The robot bookseller uprising will destroy us all

Another reason to prefer independent bookstores over Amazon: I've never had a bookseller encourage me to read hateful conspiracy theories. Ben Collins at NBC News writes:

A book that pushes the conspiracy theory Qanon climbed within the top 75 of all books sold on Amazon in recent days, pushed by Amazon’s algorithmically generated recommendations page.

“QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening,” which has no stated author, ranked at No. 56 at press time, was featured in the algorithmically generated “Hot new releases” section on Amazon’s books landing page. The book claims without evidence a variety of outlandish claims including that prominent Democrats murder and eat children and that the U.S. government created both AIDS and the movie Monsters Inc.

Elon Musk can talk about artificial intelligence as the threat to humanity's future all he wants, but I'm convinced that the real threat is algorithmic suggestion. YouTube and Amazon and Facebook and all the others don't know the difference between good clicks and bad clicks. And since controversial topics get clicks faster than thoughtful contributions, the hateful and terrible crap rises to the top and is further promoted by the algorithm. I'm not the first person to notice this.

I don't know how to repair our broken society, but I do know that the less you leave the decision-making in your life to algorithms, the happier and better-adjusted you will be. Don't let Jeff Bezos tell you which books to buy; he obviously doesn't give one good goddamn what you read, so long as you pay him for the privilege. Don't give him your business.