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Home » Zeynep Tufekci: We’re Building a Dystopia Just to Make People Click on Ads (Transcript)

Zeynep Tufekci: We’re Building a Dystopia Just to Make People Click on Ads (Transcript)

Zeynep Tufekci

Here is the full transcript of Techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci’s TED Talk: We’re Building a Dystopia Just to Make People Click on Ads…

Zeynep Tufekci – Techno-sociologist

So when people voice fears of artificial intelligence, very often, they invoke images of humanoid robots run amok. You know? Terminator? You know, that might be something to consider, but that’s a distant threat.

Or, we fret about digital surveillance with metaphors from the past “1984,” George Orwell’s “1984,” it’s hitting the bestseller lists again. It’s a great book, but it’s not the correct dystopia for the 21st century.

What we need to fear most is not what artificial intelligence will do to us on its own, but how the people in power will use artificial intelligence to control us and to manipulate us in novel, sometimes hidden, subtle and unexpected ways. Much of the technology that threatens our freedom and our dignity in the near-term future is being developed by companies in the business of capturing and selling our data and our attention to advertisers and others: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent.

Now, artificial intelligence has started bolstering their business as well. And it may seem like artificial intelligence is just the next thing after online ads. It’s not. It’s a jump in category. It’s a whole different world, and it has great potential.

It could accelerate our understanding of many areas of study and research. But to paraphrase a famous Hollywood philosopher, “With prodigious potential comes prodigious risk”. Now let’s look at a basic fact of our digital lives, online ads. Right? We kind of dismiss them. They seem crude, ineffective.

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