Think of the date March 3, 2023.
It may just be another Friday on the calendar, but it’s actually the day a well-known social media company announced its own demise. It’s also the beginning of the end for all social media.
That’s right, on March 3, LinkedIn announced a new concept for “collaborative articles” that (if you follow AI trends and know how these things usually evolve) seems harmless enough at first. Before it was – a voicebot will always be available in your house or a robot car will drive you to work. In the announcement, LinkedIn mentioned this innocuous phrase: “These articles start out as AI-powered conversation starters developed with our editorial team.”
What is really happening here? My guess is that LinkedIn uses AI to scan their own platform (what they claim is “10 billion years of professional experience”) to generate AI-created content. As humans, we will respond to these posts because they are tailored to elicit response and debate. How these posts are flagged is still unknown. What is clear is that there will be a wealth of AI-enabled content designed to encourage more engagement.
One report called this semi-automated social media. I tend to have a darker perspective. I recently wrote about how an AI chatbot posts on Twitter and that the commenters are often a little confused as to whether or not the account is run by a real human. It’s a strange development. I am in favor of AI helping us in our work. I’m not in favor of people thinking that human-made content was actually invented by an AI, mostly because it means the overall experience diminishes from post to post. I’ve been experiencing a lot more LinkedIn spam lately, to the point where I hardly read direct messages anymore. The last thing I need is AI spam.
The question is where all this will lead. Once the AI starts controlling the algorithm and posting content to lure us into further discussion, it’s only a matter of time before more and more accounts do appear being a human (with an AI-generated face and a fake location) are beginning to invade these networks and ruin the experience for all of us.
Imagine how that could work.
On a typical day, you might log into LinkedIn or Facebook and scroll through your feed. You will see many comments and lively discussions. But it’s all a trick. The social media platform has enabled and even enabled the AI accounts to create the discussions (and comments) and they are geared towards you – your interests and inclinations. The chats will always look appealing because the social media networks know what you like and what you usually follow.
On Instagram and TikTok, bots know which photos and videos you like the most, but without the human element, it all becomes just a way to grab your attention even more and keep you hooked to the apps longer by showing you ads are also tailored to your interests. Lest this all sound too grim, but think of The Matrix and the moment Neo realized he was (spoiler alert for the five people who don’t know) nothing more than a battery in a tube.
When we’re all surrounded by AI bots acting like humans, viewing content not generated by humans, and viewing ads powered by algorithms, it’s going to feel a lot like The Matrix. None of this will seem real. And then one of them will have value.
With apologies to Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, this could be the case if we reach behind our neck and pull the cord out. It could be that social media is finally losing its grip on us and we realize that it was all there to tie us to their promotional formulas after all. I hope we wake up before this nightmare hits.