My computer, my doppeltweeter

socialnetwork

Broadway, as you’ll recall, was the nickname of the fellow that 50 Cent hired to ghost his tweets. “The energy of it is all him,” Broadway said of the simulated stream he produced for his boss. Or, as Baudrillard put it: “Ecstasy of information: simulation. Truer than true.”

Now that we’re all microcelebrities, we need to democratize Broadway. No mortal can keep up with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc., all by himself/herself. [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix=""]There’s just not enough realtime in the day[/inlinetweet]. We all need a doppeltweeter to channel our energy.

Since the ability to clone Broadway is still three or four years out, Google is stepping into the breach by automating the maintenance of one’s social media presence. The company, as the BBC reports, was earlier this week granted a patent for “automated generation of suggestions for personalized reactions in a social network.” The description of the anticipated service is poetic:

A suggestion generation module includes a plurality of collector modules, a credentials module, a suggestion analyzer module, a user interface module and a decision tree. The plurality of collector modules are coupled to respective systems to collect information accessible by the user and important to the user from other systems such as e-mail systems, SMS/MMS systems, micro blogging systems, social networks or other systems. The information from these collector modules is provided to the suggestion analyzer module. The suggestion analyzer module cooperates with the user interface module and the decision tree to generate suggested reactions or messages for the user to send.

Translation: At this point, we have so much information on you that we know you better than you know yourself, so you may as well let us do your social networking for you.

Google notes that the automation of personal messaging will help people avoid embarrassing social faux pas:

Many users use online social networking for both professional and personal uses. Each of these different types of use has its own unstated protocol for behavior. It is extremely important for the users to act in an adequate manner depending upon which social network on which they are operating. For example, it may be very important to say “congratulations” to a friend when that friend announces that she/he has gotten a new job. This is a particular problem as many users subscribe to many social different social networks. With an ever increasing online connectivity and growing list of online contacts and given the amount of information users put online, it is possible for a person to miss such an update.

A computer will generate a personal “congratulations!” note to send to a friend, and upon the reception of the note, the friend’s computer will respond with a personal “thanks!” note, which will trigger the generation of a “no problem!” note. I think this is getting very close to the social networking system Mark Zuckerberg has always dreamed about. When confronted with an unstated protocol for behavior, it’s best to let the suggestion analyzer module do the talking.

Beyond the practical stream-management benefits, there’s a much bigger story here. The Google message-automation service promises to at last close the realtime loop: A computer running personalization algorithms will generate your personal messages. These computer-generated messages, once posted or otherwise transmitted, will be collected online by other computers and used to refine your personal profile. Your refined personal profile will then feed back into the personalization algorithms used to generate your messages, resulting in a closer fit between your  computer-generated messages and your computer-generated persona. And around and around it goes until a perfect stasis between self and expression is achieved. The thing that you once called “you” will be entirely out of the loop at this point, of course, but that’s for the best. Face it: you were never really very good at any of this anyway.

This post is an installment in Rough Type’s ongoing series “The Realtime Chronicles,” which began here. A full listing of posts can be found hereImage from Google patent filing.

9 Comments

Filed under Realtime

9 Responses to My computer, my doppeltweeter

  1. Mark Pontin

    “The digital soul: My Facebook page may be part of my identity, but can it give me a virtual afterlife?”
    http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/what-will-happen-to-my-online-identity-when-i-die/

    Also, see –
    https://www.lifenaut.com/mindfile/how-it-works/

    Finally, the science-fiction writers have been thinking this stuff through ahead of the rest of us as usual. There’s a novella from a couple of years back, “Dead Man’s Run” by Robert Reed that might be worth your looking at, though you’ll have to read it to the very end to get Reed’s sly payoff. It’s in ‘Year’s Best Science Fiction: 28th Annual Collection’

  2. Charles

    Someone suggested I start tweeting to promote myself. I told him I could never say anything useful in less than 140 characters.

  3. Daniel Cole

    I assume the feature would be adjustable, so one could put responses to certain facebook friends on autopilot (grandma, certain coworkers, exes), freeing one’s time up for communication with preferred contacts. But how will do you know whether they are actually responding and aren’t just automating their relationship with you?

    Speaking of hip hop and doppelgangers, another phenomenon that I’d love to see Nick give the blog treatment to is this one: http://pitchfork.com/features/ordinary-machines/9265-ghost-riding/

    Conceivably, performers could now do their entire tours in a single night. Who’s to say which city they “really” played?

  4. Fred Goddard

    What I am trying to understand is what happens if the replies are automated or even when they are generated, and then the replies to those replies are automated, then won’t you just begin to get a system where the computers or this mechanism for generating responses is just talking to one another, leaving humans completely out of the loop? Of course, that is debatable as to whether that is a good or bad thing!

  5. Andrew Francis

    Great post! Some comments:

    1 –

    Google is stepping into the breach by automating the maintenance of one’s social media presence.

    This sounds close to what Weavrs do.

    I am also reminded of a passage from Wire’s 3.05 Gossip is Philosophy which features an interview between Kevin Kelly and Brian Eno

    If I could give you a black box that could do anything, what would you have it do?
    I would love to have a box onto which I could offload choice making. A thing that makes choices about its outputs, and says to itself, This is a good output, reinforce that, or replay it, or feed it back in. I would love to have this machine stand for me. I could program this box to be my particular taste and interest in things.

  6. Did you just invent “doppletweeter”?

    As for automating our “personal” selves online, I’d suggest we hardly ever see the “real” anyone online. It’s not as if we’re posting extensively on our darker selves, so why not simply automate the posting of the sunny stuff and eliminate the pretense?

  7. A computer will generate a personal “congratulations!” note to send to a friend, and upon the reception of the note, the friend’s computer will respond with a personal “thanks!” note, which will trigger the generation of a “no problem!” note. I think this is getting very close to the social networking system Mark Zuckerberg has always dreamed about. When confronted with an unstated protocol for behavior, it’s best to let the suggestion analyzer module do the talking.

    I think that the idea of automating social interaction is interesting, but the very last thing that any online advertising platform (read: any social media site) wants is for you to be ‘out of the loop’. Your eyeballs are the product that they’re selling to their customer: firms who want advertising impressions. No reasonable innovation from these companies endeavor to take the eyeballs out of the equation, because that’s their primary product.

  8. Andrew Francis

    I think that the idea of automating social interaction is interesting, but the very last thing that any online advertising platform (read: any social media site) wants is for you to be ‘out of the loop’. Your eyeballs are the product that they’re selling to their customer: firms who want advertising impressions. No reasonable innovation from these companies endeavor to take the eyeballs out of the equation, because that’s their primary product.

    Take One:
    Not to worry, your software agent act as surrogate eyeballs.

    Take Two:
    Perhaps because software agents don’t have eyes, software agents and the underlying computational paradigm that Alan Kay calls “indirect management” hasn’t caught on.

  9. Rolly

    The reality is that the majority of people operate on a kind of auto-pilot anyway; acting in a way that they think that other folk think that they ought act.
    Nothing original there.