These are problems that are difficult or impossible to solve without robust decentralized consensus.
The underlying theme is that with the right communication tools:
- false information meets harsh criticism, withers, and dies, and
- truthful information spreads the fastest.
Our current system disempowers individuals in favor of their party. Political parties rarely engage with the substance of conflicting viewpoints. They would rather engage in logical fallacies for quick donations or votes than host open discussions that address the nuances behind important issues.
Large societies are complex, and every policy and law has downsides and upsides. For individuals to form a well-reasoned opinion, they must be able to consider all facets of policies and their impact. Historical and future, local and global, individual and communal, long-term and short-term, and other effects are all important.
It’s not possible to convince the leading political parties that they should work harder to spread understanding of opposing side’s views, yet we desperately need to understand one-another better.
The political parties value their survival and success higher than society itself, so they will never help bring us together with members of opposing parties.
If we want to get out of this information dystopia, we have to collaborate with each other more directly to increase our exposure to more varied ideas so that our understanding of topics more closely reflects reality.
Fixing our politicial system is at its core just a matter of becoming better organized.
News corporations enjoy a protected status in our society because of the importance of the quick dissemination of reliable information.
However, our current news corporations are no longer reliable. They push hidden agendas and narratives that will benefit their owners, rather than some principled and objective truth.
It’s clear that our trust in them has been misplaced, and that we should take on the jobs of truth seeker and sharer ourselves.
If everyone consumes predominately centralized information sources, it’s easier for foreign adversaries to distribute propaganda and exert undue influence on large numbers of citizens.
It’s very difficult for most individuals to know if some advertisement, article, meme, or post was created by a genuine person or by some country’s intelligence bureau.
If we instead consume mostly from sources that we know directly and trust, our exposure level to external agitation decreases. If everyone does it, then the cost to widely distribute propaganda increases greatly.
The state of personal data security is currently a disaster. Compromise of any dozens of companies or organizations can lead to violating the privacy of millions of individuals. Because of their vast troves of data, these entities are extremely high-value targets for cybercriminals and wayward governments, essentially guaranteeing that they will be compromised eventually.
The solution isn’t for these companies to strive for perfect security, because that’s simply impossible.
The solution is for people to not give their information to the companies in the first place.
Our private conversations and data should only be accessible from machines we control and trust. Our data should only be shared with individuals that we know and trust.
If we control the machines and run the services where our personal data is stored, then in order for millions of people’s privacy to be violated, millions of people’s devices would have to be compromised.
This makes mass compromise difficult or prohibitively expensive.
Social interaction between humans inherently requires trust.
With centralized social infrastructure from companies like Facebook, we are forced to share our private data and conversations with them. With this data they are able to exploit our perception, cognition, time, and emotion for profit. With their control of our data feeds, they can increase their revenue by tweaking the information we receive.
This is an unsafe place for our private data and conversations, and an unsafe source of information.
The only alternative is to replace these manipulative systems with open systems that we control.
Every day in the United States, corporations flood the public with over a half-billion dollars of advertising.
They pay a great cost in money, but they gain control that is much more valuable.
If a company believes they can earn more than they will spend on some advertisement, they will try it. So we have thousands of companies aggressively competing in a lively marketplace, buying and selling public attention. We love competitive markets, because they encourage optimization, so this is ostensibly another successful economic engine!
However, the externalized cost in this case is life. Everyone has a limited amount of time to live, and advertising purchases this time.
They pollute the airwaves, skylines, scroll-throughs, search results, family discussions, and every other part of everyone’s lives. This is a cost multipled by our population, summing to a vast cost of attention and mindshare with little to no benefit for the individual. The last superbowl game had 99 million viewers. Most advertisements shown were 30-seconds long. Multiplying this 30 seconds times 99 million viewers gives 94 years of time wasted per commercial. For the entire year of 2019, the total advertisement time per person was estimated to be 49 minutes, giving a total cost of 9229 years. These are years of life that are wasted in just a single year, under the guise of principled economic output.
This is not real innovation, it’s just manipulation for profit.
Our society has generally accepted advertising as a legitimate way for companies to grow. They can inform the public about useful products and services that they may need, matching consumer to producer and enabling the holy grail of economic productivity. While economic productivity is very important, it’s entirely possible that advertising isn’t the ultimate approach to product advocacy.
What people really want is to know is how some product was helpful or not from a trustworthy source. They want to be connected to information that they can trust. Advertisement is not that, it is simply a shallow motivation to make a purchase.
What advertising really does is fund a massive industry of data gathering and personal analysis on an otherwise impossible scale. This is why advertising has such a central role in modern political competitions, and also why it’s worthwhile to eliminate.
If people make purchasing decisions based on direct (or a few hops from direct) connections, advertisement will become ineffective.
Updated: 21 August, 2022
Created: 1 July, 2022