Mark Zuckerberg has issued a public reply to President Trump in response to accusations Facebook has always been against his policies, noting that he must be doing something right when he is criticized by all sides.
This is a feeble response from a company that dismissed as “crazy” the idea it influenced the outcome of the US presidential elections. As more than one commentator pointed out at the time, Facebook cannot claim to have made the world a better place by helping the Arab Spring and then deny its impact on another event much closer to home. We now know that there was a whole strategy financed and carried out by a foreign government to flood the social networks with incendiary messages aimed at provoking confrontation and that seems to have played an important role in the final result.
Zuckerberg’s apologies do nothing to mitigate Facebook’s naiveté and overconfidence in human nature, which is shared by way too many in the tech sector. The investigation into the biggest theft of personal information ever, the Equifax database, which has put millions of Americans at risk of identity theft, suggest the involvement of a foreign government in the incident, taking it from a security incident of enormous proportions due to disastrous policies by the company, to a deliberate bid to destabilize the United States.
There are other examples of naivety and overconfidence closer to our own homes: one of the fastest growing technologies in recent times, domestic voice assistants, led by Amazon, can carry out any number of tasks, including interaction with all kinds of devices, as well as business transactions, but are not yet able to identify voices so that they only do what their legitimate owner tells them. Hasn’t it occurred to anyone that this could be a source of problems? What makes the people who create these new technological products that human nature will not lead to them being misused, either by idiotic advertisers annoying us via our television set, or neighbors who can open the smart lock on our front door just by yelling a command to our voice assistant from outside?
We do not have a technology problem, we have a human nature problem. Technology has a big problem with naiveté. And resolving it without slowing down progress is not going to be an easy task.
(En español, aquí)