The sanctity of the internet never existed.
As researchers, journalists and truth to power “self-proclaimed” do gooders look back at the Westworld-like maze that is Pizzagate. It exposes the very dark depths of the internet in which an unsuspecting public didn’t seem to know was always there. The dark web where talk of conspiracies, the Silk Road, and child pornography are all too common wasn’t part of the deep dark trenches of the internet like we all led ourselves to believe. It was a lot closer than we thought.
The very fact that the internet is full of stupid pointless arguments, misleading memes, and cat videos has never seemed to reach public awareness until now. Sure it was joked about, but it was never seen as a problem. It didn’t help matters when advocates liked to paint us the picture that the Internet is a flowing stream of human consciousness full of great ideas ripe for enlightenment. HA! Yeah Right.
Like the fact that everyone watches porn but no one talks about it, this issue is a new one that we haven’t heard the last of. Linked to Donald Trump’s win, the President-Elect is a frequent peddler of such stuff and whether he believes it or not is not the point here. The heightened state of paranoia that exists on the internet is now shown in a whole new light and everyone is freaking out. Yes, no matter how innocent it may seem, it has to be said, that this stuff may have to be regulated much better than it has been.
Ever since it’s formation in 2003 I’ve considered 4chan to be the trashcan or toilet of the internet. It’s worse than the front pages of the Drudge Report and Reddit combined, complete with a healthy dosage of Infowars trolling activity and that is basically all you need to know about how Pizzagate became headline news.
Like a real-life Black Mirror episode, Edgar Welch decided to take it upon himself to investigate the Pizzagate theory that had been floating around the internet for some weeks. It’s a tantalizing work of collaborative fiction that linked everything from Stephen Colbert to Kanye West to a DC Pizza joint that supposedly held a child sex ring headed up by who else but Hillary Clinton and her campaign. Complete with a Dan Brown-esque labyrinth of underground tunnels linking nearby stores to a non-existent basement in Comet Ping Pong. You can’t make this stuff up, but in fact it was. It all was! So, if we thought 2016 couldn’t bring us anymore surprises, you’d be dead wrong.
Now, a report from the Washington Post says that a large number of the Pizzagate spread came from bots. Basically automated tweeters. The future of bots are in question as they continue blending fact with fiction into some real life consequences. From those innocent but misleading minion memes to bots that tweet out fake news, it makes one wonder about the metaphysical aspects of all this.
Is pizzagate just the realization that the internet is full of this crap and it’s always been there? Or is Pizzagate the latest development in something much more scary? Consider that if it weren’t for those bots, pizzagate might not have went as far as it did. It was not 100% people spreading that paranoia, part of it was spread by bots. And that’s the key. Making this a type of mixed-artificial stupidity. Think about it like mixed reality, or augmented reality. Where you can literally see things through the glasses that aren’t there. Are we entering into a new phase of mixed artificial intelligence? Where “intelligence” is spread by bots propped up as facts and legitimized as real? If you look at the posts posted by conspiracy theorists you can often see how enlightened they feel by hearing “new stuff” that “they never heard before, because of people not wanting them to know about it.” It was all over pizzagate.
We lovers of science fiction tend to think that Artificial Intelligent beings will be better and smarter than us, what if that’s not the case? These early moves into this new type of first world problem does not bode well for the future of technology, politics, or open source software. As a species I would argue that we are at the crossroads of Idiocracy and the Singularity, and I would argue that we are already there. It looks pretty doesn’t it?
As we enter into the age of artificial stupidity, this may be a key moment, in it’s history and I’m not sure there’s anything we can do to stop it.