Jack Dorsey strikes fear warning we are being programed by black box algorithms

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey believes we are being programmed by black-box algorithms and that free will is at the core of the debate.

The former CEO of Twitter (now X) spoke on the open-source model of artificial intelligence at the Oslo Freedom Forum where one clip of his remarks on free will got the attention of Elon Musk.

“Yeah, @Jack is right,” wrote the Tesla CEO who bought Twitter for $44 billion in 2022.

Author and financial analyst Lyn Alden asked Dorsey at the conference this week about algorithms that “effectively can control what we think” and the importance of open sourcing in the growing AI field.

(Video Credit: Oslo Freedom Forum)

“This is going to sound a little bit crazy, but I think that the free speech debate is a complete distraction right now,” Dorsey responded.

“I think the real debate should be about free will,” he added. “And we feel it right now because we are being programmed. We are being programmed based on what we say we’re interested in, and, we are told through these discovery mechanisms what is interesting.”

“And as we engage and interact with this content, the algorithm continues to build more and more of this bias,” Dorsey explained.

“But the algorithm, even if it’s open source, is effectively a black box. You cannot predict one hundred percent of the time how it’s going to work, what it’s going to show you, and it can be moved and changed at any time,” said Dorsey, who recently departed the board of the social networking service, Bluesky.

He contended that people’s dependence on the algorithms “is changing and impacting” free agency.

The solution, he suggested, is “not to work harder” to open-source algorithms or make them “more explainable” but to give people choices.

“Give people choice of what algorithm they want to use, from a party that they trust, give people choice to build their own algorithm that they can plug in on top of these networks and see what they want,” Dorsey continued.

“And they can shift them out as well,” he added, “and give people choice to have really a marketplace around an algorithm that you can choose.”

Musk seemed to agree with Dorsey’s remarks and others on X also weighed in, with many recalling Dorsey’s time at the helm of Twitter. Some users did, however, cut him some slack.

Dorsey even defended himself in response to some of the comments.

Frieda Powers


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