Social Media Has Failed Its Self-Driving Test

Leonid Bershidsky:

The big problem with artificial intelligence right now isn’t that it’s taking over; it’s that it’s being entrusted with serious tasks with real-world consequences before it works properly. It’s the equivalent of letting self-driving cars operate in a city without lane markings.

A viral post published on Medium on Monday by artist James Bridle is the latest case in point. Bridle took a deep dive into a below-the-radar industry: children’s content on YouTube. Anyone who has ever given an iPad to a small kid knows the kind of thing children find on YouTube before they’re able to type: Toy unboxing and nursery rhyme videos, official and pirated cartoons featuring popular characters like Peppa Pig. It’s up to parents, of course, if they are okay with their child getting engrossed in these (we took the iPad away from our four-year-old daughter because we noticed consuming the content made her reluctant to learn to read and irritable when the tablet wasn’t within reach). But the stuff Bridle found was arguably worse than what I’d seen before my wife and I made the decision.