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  • Writer's pictureNat Bothwell

Worth Watching: "The Social Dilemma"

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

Ever wonder what drives the world's most popular social media platforms? "Monetization" might be the short answer. "Manipulation" is another. As a collection of former executives and think tankers explain, "if you're not paying for the product, you ARE the product."

"The Social Dilemma" premiered at Sundance in 2020, and by September of the same year, it was streaming in some 40 million households on Netflix. It's a docudrama, but the film moves fluidly between "information" and "interpretation," and whole story begins with one great hook... one big question. "So what's the problem?", the producers ask. That's the film's first and most fundamental question. Artfully, the film captures the sighs (and silence) of the brightest minds in the business.

This is a movie worth watching for humanity's sake. It a theological film too ("the problem," after all, is actually quite an old one). For all the good that technology does (in connecting and informing us), there's a darker, distinctly ethical dilemma to consider: "what is all of this free connectivity really costing us?" Red-blue. Right-left. Us-them. Artificial intelligence is segmenting and predicting (and modifying) human behavior as never before (precisely because it works). This movie dares to envision where unchecked greed combined with ever-evolving tools might take us.

The Social Dilemma

directed by Jeff Orlowski

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