They didn’t start with Trump, and they won’t end with him.
.. It is comforting to think that Trump is the only thing standing between us and the good old dysfunctional ways of Washington. But I have my doubts. The president’s disruption engine is powered by three paradoxes. Each was made possible by technological innovations. All will endure long after this ringmaster moves his circus to another town.
Paradox #1: More information, less credibility
Today Google processes 61,000 search queries a second. That’s 5.2 billion queries a day.
.. Because the barriers to entry are so low. In the Middle Ages, when paper was a sign of wealth and books were locked up in monasteries, knowledge was considered valuable and creating it was costly.
.. We now live at the opposite extreme, where anyone—from foreign adversaries to any crackpot with a conspiracy theory—can post original “research” online.
.. Last month, a Pew survey found that for the first time, a majority of Republicans had a negative view of American universities.
Paradox #2: More connectivity, less civility
Today nearly half the world is online. By 2020 more people are expected to have cell phones than running water.
Paradox #3: The wisdom of crowds, the duplicity of crowds
Technology has unleashed the wisdom of crowds. Now you can find an app harnessing the experiences and ratings of likeminded users for just about anything. The best taco truck in Los Angeles? Yelp. The highest rated puppy crate? Amazon. Youth hostels in Barcelona? TripAdvisor
.. But the 2016 presidential election revealed that not all crowds are wise, or even real. The wisdom of crowds can be transformed into the duplicity of crowds. Deception is going viral.
.. On social media, one person can masquerade as hundreds, even thousands, with fake personas. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, it’s also possible to create armies of automated social media bots to develop, manipulate, and spread deceptive information at speeds and scales unimaginable before now.