Can Social Media Ever Become Conscious Again? - 2020 Snapshot on the Meta Analysis Sascha Seifert (Mouna GmbH Film & Media Studios, Stuttgart, Germany) C24
The debates around Social Media are ongoing and ever-expanding. My talk will pick up where my previous talks at TSC on the wider subject had to break off. With rightful debates about the global influences on our societies consciousness by Social Media not coming to rest, I'm having an updated, closer look at the current situation in the universe of computerised social networks, aka "Social Media". If you visualise any computerised social network, the similarity of the network structures compared to neural networks is obvious and striking. This applies to structure as well as to input/output conditions. And, while for those studying brains, this seems obvious, the creators of computerised social networks seem to just have focussed (conscious or subconscious) on the hardware structure only, ignoring any input/output effects of such systems. At least until recently. Now, there is growing pressure to change this, as, no doubt, the influence of computerised social networks on the globally perceived human consciousness in every field, from banalities or gossip to health or science and politics is obvious and striking in so many ways. And it is constantly growing. Still. Admittedly, Facebook and Twitter became kind of an old guard already - carrying significant, influential voices of global debates nonetheless; but e.g. with Snapchat, WeChat or TikTok as well as Telegram, Slack, Tinder or Bumble, there are additional Behemoths forming out there already, more or less operating on the same principles, which is essentially the attention economy. ( Fannin, R.: The Strategy Behind TikTok's Global Rise. 2019) So, furthermore, the similarity between neural structures and computerised Social Networks is worth a closer look to debate aspects like data handling in computerised social networks, e.g. the way algorithms currently distribute information compared to conscious and unconscious decisions made by human consciousness. (Lazer, D.: The rise of the social algorithm. 2015) And to investigate what could be learned from this to manage content on Social Networks in ways that create less harm to human consciousness. (Castellacci, F. Tveito, V.: Internet use and well-being: A survey and a theoretical framework. 2018). Constantly, on and on, there is new evidence coming on the table about how computerised social network content ( = data input) put into peoples minds clearly influenced peoples offline behaviour about decisions very relevant to society (here, issue #1 = vote). My talk will give an overview of the current situation in general, present about the state of science in the field by discussing selected studies on the subject matter. By this, I will show where I see connections between human consciousness and its current expressions and threats in the computerised social networks we summarise as Social Media.