A study conducted by researchers specialising in biology, psychology, neural and climate sciences, among others, has warned that the social media networks can be a threat to human civilization, and that academics should address the study of the large-scale impact of technology in society as a “crisis discipline”.
The study, published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, said that the collective “behaviour provides a framework for understanding how the actions and properties of groups emerge from the way individuals generate and share information. In humans, information flows were initially shaped by natural selection, but are increasingly structured by emerging communication technologies”.
“The digital age and the rise of social media have accelerated changes in our social systems, with poorly understood functional consequences. This gap in our knowledge represents the main challenge to scientific progress, democracy and actions to face global crises”, the research paper read.
The researchers who conducted the study have argued that the study of collective behavior must reach a crisis discipline, as well as the medicine, conservation and climate sciences.
The co-author of the study and researcher at the University of Washington, Joseph Bak-Coleman, while talking to the Vox said that the question they were trying to answer was, “What can we infer about the course of society at scale, given what we know about complex systems?”
“It’s how we use mouse or fly models to understand neuroscience. Some of this went back to animal societies – namely, groups – to understand what they tell us about collective behaviour in general, but also about complex systems more broadly. So our goal is to take that perspective and then look at human society with it. And one of the things about complex systems is that they have a finite perturbation limit. If you disturb them too much, they change. And they often tend to fail catastrophically, unexpectedly, without warning. We see it in the financial markets – suddenly they break out of nowhere,” Bak-Coleman told Vox.
Moreover, Coleman and his colleagues have mentioned various examples where the social media has disrupted the flow of reliable information about health, climate and many other pressing topics.
From : pk.mashable.com