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Everyone Should Be Worried About What Reddit Is Up To

Everyone Should Be Worried About What Reddit Is Up To
Things get messy when we are reduced to a bunch of categories.

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In a recent edition of r/Farhad, Slate contributor Farhad Manjoo explores the unique role that Reddit plays in creating and popularizing internet memes. Reddit has a knack for categorizing human behavior, turning everyday occurrences into viral sensations. For example, the term "Karen" to describe entitled white women causing a scene emerged from a subreddit documenting the behavior of a real woman named Karen. These terms have become widely recognized and used, shaping the way we understand and label different types of people.

However, Reddit's influence goes beyond just creating memes. The company recently listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange and signed deals with Google and OpenAI to license its content for training their A.I. systems. This raises concerns about the potential impact of Reddit's categorization engine on A.I. development. By teaching A.I. based on Reddit's imprecise categorization, there's a risk of creating robots that only amplify our human habit of slicing up society into hashtag collections.

While the full extent of A.I.'s influence on our world remains speculative, the worry about Reddit's influence on that process is valid. In the digital era, all of our neologisms tend to be repeated into oblivion, shaping the way we perceive and label others. If we're already putting ourselves into these buckets, it's concerning that A.I. might do the same. Farhad Manjoo suggests that we are all more than our subreddits, and the robots might treat us better if they knew that.