In an influential 2003 essay, philosopher Nick Bostrom explored the ethical implications of developing a “superintelligence”, that is, an “intellect that is vastly outperforms the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom, and social skills.” He argued that any such intelligence should be given “philanthropic values”, and designed to be ultimately motivated with improving human lives. Without such a “supergoal of philanthropy”, a superintelligence could be dangerous.
I have mostly stopped using Facebook. I’ve only made two posts to my own timeline since the beginning of the year, and one was to update my bio with a message explaining that I’ve stopped using Facebook (which I will probably edit to include a link to this post). I’m not a “Facebook vegan”: I still log in (occasionally) and comment or like others’ posts (even less occasionally). I also occasionally make posts for various organizations with which I’m involved (but I post them to those organizations’ pages).
As you may know, there was a recent campaign by activists to pressure Facebook to remove misogynistic, in some cases graphic, posts glorifying rape and domestic violence. (If you can stomach it, Buzzfeed has some screen shots of the misogynistic posts.) Part of the motivation of this campaign was to highlight Facebook’s ridiculous standards: Facebook had been slow to remove the misogynistic posts, in some cases saying they weren’t hate speech, while removing some pictures that featured breastfeeding, on the basis that the breastfeeding pictures violated Facebook’s prohibitions on nudity.
Every once so often, I get sucked into a political argument on Facebook. Sometimes someone will post one of those “share this if you agree” pictures, and I don’t agree with it. Sometimes one of my liberal friends’ conservative friends will make a comment, and because (I’m not proud to admit) I sometimes suffer from the tendency illustrated by xkcd #386, I will feel moved to respond. Every one of these encounters has left me increasingly convinced that Facebook is not a good forum for political arguments. I’ve identified two reasons:
- The way Facebook displays comments is poorly suited for discussion.
- People who post political content don’t necessarily want to spark a discussion, and it’s hard to tell.
Except: when I click on a link on the Eff Bee to an article and I’m asked to add an app to follow the link, I don’t Google for the article—I refuse to read it at all. I refuse to reward antisocial behavior.