Synopses & Reviews
Fake news posts and Twitter trolls were just the beginning. What will happen when misinformation moves from our social media feeds into our everyday lives?
Despite Samuel Woolley's warnings as early as 2013, the problem of online disinformation stormed our political process in 2016 and has only worsened since. Yet as Woolley shows in this urgent book, it may pale in comparison to what's to come: human-like automated voice systems, machine learning, "deepfake" AI-edited videos and images, interactive memes, virtual reality, and more. In stories both deeply researched and compellingly written, Woolley describes this future and imagines its profound impact on our politics.
Information literacy is an essential ingredient in a healthy democracy, and The Reality Game shows how the breakneck rate of technological change is making it nearly impossible. Woolley argues for a new culture of invention, one built around accountability and especially transparency. We cannot afford to continue re-litigating the past. Instead, we must follow signals to prevent manipulation in the future ‐ and use our new tools not to control people but to empower them.
"A well-informed cautionary tale on alarming issues that show no signs of abating as disinformation continues to proliferate."
"The Reality Game synthesizes his deep and original knowledge on this subject into a readable and compelling book. Scholars of computational propaganda, policymakers in Washington, Brussels, and the Silicon Valley, as well as all citizens of the world concerned about truth, facts, and democracy must read this book." Michael McFaul, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and former US ambassador to Russia
"This is a crucial book for understanding online misinformation, disinformation, and outright propaganda. Like a good doctor, Sam Woolley has given us an excellent diagnosis of this problem and laid out a treatment plan. Now it's up to politicians and the public to heed his timely advice." Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media
"This a mind-blowing and essential book for a future that's practically already here, whether we know it or not. This book scares the hell out of me, but if we listen to Woolley's wake-up call, then I also have hope." Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
About the Author
Dr. Samuel Woolley is a writer and researcher specializing in the study of automation/AI, emergent technology, politics, persuasion, and social media. He is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and program director for computational propaganda research at the Center for Media Engagement, both at the University of Texas at Austin.
Prior to joining UT, Woolley founded and directed the Digital Intelligence Lab at the Institute for the Future, a 50-year-old think tank based in the heart of Silicon Valley.
He also cofounded and directed the research team at the Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.
He has written on political manipulation of technology for a variety of publications including Wired, the Atlantic Monthly, Motherboard/VICE, TechCrunch, the Guardian, Quartz and Slate.
His research has been featured in publications such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal and on The Today Show, 60 Minutes, and Frontline. His work has been presented to members of NATO, the US Congress, the UK Parliament, and to numerous private entities and civil society organizations. His PhD is from the University of Washington. He tweets from @samuelwoolley.