Jeff Bezos Calls Modern Internet Culture A ‘Confirmation Bias Machine’

Steven Levy and Jeff Bezos speak onstage at WIRED25 Summit: WIRED Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Tech Icons Of The Past & Future on October 15, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Speaking at the Wired 25 conference in San Francisco on Monday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos covered a wide variety of topics, from his current plans to develop a space tourism industry to his defense of Amazon’s relationship with the U.S. Department of Defense. Bezos also opened up about his take on the modern incarnation of the internet and social media and what he sees it evolving into in the future, as reported by Business Insider.

“I think the Internet in its current incarnation is a confirmation bias machine,” said Bezos, leveling a harsh criticism at the medium that made him the world’s richest man.

“I worry that some of these technologies will be very useful to autocratic regimes to enforce their will.”

While Bezos has some serious concerns about the modern state of social media, he made clear that these very issues plagued many other technologies in their infancy stages and the flaws of today shouldn’t deny the potential the medium contains.

“Having technology that increases confirmation bias probably isn’t good. It is going to lead to more tribalism,” explained Bezos.

“The book was invented and people could write really evil books and lead bad revolutions with them. And create fascists empires with books. It doesn’t mean the book is bad. Society develops an immune response eventually to the bad uses of new technology, but it takes time.”

Bezos currently sees the current flaws of social media in creating a culture of confirmation bias and tribalism are simply a period of growing pains, with it eventually being corrected as the technology, as well as human society, evolves.

“A bunch of things are going to happen that we aren’t going to like that come out of technology but that’s not new. That’s always been the case. And we will figure it out,” he said. “The last thing we’d ever want to do is stop the progress of new technologies.”

Bezos’ strong opinions weren’t limited to the culture of the internet, as he vociferously defended his company’s relationship with the United States’ military, saying, “This is a great country and it does need to be defended.”

Bezos was critical of Google’s decision to back out of their military contracts and emphasized the necessity for the tech giants to share their knowledge and talents with the government, saying “If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the US Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble.”