The Stakes of Social Media Have Never Been Higher
Sinan Aral in Conversation with Andrew Keen on
the Keen On Podcast
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Sinan Aral, author of The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health—And How We Must Adapt, discusses the architectural changes that need to be made in regard to social media companies, and what’s at risk if we choose to ignore them.
From the episode:
Andrew Keen: Imagine a world where none of this is changed, where the hype machine continues to rampantly destroy our politics, our democracy, our economics, and our personal health. What does the world look like in 20 years?
Sinan Aral: You know what really scares me, Andrew, is that if you want to know the negative destructive potential, you don’t need to look 20 years out. All you have to do is turn on your television. I mean, the last two weeks in the United States have been earth-shatteringly destructive in terms of people being shot in the streets. One group against another. Inflamed and enraged armed civilians. Two political parties at each other’s throats. Complete uncertainty as to where we’re going. You don’t need to look 20 years out. We’re living it now. And in fact, we’re going to continue to live it until we take hold of our society and really reign in this notion of extremes being essentially pushed by algorithms in ways that many of us don’t understand.
Sinan Aral is the David Austin Professor of Management, Marketing, IT, and Data Science at MIT; director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy; and head of MIT’s Social Analytics Lab. He is an active entrepreneur and venture capitalist who served as chief scientist at several startups; co-founded Manifest Capital, a VC fund that grows startups into the Hype Machine; and worked closely with Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, WeChat, and The New York Times, among other companies. He currently serves on the advisory boards of the Alan Turing Institute, the British National Institute for Data Science in London, the Centre for Responsible Media Technology and Innovation in Norway, and C6 Bank, Brazil’s first all-digital bank.