Are we living through a botapocalypse? Should we let the bots live? Or end them?
Sometimes we think we’ve seen it all, done it all, but technology is constantly evolving; there are always new things to do and understand. For example, we may be living through The Botapocalypse. What do I mean by this?
The Botapocalypse is the end of the living internet, the transition into an era where fake users and chatbots outnumber living humans online.
In 2013, data analysts at Youtube worried that there were more bots on the internet than humans, and fretted that their algorithms might start thinking the bots were real and the humans were fake because of the shifting balance. They called this problem, “Internet Inversion.” It’s also referred to as “The Dead Internet Theory.”
Well, folks, the internet is likely inverted now, with more bots/trolls online than humans and a proliferation of farms creating and running these hapless creatures. The balance shifted and no one is 100% certain as to how much. Is it 60% bots, 40% humans? Or 80/20? What if it’s 95/5? Not only did the internet invert, but the bots are better than ever, more real, and more able to target your hopes, fears, and fantasies. The corporate-created ones know everything about you and the government-created ones, um, lord knows what they’re up to.
The U.S. has bots, Russia has bots, China has bots, Saudi Arabia has bots, rich individuals have bots, and most of all, large corporations have bots. It’s likely that every functioning government is using bots.
We live and interact with digital shell-beings on a daily basis.
Is this getting too quacky for you? Hear me out.
Before the pandemic, with two friends, I was working on a short VR film script called Who Watches the Cat, about a girl who realizes that all her friends are chatbots. When Covid hit, we put the script aside, thinking with the pandemic, it would be too hard to produce, but it didn’t dawn on me then that this scenario might already be occurring.
Former employees of popular dating apps have admitted that during the onboarding of new customers, they use “like-bots” to enhance engagement. Swipe on a pretty girl, she swipes back, and you start to chat — then you want to facetime her and suddenly she ghosts you? It could be a bot; not a catfish, but a corporate-designed sexy chatbot whose function is to make you love using the app, to want more matches, to buy a premium account, etc.
Imagine the young man who is only flirting with fake women.
Imagine the older gentleman who is planning to marry a woman abroad who isn’t even real.
And it’s not just about finding love or online dating, these AI-driven bots have permeated every platform of the internet. This is why I call it, the botapocalypse.
Imagine the middle-aged woman checking her Instagram stories; she thinks she got 100 story views, but in reality, they were all from bots and not from her real friends, because she no longer has any real friends; she spends all her time chatting to bots.
Imagine the teen on Twitter debating political strategies with a group of like-minded robots.
Imagine the company that wants to boost their Youtube video to the top of your feed, so they send 15,000 bots to like the video the instant it’s uploading.
Imagine the Facebook armchair warrior battling conversant AI.
It’s all happening.
I bet there is a bot reading this post right now.
Maybe this fake internet (the Finternet) is why Mark Zuckerberg is fixated on the Metaverse, because it’s a place that’s like the internet, but the bots haven’t invaded it, yet.
Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, has vowed to end the bots reign of the social media platform. Will this be a good thing? Or a bad thing? Are we the ones who should be enacting a botapocalypse? Or are bots useful and we should keep some of them around as tools? All of these important questions will need to be considered as people, countries, and companies continue to build and run bot armies.
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*While this is not always the case, the audio version of this particular post is slightly different than the text because I ad-lib and improvise additional content.