Internet Giants: Not as Smart as They Think They Are

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other large internet companies have taken it upon themselves to censor and block content they find offensive.  Unfortunately for some of us, they seem to find that any thought that might be described as conservative falls within this offensive category, but their actions are dangerous regardless of political leanings.

They each have their own methods of doing so, but they are trying their best to control what the public hears and sees and thereby shape what is thought.  Obviously, newspapers and other media have been doing somewhat similar things for ages, but these present attempts are of a different magnitude.

Never before has any media company had this level and control of "share of mind" over billions of people.  Google and Facebook and their subsidiaries (WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) control around 75% of all internet traffic and almost all advertising. 

Over half of the entire world, four billion people, uses the Internet.  Over 250 million people came online in just the last year!  The average internet-user now spends around six hours each day using internet-powered devices and services.

The problem with their attempting to control and rig the game is that they simply aren't as smart as they seem to think they are.  What forces are they going to unleash with their manipulation and censorship in an attempt at thought control?  There is no way of knowing, as the various social interactions among hundreds of millions of people are far too many and far too intricate to predict.

They are playing with fire, and the results down the road might be terrifying for all.  In effect, they are unknowingly creating ripples in the normal flow of human existence – ripples that might become waves, which might crash down upon millions, if not billions of individuals.  

There is a better way.  These companies can still make their billions selling advertising and reach, but if they and we are to survive, they need to treat the rest with a laissez-faire attitude.  Let the unguided actions of millions drive things.  Swarm intelligence will always work better than attempted manipulation.

Swarm intelligence is a relatively new concept that attempts to explain and understand the collective behavior of group animals – think of honeybees, schools of fish, herds of bison, flocks of birds, etc.

The intelligence of the swarm is a significant multiplier.  Rather than relying solely on individual intelligence, these groups create a collective intelligence that is orders of magnitudes beyond that of any individual member.

They do so without any leader, with no management of any sort, with no one "seeing the big picture."  In fact, having no one in charge is a key ingredient to swarm intelligence!

This incredible increase in intelligence is driven by countless interactions among individual members, with each following simple rules of thumb and reacting to its local environment and those members around it. 

And although it may be difficult to grasp, this self-organizing behavior has no cause and effect.  It simply is.  This process is the basis for the success of the human race.

Swarm intelligence also smoothes out the wrinkles that may occur.  It allows for a natural flow of events, with constant feedback loops to minimize the chances of a ripple turning into a wave turning into a life-destroying crash. 

Obviously, events may still lead to catastrophe.  But allowing swarm intelligence to do its magic certainly decreases the odds and ensures that the negative consequence, whatever it may be, will be the minimum possible.  Putting a "boss" in charge and attempting to direct events is just as certain to increase the odds of catastrophic failure somewhere down the line.  This is a scientific fact just as certain as gravity. 

So, social media and internet giants, please stop your attempts at thought control.  You are truly putting the future of the entire planet at risk.  Remember, a good rule is first, do no harm, and the first step is accepting that you are not as smart as you think.  Step back and let swarm intelligence do its magic.  Trust the people.  The lives of billions of people are in your hands, and the science is clear.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He also holds a B.S. in Earth sciences and an MBA and is the founder and president of E.I.C. Enterprises (www.eicenterprises.org), a USA-based 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world, primarily through K-12 education.  E.I.C. Enterprise's GoFundMe page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/so-you-believe-in-science-eh.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other large internet companies have taken it upon themselves to censor and block content they find offensive.  Unfortunately for some of us, they seem to find that any thought that might be described as conservative falls within this offensive category, but their actions are dangerous regardless of political leanings.

They each have their own methods of doing so, but they are trying their best to control what the public hears and sees and thereby shape what is thought.  Obviously, newspapers and other media have been doing somewhat similar things for ages, but these present attempts are of a different magnitude.

Never before has any media company had this level and control of "share of mind" over billions of people.  Google and Facebook and their subsidiaries (WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) control around 75% of all internet traffic and almost all advertising. 

Over half of the entire world, four billion people, uses the Internet.  Over 250 million people came online in just the last year!  The average internet-user now spends around six hours each day using internet-powered devices and services.

The problem with their attempting to control and rig the game is that they simply aren't as smart as they seem to think they are.  What forces are they going to unleash with their manipulation and censorship in an attempt at thought control?  There is no way of knowing, as the various social interactions among hundreds of millions of people are far too many and far too intricate to predict.

They are playing with fire, and the results down the road might be terrifying for all.  In effect, they are unknowingly creating ripples in the normal flow of human existence – ripples that might become waves, which might crash down upon millions, if not billions of individuals.  

There is a better way.  These companies can still make their billions selling advertising and reach, but if they and we are to survive, they need to treat the rest with a laissez-faire attitude.  Let the unguided actions of millions drive things.  Swarm intelligence will always work better than attempted manipulation.

Swarm intelligence is a relatively new concept that attempts to explain and understand the collective behavior of group animals – think of honeybees, schools of fish, herds of bison, flocks of birds, etc.

The intelligence of the swarm is a significant multiplier.  Rather than relying solely on individual intelligence, these groups create a collective intelligence that is orders of magnitudes beyond that of any individual member.

They do so without any leader, with no management of any sort, with no one "seeing the big picture."  In fact, having no one in charge is a key ingredient to swarm intelligence!

This incredible increase in intelligence is driven by countless interactions among individual members, with each following simple rules of thumb and reacting to its local environment and those members around it. 

And although it may be difficult to grasp, this self-organizing behavior has no cause and effect.  It simply is.  This process is the basis for the success of the human race.

Swarm intelligence also smoothes out the wrinkles that may occur.  It allows for a natural flow of events, with constant feedback loops to minimize the chances of a ripple turning into a wave turning into a life-destroying crash. 

Obviously, events may still lead to catastrophe.  But allowing swarm intelligence to do its magic certainly decreases the odds and ensures that the negative consequence, whatever it may be, will be the minimum possible.  Putting a "boss" in charge and attempting to direct events is just as certain to increase the odds of catastrophic failure somewhere down the line.  This is a scientific fact just as certain as gravity. 

So, social media and internet giants, please stop your attempts at thought control.  You are truly putting the future of the entire planet at risk.  Remember, a good rule is first, do no harm, and the first step is accepting that you are not as smart as you think.  Step back and let swarm intelligence do its magic.  Trust the people.  The lives of billions of people are in your hands, and the science is clear.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He also holds a B.S. in Earth sciences and an MBA and is the founder and president of E.I.C. Enterprises (www.eicenterprises.org), a USA-based 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world, primarily through K-12 education.  E.I.C. Enterprise's GoFundMe page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/so-you-believe-in-science-eh.