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Robot cults

March 29, 2021

When one ponders how it worked, QAnon was an interesting phenomenon. There are plenty of conspiracy theories that have been spread or kept alive over the years just by some book that propagated them. QAnon was (is?) more than that, telling its followers how to view events as they occurred. That makes it look much like a cult. Except, there was no cult leader, charismatic or otherwise. That role was played entirely through messages dropped over the internet. Proving that the personal touch, from a leader or trained disciples, is unnecessary to forming and maintaining a cult.

We don’t know who did that, or why. There is no reason to believe the backstory those messages provide for Q. It is clear that that the unknown author understood the psychology of the Pizzagate hoax, from which the QAnon cult was derivative, and of Trump followers, from which QAnon drew and to which it contributed. In the future, could that expertise be provided by an AI? That would have the advantage to someone who benefits from such a cult that they don’t personally need a close understanding of its following. More, an AI could generate messages from a purported leader, create dialogue from fictional associates and fictional foils and seed followers, and coordinate that for related cults. Though QAnon aligned with Trump’s base, cults that are competition or in opposition might work better at motivating members of each.

Reading about how QAnon followers are responding to its lull, one thing is clear: there is no easy vaccine for that plague.

The next time I’m in Brooklyn, I will have to look up the robotic church, if it still is there. 

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