In a World Run by Algorithms, Weirdness Is Our Best Weapon

By Douglas Rushkoff: For Complete Post, Click Here…

How anomalous behavior defeats the systems of social control.

The easiest way to break free of simulation is to recognize the charade and stop following the rules of the game.

No, cheating doesn’t count. Illegal insider trades and performance-enhancing drugs simply prove how far people are willing to go to win. If anything, cheating reinforces the stakes and reality of the game.

Transcending the game altogether means becoming a spoilsport — someone who refuses to acknowledge the playing field, the rules of engagement, or the value of winning. (Why win, anyway, if it’s only going to end the game?) In certain non-Western cultures, the spoilsport is the shaman, who lives apart from the tribe in order to see the larger patterns and connections. In a world where a person’s success is measured by career achievements, the spoilsport is the one willing to sacrifice commercial reward for social good. In a middle school where social media likes are the metric of popularity, the spoilsport is the kid who deletes the app or chooses not to own a phone at all. The spoilsport takes actions that make no sense within the logic of the game.

Such anomalous behavior challenges convention, breaks the conspiracy of conformity, and stumps the algorithms. A.I.s and other enforcers of social control can’t follow what they can’t categorize. Weirdness is power, dissolving false binaries and celebrating the full spectrum of possibility. Eccentricity opens the gray area where mutations develop and innovations are born.

We can assert our uniquely human sides through things like humor and pranks, music and magic — none of which can be appreciated or even understood by machines or markets. 

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