The Bottomless Pinocchio

Just this month, the newspaper’s Fact Checker was forced to create a new category of lying just for the Trump era: the ‘Bottomless Pinocchio’ for ‘when a politician refuses to drop a claim that has been fact checked as three or four Pinocchios, keeps saying it over and over and over again, so that it basically becomes disinformation, propaganda.’
It is so much worse than I thought by Charles M. Blow, New York Times, 19 December 2018

We are what we celebrate

There are two popular explanations for this mayhem. One is that Europe was always destined to tear Britain apart, since too many Britons loathe the evolution of the common market into a European Union. A second is that Brexit has provided a catalyst for a long-simmering civil war between successful Britain (which is metropolitan and liberal) and left-behind Britain (which is provincial and conservative). Both explanations have merit. But there is also a third: that the country’s model of leadership is disintegrating. Britain is governed by a self-involved clique that rewards group membership above competence and self-confidence above expertise. This chumocracy has finally met its Waterloo.

But there are so many of them

Former YouTube engineer Guillaume Chaslot, an artificial intelligence expert who once worked to develop the platform’s recommendation algorithm, says he discovered the severity of the problem, which he believes he helped create, on a long bus ride through his native France in 2014, the year after he left the company. A man sitting on the seat next to him was watching a succession of videos claiming that the government had a secret plan to kill one-quarter of the population. Right after one video finished, another started automatically, making roughly the same claim.

Chaslot tried to explain to the man that the conspiracy was obviously untrue and that YouTube’s recommendation engine was simply serving up more of what it thought he wanted. The man at first appeared to understand, Chaslot said, but then concluded: “But there are so many of them.”

Two years after #Pizzagate showed the dangers of hateful conspiracies, they’re still rampant on YouTube, by Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Tony Romm and Andrew Ba Tran, Washington Post, 10 December 2018

The game frame

TV news analysts are typically fixated on politics as a game (who are the players? what is the strategy? who is winning/ losing?). The game frame pits parties and groups against one another in an artificially constructed battle that fails to engage with the underlying issue.

The game frame fools the public into feeling like it “totally knows what is going on” when in reality it only knows the soap opera of characters and strategy and none of the historical, economic, environmental, racial, or social context surrounding an actual issue.

But this would require speculation...

When the Future of Computing Academy recently suggested that authors of computer science papers should write about the possible negative implications of the technology they build or the research they conduct, one complaint I saw from scientists was that this would require speculation: How are we supposed to know what bad things might happen?

The Correct Sarah Connor

If the Terminator were set in today’s world, the movie would have ended after four and a half minutes. The correct Sarah Connor would have been identified with nothing but a last name and a zip code—information leaked last year in the massive Equifax data breach. The war against the machines would have been over before it started, and no one would have ever noticed.
In cyberwar, there are no rules, by Tarah M. Wheeler, Foreign Policy News, 12 September 2018

Contradictory, confusing, overlapping and innacurate

The destructive power of the press becomes even more marked when spread with new technologies. In the 1850s, the telegraph confronted Americans with a steady stream of virtually instant information: contradictory, confusing, overlapping and inaccurate, it scrambled and intensified the political climate. Today, social media is doing the same. At its heart, democracy is a continuing conversation between politicians and the public; it should come as no surprise that dramatic changes in the modes of conversation cause dramatic changes in democracies themselves.
The Violence at the Heart of Our Politics, by Joanne B. Freeman, 7 September 2018