My nephew celebrated his sixth birthday a few days back. I still remember the day he was born – a 19-inch long human. On his second birthday, he grew to 26 inches. Impressive growth, but also scary.
If he kept his growth trajectory, he would have been 60 inches on his third birthday. A five-foot toddler!
Nope. That didn’t happen. We have a first-hand experience of how growth works. It continues to follow an upward trend but stabilizes after a point. The intuition of a straight line growth curve is obviously wrong in this case. But what about things we don’t understand?
I was watching last year’s Social Dilemma on Netflix. And it was scary to know how we are just lab rats who aren’t part of any experiment for a better cause. We saw how the tech giants use scientific A/B testing (I would also like to add synthetic monitoring) to cajole our thoughts for vested commercial interests. Everything seems pernicious. And we don’t fully understand the hoary world of web.
We humans with our automatic visual forecasting skills assume that the straight line in a graph will continue its upward trend, that things will just go bad — increased polarization, a lost social fabric, heightened cultural differences, effortless execution of conspiracy narratives, and so on.
I beg to differ. Like my nephew’s height, not everything follows an increasing straight-line growth. People today are aware of their social intake. We are having conversations on the pervasive nature of these tech platforms. Eventually, regulations would be put in place. Facts would replace fake news. My optimism is not a naive disposition. It is based on reason. And my reasons are substantiated with statistics.