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‘The Social Dilemma’ and the Five Books that feature in the Documentary

The Social Dilemma reiterates the fears about the impact of social media that many critics have harbored for years.

From invading privacy to causing distractions, social networking sites and apps present a quagmire of contortions for both users and policy-makers.

The lesson is simple. Be skeptical of what pops up on your screen. Don’t fall for what you see or read.

Become super alert when the platform starts throwing at you the pictures and videos that mimic your preferences.

This should be a red flag because it means that your online behavior is being closely tracked. Your social platform, with its attention-gleaning algorithms, is hard at work and profiling your deep-seated inclinations.

The documentary used the catchline “The technology that connects us also controls us” in one of its promotional posters. I believe it is an apt reflection of what these manipulative technologies have come to unleash on largely unsuspecting users.

What sets The Social Dilemma a notch above others is that it features inventors who landed us in the situation we are in today.

So you have an ensemble cast of tech honchos from companies such as Google, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others.

These prodigies decode for the audience the addictive nature of the social networking apps and how the objective is not only to engage you but to also keep you engaged at the expense of everything else.

To acquaint the audience with the nefarious side of social media, the documentary-makers roped in five famous authors-cum-social-media-critics who’d had exposure to the inside workings of the Silicon Valley.

I though it was only appropriate to discuss the works of these authors who weigh against the unscrupulous tech giants in The Social Dilemma:

#1. Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil

Weapons of Math Destruction - The Social Dilemma

Weapons of Math Destruction reviews, in an accessible, non-technical way, what makes mathematical models effective. The emphasis, as you might guess from the title, is on models with problems. 

Another fascinating section is on how our online behavior is monitored, which changes not only the ads we see but the very news. 

In short, this is an excellent albeit very high-level overview of the most pressing techno-moral issues at the core of advancements in Machine Learning and AI.

#2. Ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now by Jaron Lanier

Ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts - The Social Dilemma

As one of the early internet tech pioneers and founding father of virtual reality, Lanier is more than qualified to layout the 10 arguments against social networks. His arguments are well articulated and based on logic and fact.

Unfortunately, the addicted will not want to hear his warnings for they undermine their craving.

The effects of social media are cruel, and dangerous, particularly for the young, involving subconscious manipulation. 

#3. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

This book is about the darkening of the digital dream and its rapid mutation into a voracious and utterly novel commercial project that I call surveillance capitalism.” – Shoshana Zuboff

In her book, she examines several major organizations such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

These organizations are in various stages of developing technologically advanced and increasingly inescapable surveillance operations. 

#4. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

The Righteous Mind

A clear and thought provoking book.

The moot point of the book to me is to demonstrate that morality has a social purpose, as the foundation on which social capital is constructed.

Haidt’s understanding of human morality and the science of communication and decision making are weaved together into an approachable, beautiful, and potentially life-changing symphony.

#5. Automating Humanity by Joe Toscano

Automating Humanity - The Social Dilemma

Automating Humanity is an insider’s perspective on everything Big Tech doesn’t want the public to know.

This book sheds light on the inter-workings of the Silicon Giants and how their data collection efforts and processes affect our privacy, consumerism and daily life, today and in the future. 

We as consumers have a right to be informed and it will be our children who pay the price if something doesn’t change.

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The Social Dilemma and books that feature in the documentary

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