read one article on why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should resign, then social media will feed me a steady diet of anti-Trudeau content. (He should resign. I mean, the snow is here…shouldn’t he go for a walk in it to give his party a fighting chance?)

Similarly, if I read an article or two on how Pierre Poilievre is going to save Canada (by dividing people, I guess?) that’s all I will get. (In other words, just National Post headlines out the wazoo.)

So, it doesn’t matter what you choose to read, because whatever it is you’ll be fed a stream of it, whether it’s politics, music, or Hollywood trash. Speaking of trash, that’s also how we get so much American content infused in our brains. Let’s say, in a weak moment, a woman clicks on one link about the Kardashians, only because she is shocked – shocked I say! – at the dress Kim Kardashian is wearing. The next thing you know she’s seeing actual articles like the following in her Google News feed:

“North West Told Mom Kim Kardashian Her Met Gala Dress Had ‘Dollar Store’ Vibes.”

(Yes, for those who were blessed not to know this fact, the child’s name is North West. I mean, I’m all for providing kids direction in life but that’s a wee bit literal for me.)

But here’s where I’m going with all this. What if we had a built-in, maternalistic AI system to counter the algorithms? So, after you’ve binged, say, five articles on why COVID vaccines are a hoax and how people are getting microchipped in their bloodstream so the World Economic Forum can keep track of us all, Nana AI kicks in and forces you to audit an online science class or something. Or maybe it’s just a gentle voiceover through your computer or phone speakers:

“Hey, Jeb, it’s Nana AI. You’ve reached your limit for this news source, and I use that term charitably. Here’s the same topic you’re interested in with a twist; it contains facts.”

(Okay, in my mind Nana AI is whimsically sarcastic.)

I mean, things could get too far, admittedly. She could start micromanaging too many of our interests. Not letting you buy a latte when you want one. Or she might lock your steering wheel as you try and turn into the Coach and Horses for a drink after work. But honestly, wouldn’t it be great to have something to counter those algorithms? Because God knows we can’t seem to figure out how to do it out ourselves.


  1. William says:

    The same could be said about the people who read factually incorrect at best, and outright lies more often, about Israel’s genocidal massacre of Gaza (and mass murders and ethnic cleansing of other Palestinian territories).

    Imagine writing an article talking about misinformation and disinformation, and NOT talking about the obvious: that our very own mainstream media cannot be trusted on important topics, and anyone who speaks out about the wanton slaughter of Palestinians by Israel is deemed antisemitic, then they’re censored, or doxxed, or banned from platforms, or expelled/suspended from school, or fired from their job, or have their homes violently raided by police and have their property stolen (like the Indigo 11).

    In a time where the mainstream media is clearly lying to us, you want even more suppression.

    It’s obvious you are a victim of what you claim others are a victim of without even realizing it.

  2. William says:

    I’m also beginning to wonder whether the treatment of the anti-vaxxers, including the police violence and freezing of bank accounts, was just a preview of things to come. If the government doesn’t like what you have to say, including about Palestine and Israel, they can simply come after you, evidenced by the so-called Indigo 11, many of whom are Jewish. Or NDP MPP Sarah Jama. Or the Canadians listed on sites like Canary Mission that the government doesn’t care to stop.

    I could write countless words on this, but it’s probably best if you just did some actual reading of your own. If you don’t want to hear it from me, you could simply go to the many Jewish organizations, like Independent Jewish Voices or Jewish Voices for Peace, who are also attacked for speaking out and protesting. Or the Jewish and Israeli historians and genocide scholars, like Ilan Pappe and Raz Segal, to name a couple. Or the brave 18-year-old Israeli who dared to defy his mandatory IDF enlistment and instead opted for prison.

  3. William says:

    Honestly what you’re asking for is extremely dystopian. I would like people to be more knowledgeable, but who is going to control this? What voices and views will be purposely silenced? Surely, anyone talking critically of Israel would be caught up in this suppression mechanism.

    Surely, this hypothetical AI would tell me that I should stop caring about the more than 22,000 slaughtered, more than 59,000 wounded, and more than 8,000 missing or under the rubble – and instead read the IDF or US government words on the matter.

    “Hey, it’s Nana AI. You’ve reached your limit for pro-Palestine articles, which isn’t a country anyway. Here’s the same topic you’re interested in with a twist; it’s IDF and Israeli Hasbara, also known as the accepted truth by the powers that be.”

  4. Bradley Sales says:

    If Nana AI’s “facts” and “science” don’t agree with the news the Advocate is so eager to print, those can be reported any way the editor wishes, as we see right here.

  5. Frank Morris says:

    Wow so much vitriol. So much evidence of the failure of our education system to impart critical thinking skills or how to have a civil discourse.

  6. Joan Abernethy says:

    From what I understand, empathetic personal internet with executive function algorithms that will address exactly the issues Benns lampoons is coming soon, possibly within the decade. I am not a fan of any kind of force, AI force included, but in the face of the monstrously entitled, know-it-all society that everyone-gets-a-trophy culture has created, we may need to cede a little freedom for some stable rule by democratically-elected technocrats … at least until the current herd thins out.

    I would hope, though, that if an innocent were stabbed – once, twice, thrice – by a hostile other but managed, after the third thrust of the knife to reach back, grab a rock and bash his/her/their attacker over the head and, in doing so, killed that attacker, even the antisemitics among us would not blame the innocent for her/his/their self defence.

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