Notice anything different about Facebook today? If not, you will. Soon.
If you’re one of the “lucky” ones, you’ve seen two new features: News Feed and Mini Feed. News Feed, according to the official Facebook blog, “updates a personalized list of news stories throughout the day.” Mini-Feed is similar but centers on each individual, showing the most recent information they’ve changed or content they’ve added. Kind of like the old way, only different. I guess. There’s also a live feed located at the top of your sidebar. (EDIT: I thought the live feed went away if you closed the chat window. I was wrong.)
As is the case with any changes, there’s been a fair amount of negative reaction to the changes. Most centers on the fact that Facebook decides whose updates you’ll see as “top news.” This was also the case before today, but you could switch to “most recent.” Because you can’t be trusted to choose who you’d like to hear from most, some super-secret algorithm does it for you.
Skynet was an artificially intelligent system designed to eliminate human error in decisions about weapons deployments. Less than a month after being given control over the national arsenal, Skynet gained self-awareness. Operators were alerted to this by text posted by the system (see the above image). The system viewed attempts to shut it down as an attack and “decided our (humankind’s) fate in a millisecond: extermination.” In other words, Skynet lost its artificial mind and took control of robots and other computer systems, which carried out its campaign against humanity.
Sure, Facebook hasn’t been given control over anything as important – or dangerous – as the country’s weapons systems (yet), and it hasn’t decided to kill us all. But at the same time, I can’t help but hear echoes of Skynet’s elimination of human error and deciding our fate in a millisecond.
For now, I’ll adapt to the new feeds and eventually get used to them – just in time for the next round of changes. I doubt Facebook will revolt and lead a rise of the machines, but there’s no doubt that the goal behind it is to become a larger and larger part of our lives and make us more and more dependent on it.
What happens if/when Facebook’s artificial brain explodes is anyone’s guess. After all, it already knows everything about us, thanks to our willingness to essentially opt-in to Big Brother. So maybe I’ll start scouting remote, off-the-grid locations while stockpiling canned goods and bottled water (a few at a time so Facebook won’t know I’m doing it). Just in case.
Better safe than exterminated.(Image courtesy of goingfaster.com)