Matt Chessen

You are currently browsing articles tagged Matt Chessen.

In his latest Medium piece, Matt Chessen writes about a near-term scenario in which machine-driven communications (MADCOMS), essentially indistinguishable from human communications, will dominate social media with the aid of AI, influencing the thoughts of all those carbon beings who come into contact with it. Extrapolating this brave new world a little further, he envisions different political and cultural factions waging wars for hearts and minds via an onslaught of machine-based messaging. It will be, perhaps, like the elections of 2016 to the nth degree.

God help us all. 

Unlike other technological innovations, which usually are a mix of boon and bane, it’s hard to see much good being delivered by such a framework. The downside, of course, is enormous.

Chessen knows his vision of tomorrow is incredibly fraught, asking: “Will this be the new Renaissance, or the next Inquisition?” Almost definitely, a realization of his prediction will provoke the latter.

The opening:

We’re on the verge of a revolution — very soon, computers are going to start programming us, through ideas, culture, and eventually, our DNA.

We may have no idea this is happening to us.

To understand this, you really should start with the article “Artificial intelligence chatbots will overwhelm human speech online; the rise of MADCOMs.” There, I explain how emerging AI technologies will enable machine-driven communication tools (MADCOMs) that dynamically generate content for marketing, influence, politics, and manipulation. These MADCOMs will be running influence campaigns 24/7/365 all across the social web. But since the MADCOMs won’t be able to differentiate the human accounts from the machine-driven accounts, MADCOMs will run information ops on machines and people. The machines will talk back and run their own influence campaigns. The end result is the Internet being swamped by machines talking to other machines.

Much of this content will be dynamically generated. Sure, humans will configure the AI tools and give them objectives, but their content will evolve based on machine learning. And as they communicate and influence other machine-driven accounts, the MADCOMs behind them will evolve their content as well.

The end result could be machines becoming the driving force in our culture.

AIs are already creating news articles, novels, music and screenplays. Soon they will create memes, write jokes, drive political conversations, and promote celebrities. They will probably be jabbering away on Reddit and 4Chan, trying to convince humans that Coke is the real thing or that 9/11 was a coverup. They will be spinning all sorts of wild tales.

And in doing so, our creations will be programming us, through culture.•


Nature is a necessary evil, and humans are a mixed blessing. That’s my credo. Hopeful, huh?

Five years ago, when this blog was something other than what it is today (though I don’t really know what it is now, either), I use to run an occasional post called “5 Things About Us Future People Won’t Believe.” In these short pieces, carnivorism, internal gestation, factory work, invasive surgery and prisons were my suggestions for elements of today’s society that would brand us as “backwards” by tomorrow’s standards. I didn’t mention anything obvious like warfare because the “enlightened” of the future will still participate in such tribalism, even if the nature of the battle changes markedly. 

In a similar vein, Matt Chessen has published “The Future Called: We’re Disgusting And Barbaric,” a Backchannel piece that hits on some of same predictions I made but also has some very interesting topics I didn’t touch at all. One item:

Tolerating homes and bodies infested with critters

Right now, there are hundreds of millions of insects living on your body and in your home. Tiny dust mites inhabit your mattress, your pillow, your carpeting, and your body, regardless of how clean everything is. Microscopic demodex mites live in the follicles of your eyelashes and prowl your face at night. And this doesn’t even consider the trillions of bacteria and parasites that live inside us. Our bodies are like planets, full of life that is not us.

Future folk will be thoroughly disgusted. They will have nanotechnology antibodies — tiny machines that patrol our homes and skin, hoovering up dust mite food (our skin flakes) and exterminating the little suckers. They can’t completely eliminate all the insects and bacteria — human beings have developed a symbiosis with them; we need bacteria to do things like digest food—but the nanobots will police this flora, keeping it within healthy bounds and eliminating any micro-infestations or infections that grow out of control.

And forget about infestations by critters like cockroaches. Nanobots will exterminate larger household pests en masse. The real terminators of the future wont wreck havoc on humanity: They’ll massacre our unwanted insect houseguests.•