The Last Days of Reality

 

The cover story in the Summer 2018 issue of Meanjin featured my article about profiling, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. “The Last Days of Reality” looks at Facebook’s fateful decision to turn itself into a machine for validating our deeply-held beliefs – and what that’s done to us as individuals (fragmented) and as a culture (corroded social discourse).

 

I make a lot of claims in the article, and was very careful to keep extensive footnotes on my research. That’s not Meanjin’s style so the footnotes did not make it into the print publication. Now that the article has been published online – if you haven’t, you can read it here – I’m publishing my footnote references here.

 

Any questions or corrections? Please contact me.
 
 

Introduction

 
Facebook exploits ‘insecure’ to sell ads, Darren Davidson, The Australian 1 May 2017
 
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/digital/facebook-targets-insecure-young-people-to-sell-ads/news-story/a89949ad016eee7d7a61c3c30c909fa6
 
https://www.forbes.com/sites/paularmstrongtech/2017/05/01/facebook-is-helping-brands-target-teens-who-feel-worthless/
 
Mark Interviewed on ‘The Project’, 1 May 2017
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk9mWTBTNc8
 
Facebook admits fault over children ad sales tactics, The Australian 2 May 2017
 
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/digital/facebook-admits-fault-over-children-ad-sales-tactics/news-story/8a9fd2d533035ae0454bebbf9f896b52
 
 

One / Facebook and the Monetisation of Propaganda

 
Buzzfeed reports on Macedonian content farms
 
https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/how-macedonia-became-a-global-hub-for-pro-trump-misinfo
 
Facebook uses cookies to track everyone. Everywhere.
 
https://www.theverge.com/2016/5/27/11795248/facebook-ad-network-non-users-cookies-plug-ins
 
Facebook caught out manipulating 689,000 news feeds to influence user emotions.
 
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/29/facebook-users-emotions-news-feeds
 
The full paper describing the experiment and its outcomes.
 
http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.full
 
Buzzfeed examines the newsfeed of a conservative mother and lefty daughter – what they learn will shock you.
 
https://www.buzzfeed.com/lamvo/facebook-filter-bubbles-liberal-daughter-conservative-mom
 
 

Two / Machine Learning and Surveillance of the Self

 
China censors the livestream of world-best Go player beaten by AI
 
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/24/china-censored-googles-alphago-match-against-worlds-best-go-player
 
Car teaches itself to drive using AI
 
http://www.thedrive.com/news/6836/nvidia-is-teaching-audis-autonomous-cars-how-to-drive
 
Facebook’s formula for winning with AI
 
https://www.fastcompany.com/3060570/facebooks-formula-for-winning-at-ai
 
 

Three / The Pursuadables

 
Experiment shows how to talk women into lower maths scores
 
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/314/5798/435
 
May 2017 Guardian exposé on links between Cambridge Analytica and Brexit
 
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy
 
Guardian reports Cambridge Analytica meeting with Australia’s Federal Liberal party
 
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/apr/05/donald-trumps-data-mining-advisers-to-meet-liberal-mps-in-canberra
 
 

Four / Augmented Reality and the Pollyanna Machine

 
Mark Zuckerberg Previews Augmented Reality ‘Spectacles’ at F8
 
https://www.recode.net/2017/4/18/15315764/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-augmented-reality-ar-f8-glasses
 
Zuckerberg reveals Facebook’s Augmented Reality Strategy
 
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/04/18/inside-mark-zuckerbergs-vision-your-facebook-augmented-reality/100491086/
 
 

Six / What is to be Done?

 
China builds a ‘Social Credit’ system to Spy on its Citizens
 
http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/24/chinese-citizens-want-the-government-to-rank-them
 
WIRED on China’s Social Credit System
 
https://www.wired.com/story/age-of-social-credit
 
 

Seven / Standover Job

 
danah boyd’s 2010 Blog Post on Regulating Facebook as a Utility
 
http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2010/05/15/facebook-is-a-utility-utilities-get-regulated.html
 
Steve Bannon’s July 2017 call to regulate Facebook and Google
 
https://theintercept.com/2017/07/27/steve-bannon-wants-facebook-and-google-regulated-like-utilities/
 
German Anti-Trust Regulators Treat Facebook as a Cartel
 
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/facebook-germany-cartel-office-personal-data-user-accounts-extorts-antitrust-eu-social-media-network-a7820331.html
 
John Robb Warns Regulating Facebook Could Enshrine its Power
 
http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2017/09/will-facebook-become-the-worlds-most-powerful-government-contractor.html
 
 

Eight / Doing a Solid

 
Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee on his Solid Project
 
https://www.wired.com/2016/06/inventors-internet-trying-build-truly-permanent-web/
 
 

Conclusion / President Zuck

 
Mark Zuckerberg Disavows Atheism, Says Religion “Very Important”
 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/12/30/mark-zuckerberg-says-hes-no-longer-an-atheist-believes-religion-is-very-important/