Nana AI vs. the algorithms
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.
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.