Invisible change is the scariest
In our life, many things happen repeatedly, and people will accept these things implicitly. This means that we are changing, whether in terms of ethics, laws or values. We live in an era of highly developed Internet and technology, while passively receiving massive data and information flows every day. Whether or not these data or information flows are what we need, we are always assimilated and changed invisibly. Maybe people have not realized that the development of individuals or groups, no matter what they are, is being passively promoted. So obviously a small number of people who have mastered the core technology are doing such things. Mark Zuckerberg is one of them, and even a dangerous leader. It is precisely because of such people and organizations that most people in this world are being threatened unknowingly.
For a large part of the world, life is inseparable from the existence of social media. The first thing many people do when they wake up is to take out their mobile phones or computers and receive information through social media. Undoubtedly, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and its first message they see is not necessarily a greeting from friends. It may also be a McDonald’s advertisement that guesses that you are desperate for breakfast. Many people feel amazing, even considerate, because this seems to be what they need. The next thing may be to follow the ad recommendation and enjoy it. This function is a product of something called algorithm. Foer clearly states what is the algorithm，“That was the point of his language: Knowledge, all knowledge, could ultimately be derived from computation. It would be an effortless process, cogitatio caeca or blind thought. Humans were no longer even needed to conceive new ideas. A machine could do that, by combining and dividing concepts.”（109）As early as the 17th century, Europe was still in the Baroque period. When people were crazy about art, a man with great wisdom in multiple fields at the same time, Leibniz, had proposed the concept of algorithms, and even acted on this concept. This genius has the same spirit as Zuckerberg. More and more things and jobs can be replaced by machines and artificial intelligence. This may be the consensus of geniuses separated by hundreds of years. We have to admit that people’s lives have become more convenient under this factor. But everything is a double-edged sword. Have we thought about the algorithms behind Facebook and are they making us as human beings the most special point-creativity, weakening? Although the algorithm has appeared in the past few centuries, perhaps its starting point is good for all human beings. But when the few people or organizations that control it use its methods or become no longer pure for their own benefit, people should reflect on whether our thinking is being interfered with.
People should be wary of such a company and leader. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook’s behavior is a threat to people’s thinking in the future, which is foreseeable. Facebook has been pervasive in life, and wherever the Internet and humans exist, it is affected and even controlled at some level. It is not a simple communication tool considered by people. We are influenced, changed and even dominated by social media. Some changes are invisible. Foer claims, “With the looming threat that our embarrassing information will be broadcast, we’ll behave better. And perhaps the ubiquity of incriminating photos and damning revelations will prod us to become more tolerant of one another’s sins.”(105-106) But is this in line with the existing moral standards of our human beings?
Tolerance is positive most of the time. However, this does not mean that after being discovered, you can comfort yourself by forgiving others. If a criminal, or a person with a high probability of committing a crime, is “tolerated” on social media full of uncertainty, I believe this will only make these people worse. Facebook collects our personal information and uses algorithms to try to regulate people’s ethics and behavior. This is the idea deep inside Zuckerberg. The current situation is that Facebook holds a large amount of user data, and at the same time uses its own ‘unique’ algorithm to grasp the dirty and ugly side of some people, as well as the weakness of human. They can achieve any purpose by these means . As a person who has a strong admiration for hackers and also has unimaginable wealth, he has the ability to change humankind. Any country in this world is ruled by the government. Then Facebook is like a revolutionary version of government, decentralized, legal, and cannot be removed.
Facebook hides his thoughts very cunningly. The restless man violated campus rules and authority as early as college. Foer writes, “The point is that Facebook has a strong, paternalistic view on what’s best for you, and it’s trying to transport you there.”(106).Under the powerful function of the algorithm, Facebook’s behavior towards users is similar to that of parents. Parents do not persecute, but children often follow their parents’ opinions. It uses algorithms to use the form of moral panic to change people’s thinking. There are lots of examples that because of the moral panic, people loss or hurt their own legal, right benefits. This is one of the ways that algorithms virtually harm people. When we use Facebook, there is a donation advertisement for a nonprofit fund organization. Maybe at first the users simply wanted to understand the background of the organization and didn’t think too much. However, the algorithm analyzes the user’s personality and life, screens out some softhearted people, and then uses some words and slogans to make users donate because of moral. Even the living conditions of these donors are not very good. However, the original intention of these users is simply curious. It’s not that donating is a bad thing, but no one is obliged to do it. For every individual in this world, everyone has the right to choose, and each choice should not change their minds because of non-existing condemnation.
Algorithms not only drive us through our thinking to do things that are not subjective, but also threaten people in other ways. Foer Writes, “It has bragged about how it increased voter turnout (and organ donation) by subtly ramping up the social pressures that compel virtuous behavior.”(113) I don’t know how Facebook made such remarks, and they refreshed my personal perception. When a voluntary thing is controlled by means to achieve the interests of certain groups, is this the so-called ‘subtly ramping up the social pressures that compel virtuous behavior.’? Political stance and organ donation are two very serious and important topics in life. People have the right to decide their own political positions and organ donations. But some people may not be so determined, and this can be changed through algorithms. Algorithms can put a politician on the stage of history. Facebook can push to voters with some one-sided information. No party is 100% clean. Negative information must be objective. Perhaps such a push would cause voters to change their decisions. Organ donation is a very private and voluntary option for a person. For people with religious beliefs, conservative parents, and some cultural practices, their organ donation is not necessarily positive. The algorithm can also achieve similar effects to voting through analysis.
As algorithms develop, we become more and more accustomed to the convenience that algorithms bring to us. This is a red flag and we need to think. Human beings are the most intelligent beings in the currently known creatures. Born as a person, independent thinking is our most unique ability. It was human beings who carried out the industrial revolution and technological revolution; it was humans who invented electronic components, the Internet and artificial intelligence. Unconsciously, technology has reached a very developed level. As we explore the future, we haven’t thought too much about whether the current moral standards can drive more advanced technology. In my opinion, therefore there are people like Zuckerberg and companies like Facebook trying to change the world with their own values and interests.
The existence of the algorithm itself is not wrong, it is just a formula, an invention. But the people or organizations that use it have changed it. Foer writes, ‘The problem is that when we outsource thinking to machines, we are really outsourcing thinking to the organizations that run the machines. (P111) If human thinking can be replaced by machines, it means that we have lost our greatest qualities as human beings. There is no difference between humans and the walking dead who don’t think on their own. Machines are always machines. Maybe machines can create attractive works of art, but such works lack soul. The algorithm cannot analyze how Beethoven stubbornly resists the injustice and suffering of life to create masterpiece. There is not only one ‘Zuckerberg’ in the world. When we face a suggestion made by ‘Facebook’, we should think rationally. Is this kind of suggestion really what we want instead of accepting it passively.