I love Charilie Stross. While I’ve been stressing over the issue of humans ganging up to attack people and suppress ideas on the Internet, Charlie is well into the future already, predicting how to do this with a botswarm.

The basis for this prediction was the recent launch of Microsoft’s conversational bot named Tay, which is meant to be pleasant, tell jokes and make friends with human posters on the Internet (merely for the purposes of research, of course). She also has a learning function where she absorbs the kind of conversation going on around her and uses this to blend in. Within hours she was an ill-informed, racist asshole.

So, what are the implications? Actually, this suggests a number of scenarios. I expect this kind of bot is meant to sway public opinion for business/sales purposes. However, I’m sure she has a manifest destiny in politics, too. Just think about it. In the future, activists for particular viewpoints won’t have to worry about exhausting themselves with personal virtue signaling and identification of potential targets for attack. These tasks can be automated so mere humans will be quickly exhausted by trying to resist. Soon bots will battle bots for the soul of humanity.

See Charlie’s vision of the future here.