Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

This post looks at Sinan Aral's recently published book The Hype Machine. It offers a perspective you've probably seen before, "a view of the world in which society is essentially a gigantic information processor, moving ideas, concepts, and opinions from person to person, like neurons in the brain or nodes in a neural network, firing synapses at each node in the form of decisions and behaviors." Arai describes the mechanisms of this social neural network as 'the hype machine': "digital social network is the substrate at the core of the machine," machine intelligence is "the process that controls what information flows over the network," and "smartphones are the medium, the key input/output devices." I think this is too narrow a perspective; the whole interactive network is the substrate, machine and human intelligence send signals (not information) to each other, and all of human society is the medium. Why would it be anything else?

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Oct 01, 2023 02:05 a.m.

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