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Author Topic: Thoughts on the dead Internet theory?  (Read 1010 times)
Memory
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« on: June 02, 2023 @775.44 »

This has been something I've been aware of for a few years though it wasn't until the last year that I've given it any serious thought. For those who don't know, the dead Internet theory claims that since 2016-early 2017 the majority of content created and posted online was made through the use of bots, and now AI as well given its recent advancements in the last year.

When I began to look into it I found myself agreeing with some parts of it. I don't think the majority of content currently being made on the Internet is created by something other than a human, however I think it soon will be with AI's advancement over the last year. What I do agree with is that bots are everywhere. You can find them without too much effort on sites like Youtube, Reddit, Twitter, and anything else that lets people post content and comments. Outside of those sites there's also spam in the form of blogs and WordPress sites that focus on search engine optimization (SEO) spam to try and get high up on search results and the classic adult content spam. For now I don't think the Internet is dead, but rather its human created content and sites like this are being drowned out by bots trying to either astroturf or make money in one form or another.

What are your thoughts on the dead Internet theory? Do you think it's true or are we not yet there yet?
« Last Edit: June 03, 2023 @71.32 by Valeria22 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2023 @807.07 »

I think it is true, but not in the way I imagine most people think.
Most of the results I see when I try to look something up are gibberish sites made by a bot, usually spamming tags it knows people search for.

Many forums and chat sites I've seen that don't have any sort of protection against bots are usually completely overflowing with them, usually advertising porn or some other scam.

I believe most of what we see is by humans because the sites we visit have protections against them, and I imagine there is an unfathomable number of them out there, and outnumber humans.
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2023 @21.72 »

i think the internet might /feel/ dead,
but that's a very different thing to it actually /being/ dead.
without any qualitative data to back this hypothesis up:
i reckon that this line of thought, whilst valid, probably
stems from nostalgia.
i miss the 2012 web, which is my nostalgia, so i'm of the same
line of thinking: stuff since 2012 hasn't been as good.
when i pause to introspect, i realize that i'm definitely wrong.
people make creative stuff; people live off of making creative stuff.
some of my best friends are artists and musicians, and i primarily write code,
which requires just as much creativity as anything else.

same argument with bots, really.
sure, there are a bunch of programs popping up that are the result
of AI - but how many frameworks or languages can you confidently say
are the work of an AI?
similarly, whilst bots are a problem, and API abuse is not great,
there's also amazing tools like Teddit and Nitter that utilize APIs
to protect privacy.
i definitely think you're onto something with stuff being drowned out, though.
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2023 @125.57 »

i reckon that this line of thought, whilst valid, probably
stems from nostalgia.
i miss the 2012 web, which is my nostalgia, so i'm of the same
line of thinking: stuff since 2012 hasn't been as good.

Was going to say this, but at the same time, I feel like the Internet has shifted somehow to be more de-personalized. It's paradojical in a way, because back then people posted way less selfies and personal information, but in the past few weeks I've had to look at newly made blogs, youtube videos and google ads (ewww) and the sheer amount of stuff that SEEMS to be written by AI is concerning. Maybe half of the time it isn't actually written by it, but it feels like so because people prioritize content over EVERYTHING, and making something soulless fast is easier than making something heartfelt fast. 5 minutes crafts and the like are already setting up content factories, coming up with 50 videos in a day if not more, mathematically proved to be what the algorithm likes. So even if there's more original art on the internet that there's ever been, it's also easier to mass-produce worse quality content, and it feels like it drowns everything else.

Idk, I haven't reached a conclusion about anything really. I'm constantly learning more about how the "new" (content-oriented, AI-infested, numbers-obsessed) internet works, and while I'm pretty pessimistic about it, there sure are new ways to thrive in it as well.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2023 @169.64 by grovyle » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2023 @168.65 »

Was going to say this, but at the same time, I feel like the Internet has shifted somehow to be more de-personalized. It's paradojical in a way, because back then people posted way more selfies and personal information, but in the past few weeks I've had to look at newly made blogs, youtube videos and google ads (ewww) and the sheer amount of stuff that SEEMS to be written by AI is concerning. Maybe half of the time it isn't actually written by it, but it feels like so because people prioritize content over EVERYTHING, and making something soulless fast is easier than making something heartfelt fast. 5 minutes crafts and the like are already setting up content factories, coming up with 50 videos in a day if not more, mathematically proved to be what the algorithm likes. So even if there's more original art on the internet that there's ever been, it's also easier to mass-produce worse quality content, and it feels like it drowns everything else.

