- Facebook’s Blueprint for Taking over the “Social Infrastructure”
- Three Takeaways for Investors
The letter sent out yesterday by Facebook supremo Mark Zuckerberg is a fascinating and dystopian document that has a number of key takeaways for investors.
On first read, the letter is an acknowledgement of Facebook’s part in fanning the flames of fake news and extremism during the political turmoil of the last year.
Zuckerberg seems to be making a political stand (at a time in which there are gathering headwinds for Facebook, which is blocked in China, stumbling in India and facing a thicket of regulatory problems in Europe, and the US in the wake of US election).
He makes clear that among other things Facebook is far from politically neutral and makes implicit that it is to become a fighter against terrorism and anti-globalism…
That he is determined to find ways to encourage the formation of right minded communities, even down to the granular level of steering people to ‘talk more to local politicians.’
Placing all his faith in AI
“In times like these”, says Zuckerberg, “the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us …”
How he will achieve this?
“One of our greatest opportunities to keep people safe is building artificial intelligence to understand more quickly and accurately what is happening across our community.”
And so the company will drive to develop a sort of “bad behaviour AI” that “can read and understand news” by looking at news text, photos and video to “flag content our team can review.”
This AI will be used to spot terrorists.
It will be used to spot propaganda.
It will be used to prevent bullying and suicides in right mind communities, directing people to keep sharing content, especially emotive content that boosts Facebook’s key mission: hyperactive communication on a platform that hopes to be the one and only portal for media content.
What’s really driving Zuckerberg
Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed a creeping takeover of society key sectors by the large major tech giants, in the US, in the UK and especially in China.
They have used their vastly superior computing resources and AI to move into advertising, media, car manufacturing, retail, hardware, healthcare, agriculture…it’s an across the board modernisation effort.
These exercises in serial monopoly are the brain children and obsessions of their controlling parents – Zuckerberg, Page, Brin and Bezos.
Each of these visionary entrepreneurs see themselves as mission control to the future: questioning everything on the fundamental assumption that the world doesn’t work well and needs them and the technologies they develop to work better.
AI is absolutely central to this project.
Zuckerberg wants to use AI to monitor our communications.
Jeff Bezos wants to install seductive AI at home, in the car at and the workplace…
Ginni Rometty and IBM want to feed us intelligence through the Cloud…
Larry Page and Sergey Brin want an all- knowing AI…
Elon Musk wants an Open AI that everyone experiments with.
In the next few years, I expect to see self learning algorithms proliferate across society, playing an increasing role in guiding our daily decisions…what we learn, who we talk to, what we buy, even how we invest.
There are three key takeaways for investors.
1. Tech Titans are girding themselves for a fight
I think we will see a series of pitched battles between the Tech Titans and the political forces that stand in the way of their big takeover.
Zuckerberg is presenting this as a fight for globalisation. But it’s really a fight for control.
And on the other side of the fence: those parties aiming to advance protectionism policies.
That includes Trump and the new political class.
And I think it includes anyone looking to protect their industry from invasion from the Tech Titans.
(In fact, I’m convinced that the next industry facing mass scale disruption is the financial industry…
This will be a comprehensive invasion of every corner of the industry, targeting banking, insurance, retail investing, fund management, venture capital…
I’ve been preparing an in depth study of this story over the past month and will reveal more over the next week).
The point is that there is a huge backlash against Tech Titans coming.
That will take the form of more regulations…tax legislation…even antitrust cases and perhaps more sinister measures to halt their progress.
2. AI is now a political tool
The Tech Titans will use AI as their main advantage.
With the biggest computing scale and the most advanced AI, the tech titans could, if unchecked, colonise almost any industry.
It can help keep millions of users in “right minded communities” inside the walled gardens of tech platforms such as Facebook.
It can help them direct and engage those users.
It can help tech titans to offer a multitude of new services and products that users want…
We are placing an enormous amount of faith in AI and those that deliver it to us…perhaps in the hope or perhaps in revulsion about human biases, corruption, meddling and flawed decision making.
It’s becoming a new mantra: clear your mind and let the algorithms take over.
3. This an ideological clash that will define the next decade
This is going to be a dirty fight.
As Carlota Perez has shown, advances in new technologies…whether it’s the railways, electricity…are marked by a chaotic transitional phase of wars, financial scandals, industrial mayhem and deep anxieties about civilisational collapse.
The railroad revolution of the nineteenth century saw a transitional period marked by social chaos, a bloody civil war in the United States, and extensive patterns of disguised change such as the rise of urban living, grocery store chains, and meat consumption with the emergence of cheap rail transport as the root cause.
We are going through one of those transitions again.
And there are two opposing forces. On one side are the protectionists: who believe in a system based on financial leverage, heft, industries working in silos, banks directing the flow of capital and holding the balance of power.
The other side are just as interested in a radical remodelling of the economy, but use computing power and Artificial Intelligence to colonise and repurpose industries.
I wouldn’t be surprised if protectionist interests took measures to damage our trust in our glorious new tech leaders.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook flogged their bad behaviour AI to the Chinese in exchange for access to those markets.
As Stalin used to say that in politics “naivety is the only sin”. And Zuckerberg and his ilk are well and truly in politics now.
I’ll speak to you again about what this means for the investment community over the coming week.
Drop me a message here if you have any queries or questions.
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