The big social media news is that Facebook is going Meta and metaverse. Will it improve things for the Facebook crowd or make things worse?
Now we’re going to have a new type of media which is immersive and allows all kinds of cool things. Be anywhere anytime doing anything, almost in person. Futurati have been dreaming of this for ages.
First the good news. Yep, it’s going to do a lot of that. In the process it’s going to shed light on what consciousness really is.
Why does that matter? Because that’s going to open up new approaches to AI and make AI better, probably in dramatic ways. That takes us a long way towards the Singularity. To the extent that the Big S is actually useful, we’re going to get a lot more use and insight out of it. If the Big S takes us to the Big D – dystopia – then things get worse. Read on.
What are the human implications of all this insight? Social media purports to tell us what people are thinking so that we get better communication. But a lot of the time, it doesn’t tell us that at all. It tells us what people want to think but doesn’t actually lift the veil. In the process communication actually gets worse, as has been amply demonstrated in the past few years.
Remember Carl Jung, the psychoanalyst. His lodestone was the collective unconscious, those common memes that sit below the surface unseen but constantly operative. The metaverse should properly be seen as the first real incarnation of Jung’s collective unconscious. It will show us what the bros are really thinking. That won’t be good. Likely as not it will inflame the culture wars, not assuage them.
Remember Freud’s superego and Id? Currently social media is really our collective superego, what we would like to be when we grow up, but rarely do. It’s what we think we should all be doing to make the world a better place. Nice but unrealistically Utopian.
The collective unconscious also shows us the ego. That’s what we all want to get out of the metaverse. That’s what we acknowledge we all want.
But the nasty part as we know is the Id. The metaverse is going to delve deep into our individual and collective Ids. That’s not going to be pretty.
The metaverse is going to collect data at a neural level via direct links (e.g., Neuralink), analyzing brain patterns (MRI, algorithms, eyes tracking data, body motion data, data from the skin (Fitbit etc.) and so on. All the sensory data we now collect in individual buckets will be collected, collated, analyzed, evaluated and patterns inferred which will dig deeply into our id and egos and compare it (very unfavorably) against the superego.
We are moving from the social media to neural media, from the superego to the ego and id. The coming Singularity is not just – merely – about intelligence but about desires and wants shared in real time, no matter how terrible or dystopian the content. And that’s just the beginning.
All of this of course will be hacked. Who needs gumshoes to collect any sensitive or delicate information on a target when they can more easily get into the inner interstices of his ego and id? What about collective ids on certain racial, sexual groups – minorities or majorities. Neural media implies a quantum jump in the ability to collect sensitive information on anyone, individually or collectively.
Even that’s just the start. Once I have this information, I can use it for my own purposes which might not be good. I now have uniquely sensitive data I can use to manipulate the cognition and behavior of individuals, teams and groups, social, economic political, you name it. Has Facebook/Meta thought about that angle at all?
The Facebook/Meta PR repeatedly emphasizes the immersive nature of the metaverse. Immersive really means that our brains get penetrated and possibly taken over. Neural Media 1 is analysis and evaluation of the id. Take 2 of the new neural media is taking over brains. What about kids? Vulnerable teen girls? Those with mental health problems? How do you handle all of that?
Neural media will inflame the culture wars and conflicts of all types – within groups, between countries, within economic and political factions. It will be injected into elections. It will impact education, beliefs, ideologies, and eventually the most basic rules of human interaction. It will affect what we think is right but to its detriment. Once you know about the id, honesty, fair play and ethics take on a totally different cast. That’s where were going with the metaverse.
In the world of the new neural media, nothing is off the table. If it’s possible, people will do it. Now they will have tools that hitherto were thought to be impossible or just unconscionable. So, they will all be practicable and acceptable. Dysfunction will be purely a statistical concept; who is doing it and is it a possible majority.
In the past we judged dystopian by the extent to which it limits our ability to open up to different ideas and ways of thinking. Authoritarian regimes are taken to be at one end of the spectrum and democracy at the other.
But neural media turns things on their head. With neural media every democracy is an authoritarian regime because it’s now inside our heads. “1984” then at that time was the epitome of the dystopia. Now it seems like the high point.
With the neural media there is no bottom.
“1984”, neural media, Jung, Freud, collective unconscious
Facebook/Meta heralds the emergence of neural media. This can tap the dystopian directions of the collective unconscious.
How about your id being public?