Idk, I haven't reached a conclusion about anything really. I'm constantly learning more about how the "new" (content-oriented, AI-infested, numbers-obsessed) internet works, and while I'm pretty pessimistic about it, there sure are new ways to thrive in it as well.

yeah, that's definitely a more in-depth analysis than just nostalgia;
thanks for the other perspective!

i don't want to rattle on for too long
(i've already written a bunch today), but i wonder
if de-personalization offline is something that's contributing
to our hypothetical?
maybe, when everybody had a Blackberry and blogs were
discovered through word-of-mouth and hand-typed email,
stuff like this wasn't a concern?
in which case, has the [thing to blame]'s drive for
automation through AI in-turn made us less sociable offline?
i know i'd rather join a Teams meeting than travel to
work and sit at a desk for two hours...

anyway, i'll stop detracting from the main point of the thread
before i start a tangent :P

that being said, i'd be very skeptical of anyone who's reached a
conclusion about something that's ongoing.
personally, i'm just enjoying the ride and looking out for
signposts that i connate with danger - of which there's been a few D:
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2023 @196.98 »

Maybe half of the time it isn't actually written by it, but it feels like so because people prioritize content over EVERYTHING, and making something soulless fast is easier than making something heartfelt fast. 5 minutes crafts and the like are already setting up content factories, coming up with 50 videos in a day if not more, mathematically proved to be what the algorithm likes.

It's things like this that so far have me thinking the majority of created content on the Internet is human made. Despite the soulless garbage 5 Minute Crafts makes, it has humans making it. So far AI is only decent at writing things, but I do believe that once AI generated videos get decent and their cost drops low enough they will replace humans. I recall there was a few stories in the news a few years back that content farms were in hot water after some of the "life hacks" they were showing in videos turned out to be dangerous. That and things like Elsagate make me worried about Gen Alpha, and that was before AI. With AI I'm scared how massive the growth in dangerous and or disturbing content will be, assuming nothing is done to stop it.
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2023 @310.80 »

I believe most of what we see is by humans because the sites we visit have protections against them, and I imagine there is an unfathomable number of them out there, and outnumber humans.

True, some poorly paid humans have to log in by hand to well-secured message boards, to deliver a spam post. I wouldn't overestimate AI in that regard.

All I can wish for is that people develop a sense, or let's say, a taste for proper information. Because the information flood is enormous now and will be even more enormous in the future. If you can't differentiate, you're lost in the heap of trash.

If all you find on the search engines becomes trash, wouldn't a topic-specific community be the logical solution? The internet is far to powerful to be ruined by 99% of the traffic being bots. The 1% should set up their own castle and rule there and make a party.

On the other hand, if AI-made sites solve real problems... like computer problems or how to repair this or that, then the internet user will benefit from them of course.
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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2023 @590.07 »

True, some poorly paid humans have to log in by hand to well-secured message boards, to deliver a spam post. I wouldn't overestimate AI in that regard.

I don't have much to say on the dead internet topic, but I'll say this; you'd be surprised re: logging in by hand. One of my favourite online pet sites is a frequent target for this and even with captcha we get spam that's definitely bots! I find it so funny bc they have to make a pet so you see these poor hideous pets with gibberish names, shilling some miracle pill on the forums :P
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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2023 @597.80 »

Even a graveyard is full of life (usually more life than the typical office  :grin: )
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2023 @977.38 »

I wonder if we should call it "Dead Social Theory" instead. Maybe we should just discard it. I think the "dark forest" and "cozy web" models better describe reality, and aren't nearly as paranoid. For example, the Melon Land forum is part of the "cozy web". It's an open secret; a reasonably net-savvy person can find it, but it's guarded and tended by Melonking.
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2023 @57.62 »

I wonder if we should call it "Dead Social Theory" instead. Maybe we should just discard it. I think the "dark forest" and "cozy web" models better describe reality, and aren't nearly as paranoid. For example, the Melon Land forum is part of the "cozy web". It's an open secret; a reasonably net-savvy person can find it, but it's guarded and tended by Melonking.

