Technology will not protect us from human weakness–and can make it worse

When we think about misinformation … we tend to focus on the presence of bad information — but really we should be focusing on the presence of doubt.”

“A platform like YouTube or Facebook can claim to be building a “marketplace of ideas” by algorithmically presenting, say, a story about a new vaccine alongside a story claiming vaccines are dangerous. But what it is really doing is building doubt.”

“And now something similar is playing out in the United States … with the presidential election … There is plenty of good, trustworthy information out there about the election … But in an effort to call Joe Biden’s election victory into question, President Trump, his associates and his supporters are building doubt the way Mr. Trump used to build flashy apartment buildings. Rudolph Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, spread falsehoods and conspiracy theories about the election on social media and during press appearances. Mr. Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that Michigan’s election had been a “giant scam.” And Mr. Trump’s supporters have spread false stories about voter fraud on conservative websites and social media.”

“None of it is true. Little of it is remotely plausible. But it may be enough to muddy the waters, to create doubt, and thereby to erode trust in the validity of Mr. Biden’s presidency and the legitimacy of American democracy.”

We haven’t found a way to invent our way out of human frailty or failures of social trust, but it turns out we’re great at inventing our way into more of both.”

Read the entire article:

*The Interpreter (2020, November 19). When you sow doubt, what do you reap? The New York Times.

See also —

Updated: Chatbots — propaganda is being taught how to speak

Algorithms increasingly control our lives; is that a good thing?

Revisiting: Understand the context of information important to you; reduce the fear and anxiety

Questions? Please let me know (engelk@grinnell.edu).

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