The field of Artificial Intelligence has always been a gold mine for science fiction writers, because of the sheer amount and magnitude of possibilities. A machine that can think and analyze like a man opens up many avenues of creativity. This is why there is a bulk of science fiction surrounding Artificial Intelligence, especially machines taking over the world. From I, Robot to Terminator, the genre has been an appealing combination of Science Fiction, Action, and Horror.
However, AI might have already begun its “Global Takeover.” And the reality is not as grim as superhuman robot assassins or lethal machines. AI has inserted itself into the lives of the common man quite seamlessly. From home appliances and mobile phones to the websites we visit and the social media we use, AI is omnipresent. And it is also influencing mass psychology, or rather, people are using AI to control the public.
The 2016 US Presidential Elections
The election of the United States President is an event that the whole world looks forward to. The US is currently the most powerful country on Earth, and its President is the leader of the Free World and the most powerful man on Earth. Therefore, the kind of leader elected in the US influences Global Politics, International Relations, Trade and so on.
The 2016 US Presidential Elections saw the rise of an implausible candidate, Donald Trump. Trump became the Republican Candidate, beating many veteran politicians and the odds themselves. He also beat Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and a familiar face in the US Politics scene to become the 45th President. The methods and the slogans used by the Trump Campaign may seem unsavoury, but there’s no denying how he handled the power of Technology to its fullest extent.
AI and the Victory of Trump
Donald Trump used every tool at his disposal to win the election, and AI was one of them. Cambridge Analytica is a data analytics firm which has Steve Bannon as one of its Board of Directors member. The firm spearheaded an extensive campaign strategy that targeted individuals based on their psychology and political stand.
Highly Personalised Advertising was made possible using AI-powered Data Analytics, that assessed the searches and other online activity of an individual. The advertisements were then based on points, policies and issues that would influence the targeted user the most. For these ads, cherry-picked parts of the Trump Campaign regarding these sensitive issues could be used.
Regardless of the ethical implications of this strategy, the effectiveness of using AI to influence public opinion is undeniable. The approval of the masses was won by targeting the individual and addressing the issues that would surely get their attention.
The Nationalist Tsunami
This move by the Trump Campaign had global consequences as well. The power of AI to assess the pulse of the community by studying each member was seen through this event. This set off a chain reaction, which benefitted political parties, especially right-wing nationalist parties all over the globe.
Targeted Advertising and Artificial Intelligence
Whether it’s selling a product or winning an election, marketing is an integral part of success. Therefore, the right marketing tools have always been in demand. AI, however, is more powerful than any marketing tool that the world has ever seen.
It is a fact that the news we watch influence the opinions we have on things. People tend to gravitate towards news that conforms to or agrees with their ideology. Therefore, ads that take advantage of this conformational bias influence people more.
The kind of content that people view online helps to understand their preferences, opinions and ideological standpoint. The articles that a liberal individual read are not the same as that of a conservative. Targeted advertising takes advantage of this bias by showing individuals ads about things they have a high chance of being interested in.
This is a form of using AI to control the narrative and gain public support. AI is useful, as its processing capabilities help to analyze a large number of individuals and automatically find content appealing to them. This was used effectively by the Trump Campaign to consolidate and gain votes en masse from the white conservatives.
AI might not have evil robots and oppressive regimes, but it has sure taken over. The lack of a dystopian world is made up for by the amount of content AI puts out to influence the public narrative. The machines are already controlling us, in a milder, less grim manner.