Companies have a vested interest in making people forget just who the intimate relationship is with. When you talk to Henry the robot, you’re really talking to Realbotix’s design team, a handful of men sitting in a California warehouse. When people send thirst tweets to Lil Miquela or Hatsune Miku, they’re really flirting with Brud or Crypton Future Media. Someday soon, you might be having sex with Google.
Perhaps the time had come to let the algorithm treat the rest of us like babies, too. Maybe it knows more about what we like than we do. Maybe it knows that if it can capture our attention for long enough it won’t have to ask us what we like anymore. It will have already decided.
The algorithm gives us whatever pleases us, and we, in turn, give the algorithm whatever pleases it. As the circle tightens, we become less and less able to separate algorithmic interests from our own.
On YouTube and Twitter and Instagram, recommendation algorithms have been making us feel individually catered to while bending our selfhood into profitable shapes