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The “Attention Singularity” and cultural psychosis

By May 19, 2016No Comments

Have you ever wondered what a culture’s collective psychosis feels like? I think this is it. I think that’s what we’re going through now

The Singularity is already here, Our consciousnesses have been uploaded to the cloud via social media as our world is now governed by invisible automated systems – and we’ve only just noticed, and by noticing have stared into the abyss.

We respond by screaming at each other about a presidential election that makes less sense than the plot of a Saturday morning kids cartoon. We don’t really believe this can possibly be happening, but we’re afraid to laugh and we can’t get away and nothing we do changes anything. We vacillate between learned helplessness and explosive rage but we’re afraid to disconnect because we might miss something.

Much in the same way that automation has made stock trading so fast that no human can keep up, and sends so much data flying around the world that no one can possibly keep track, we’ve surely reached a point where a kind of cultural/technical automation has made politics impossible to process any longer – and trying to only makes you dizzy. Staring into it leads to brain damage. Our puny brains are not able to process constant exposure to sustained levels of outrage. Only the machines can, and we’ve designed our AIs to broadcast it to us constantly.

No, I don’t mean any of this literally. But what else would a culture’s collective psychosis feel like?