Why Web Browsers Are Dangerous

After reading the thousandth click-bait post about politics, I have only one conclusion:

People are idiots.

Including at times, even myself.

Will you admit you – at times – are too? If not, then you’re part of the problem. Call me a jerk, but we all have a finite limit to what we actually know, whether you acknowledge it or not.

The problem is, as Bukowski clearly stated, that idiots are full of confidence, and smart people are full of doubts.

Smart people know what they don’t know, or at least more of what they don’t know. Smart people also handle complexity, and the world is almost never as black and white enough to make good simple headlines.

And there’s the rub. Headlines.

Headlines grab attention. They get clicks. They create ad-views, and thus revenue. Increasingly, the most profitable headlines either make you angry, and thus more likely to comment, refute, flame – or they’re in the realm of confirmation bias – agreeing with your pre-existing beliefs, proving to yourself that yes, you are smart and “right” (right as in both morally superior and factually correct).

Web browsers, facebook, and search engines have the power to save us from ourselves.

Facebook won’t do it. It’s too profitable for them to not do it – they’d rather you get angry, and keep checking your rebuttal twenty times in two hours to see the flame-fest updates – creating more ad views.

Google and Chrome could, barely. It’s an interesting challenge from an AI perspective, requiring something close to general intelligence capable of finding actual data sources and correlating them back to the article or post in front of us.

For society’s sake, we need a browser that’s perfectly neutral and non-judgemental, but with the wisdom and perspective of a monk.

Without it, for economic reasons, I see nothing more even more Brexits, as people fall into polarized camps, and eventually, WWIII as beliefs are hardened through thousands of videos, articles, and friendships that reinforce whatever belief fits the user’s view.

Until we get this, check your sources. Assume everything you read is an attempt to get you to click – to make you angry, or fit your existing biases.

Twenty years ago, mass media was mostly created by professional journalists who vetted articles – cross-checked facts, cited sources, and did their best to present truth.

These days there’s more money in un-truth.

And therein lies the problem. If you spread that un-truth or half-truth, you become part of the problem, and given our schedules and barrage of media fighting for attention, even smart people end up reposting something that weakens the collective intelligence of the world, not improves it – gently polarizing the world into camps that will inevitably end up fighting.

And yet not posting anything leaves only the idiots speaking.