SAN FRANCISCO — Scott Adams, the creator of the office-themed comic strip “Dilbert,” isn’t laughing about the future of American democracy.
Having expressed his admiration for Donald Trump over the past few years, Adams believes the tech industry poses a threat to the president as well as to the country as a whole.
“I think President Trump will be the last pure human leader,” Adams told Grant Burningham, host of the Yahoo News podcast “Bots & Ballots.” “Everything after this will be a human and he will be elected, he or she, but the decisions will really come from the algorithm after that.”
The algorithm, Adams said, was the one unleashed on the world by Silicon Valley tech companies that has the power to shape popular opinion that, in turn, will determine how politicians express themselves.
“There are people making decisions at the tech companies — the Googles and Twitters and Facebooks. Those decisions get turned into algorithms, and once they’re turned into algorithms, the humans no longer really understand them,” Adams said.
Adams has likened Trump’s off-the-cuff communications approach in the 2016 presidential election to a form of hypnosis that helped insulate him from the powers of the algorithm.
“President Trump is unique in that his persuasion skills are greater than the tech companies’. It’s probably the only reason he got elected,” Adams said. “I can imagine no one else who would have beat Hillary Clinton. So, after him, I think if you get in an ordinary politician, and it doesn’t matter which party they’re in, the algorithm will push the voters and the voters will push the politicians and everybody will think they have free will, they will think they made up their own minds. They will think they did their own research, they came up with independent decisions, but we’re no longer in that world.”
For more on his thoughts on how the tech industry is poised to reshape the American electorate, listen to Adams’s full interview.