I read over it and I do think it's a better way to describe the Internet than Dead Internet Theory. However I disagrees, with it putting things like Discord, Snapchat, Whatsapp, and other more mainstream platforms in the 'Cozy Web' category. If anything they belong in the 'Dark Forest' given how large they are, despite their options for privacy communities. I think things like forums, IRC, XMPP, and other smaller and or obscure platforms and protocols would be better for the 'Cozy Web'.
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2023 @66.40 »

I read over it and I do think it's a better way to describe the Internet than Dead Internet Theory. However I disagrees, with it putting things like Discord, Snapchat, Whatsapp, and other more mainstream platforms in the 'Cozy Web' category. If anything they belong in the 'Dark Forest' given how large they are, despite their options for privacy communities. I think things like forums, IRC, XMPP, and other smaller and or obscure platforms and protocols would be better for the 'Cozy Web'.

I wholeheartedly agree. Even if Discord isn't spyware sending users' data to Tencent in China, it is still proprietary and its freemium model is inherently predatory. As such it definitely belongs in the Dark Forest along with Slack, Teams, Snapchat, Whatsapp, and other corporate-owned platforms including Medium, Substack, and Blogger (a Google property that it keeps forgetting to kill off). In fact, I'd suggest that even the Fediverse sits at the edge of the Dark Forest. It might not be proprietary or operated by for-profit corporations, but it tends to emulate the negative patterns of platforms deep within the Dark Forest.
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2023 @69.14 »

i think it's addressing a very real feeling of alienation that people are experiencing (and I think it's connected to the same feeling that appears everywhere, online and not.) but I think it's not really attributing it to the right cause. I say this largely because I used to kind of believe it, but then I started to try to address those feelings of alienation, and the feeling started to go away. I think people are lonely and not allowed to be the animals that they are, I think we have constructed a world that is very anti-human, and a lot of people pick up on things like that, without realising thats what it is.
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2023 @77.75 »

I think people are lonely and not allowed to be the animals that they are, I think we have constructed a world that is very anti-human, and a lot of people pick up on things like that, without realising thats what it is.

I agree, and without digging into a lot of abstruse theory I think the creation of this anti-human world predates the internet. I think the Allen Ginsberg got a glimpse of the living hell we're building for ourselves and could only explain it through metaphor, through his poem Howl. He called it "Moloch", which I find apt.

And I think our news broadcasts are a litany of atrocities because we've made the world an inhuman place, and as Stephen King wrote about the Overlook Hotel in The Shining:

Quote
"This inhuman place makes human monsters."

We can't kill or banish Moloch because we are Moloch. We create and reify Moloch through our actions and inaction, through our inability to curb our desires or even identify their source, through our reluctance or outright refusal to delay gratification and tolerate inconvenience.

A medieval king would be psychotic with envious rage at the riches I take for granted. I have a house that is warm in winter and reasonably cool in summer. I have running water. Instead of urinating and defecating into a pot I or a servant must empty, I have a flushing toilet that disposes of such wastes with next to no effort on my part. My library would make those of many monasteries seem paltry, and there are dozens of books on my shelves that I haven't even read yet. I can listen to entire symphonies with a few keystrokes, likewise theater. I can sample the cuisine of cultures that were once so distant and unreachable that they were mistaken for fantasy. If I want meat, I need not hunt. If I want fruit, I need not climb a tree.

The state demands little of me. The church has no power over me. Even the fear of God is optional, the commandments attributed to him mere guidelines. War is distant, a mere curiosity when not an inconvenience, unless I make an effort to care and remember that actual human beings are fighting and dying halfway across the planet for no greater cause than a tyrant's dream of empire restored. Infectious disease, once feared as the wrath of God, is now a threat we hold at bay through sanitation, vaccines, and the less than judicious application of antibiotics. The obesity that was once a sign of obscene wealth is now one of poverty. The pallor that likewise once signified privilege now signifies its lack.

And yet the society I live in keeps finding ways to tell me that I don't have enough, that I am not enough. And its whispers are as hard to deny as they are insidious, because propaganda is the highest art form of our age. Never has it been more important, or harder, to think for ourselves, and reason with one another, and love each other as part of the family of humanity.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2023 @97.79 by starbreaker » Logged


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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2023 @90.54 »

I agree, and without digging into a lot of abstruse theory I think the creation of this anti-human world predates the internet.

yes, I think that when people complain about the world we live in today, they forget that it is the product of the world that we come from. none of the problems in the world are the kind that can be created in a day. they have so much history and build-up to them, and I think any solution to large problems like this that ignore that won't really get us anywhere!
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