Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

3 for £200. The world is get­ting faster and faster and, as net­work ef­fects take hold, the hive mind of hu­man­ity is pro­duc­ing a world too com­plex for any one of us to fully un­der­stand.

Now in 2017, we live in a world where new tech­nol­ogy and glob­al­i­sa­tion have lifted mil­lions out of poverty, but that net win for hu­man­ity has come at the cost of ex­pected con­tin­u­ous progress for the work­ing and mid­dle classes of the US, the UK and Europe.

As Yu­val Noah Harari put it in Homo Deus: A Brief His­tory of To­mor­row, and bend­ing truth to break­ing point in the his­tory of hu­man­ity has emerged. Given that the dig­i­tal world goes round off the back of ad dol­lars, it seems that we ought to pay at­ten­tion at this point.

His­tor­i­cally, of course, ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies have been “morally neu­tral”. Like the lady of the night from cen­tral cast­ing, we were “what­ever you want us to be, baby”. And our clients were keen for us to help them gain the broad­est pos­si­ble ap­peal. This cer­tainly made busi­ness sense in the era of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions, when ev­ery­one saw the same shows, read the same pa­pers and, of course, got ex­posed to the same ads.

That’s gone now. 2016 was the year that peo­ple be­gan to re­alise they’re in a fil­ter bub­ble. Dig­i­tal al­go­rithms choose our con­tent for us and huge earth-shak­ing events such as Brexit and Trump’s elec­tion vic­tory were able to take mil­lions of peo­ple by sur­prise be­cause the buildup was hap­pen­ing in some­one else’s bub­ble.

This is one of the ar­eas where the in­ter­net re­ally has made ev­ery­thing a bit s***. When you spend your life in a fil­ter bub­ble, where most of the con­tent you get is de­signed to make you feel good and to “like” it, you lose em­pa­thy and crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties. Along­side the im­pos­si­ble speed of change, many peo­ple’s brains have shut down, lead­ing them to be­come like self­ish tod­dlers; pure sus­pi­cious id.

In this con­text, fake news, spread by in­ter­net trolls, fu­els in­cred­i­ble anger. This is how mod­ern fas­cism has sur­prised us and it could not have hap­pened with­out the un­in­tended con­se­quences of our net­worked world.

Carl Sa­gan, in this ex­cerpt from 1995, fore­cast this mo­ment with ter­ri­fy­ing fore­sight: “Sci­ence is more than a body of knowl­edge; it is a way of think­ing. I have a fore­bod­ing of an Amer­ica in my

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