Copernicus, Twitter, And A Guy Named Elon
The high priests of today’s social orthodoxy are unsettled.
According to Elon Musk, Twitter is a platform that can facilitate billions of “bidirectional interactions” every day, bringing together people from all around the world to share ideas and build a “cybernetic super-intelligence.”
Ok, take a breath. I think he’s on to something.
Once we shift away from the political banter and dystopia perspectives, we can see that this potential power stems from Twitter’s ability to gather and analyze massive amounts of data in real-time, allowing it to detect emerging trends and patterns that can drive our collective understanding of the world forward. It’s the quintessential hive mind — a collective intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals. In other words, it’s a group of people or things working together to achieve a common goal. Okay, it’s warmed over social media banter that has driven more controversy and manipulation that any level of unity. But there’s still the opportunity to let the guy who lands solid rocket boosters on a barge like ballet dancers to have a chance. Maybe even more that just one chance.
Twitter has the potential to be the ultimate hive mind, allowing billions of people to share and analyze information in real time. This could lead to a super-intelligence that provides, in Musk’s own words:
Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated…
Elon Musk has been one of the most outspoken proponents of leveraging technology to support and advance humanity, calling for increased investment in artificial intelligence research as a means of ensuring that we develop technologies that serve humanity rather than threaten it. He recognizes the potential for Twitter to harness “the hive” for the benefit of all, through its role in driving progress in areas like machine learning and data analytics.
Some have raised concerns that Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter could give him too much control over the platform and its ability to facilitate “billions of bidirectional interactions.” And some may argue that the town square dynamic just leads to increased tribalism or even the “dystopic character of the village square…attributed to the sophists’ alluring oratory skills.” The arguments are valid, But the big bang of Twitter’s next iteration still smolders in a crucible of conflict and discovery.
Whether we are creating sophisticated algorithms to analyze Twitter data, or using Twitter to crowdsource solutions to pressing global problems, the power of Twitter lies in its ability to facilitate conversations between people from all walks of life. And as our world becomes increasingly interconnected and complex, Twitter may continue to play an essential role in shaping our global “cybernetic super-intelligence” for years to come.
Blasphemy comes in many sizes, shapes, and tweets these day. And the indictments are swift to follow. But as Copernicus, the Renaissance polymath taught us, the orthodoxy can be very wrong.