Will disinformation rock the world forever?

0 Comments 10.20.17

The future of information, misinformation, and public discourse is called “an arms race,” a very dismal situation – and offering some reasons for hope, in the latest Pew mega-analysis of an important trend on the internet.

Titled “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online,” this massive survey of more than 1000 technology industry experts is rich with analysis and on a qualitative level, the following conclusion when the experts were presented with good and bad possible scenarios:

51% chose the option that the information environment will not improve, and 49% said the information environment will improve.

It’s a long and really good survey with amazing thinkers included. Amazing. It’s so long that I just consumed it by using the text-to-speech function of the Pocket mobile app while walking my dog and cleaning my bathroom. (A work call got cut short and another one rescheduled.) I had the app reading at the fastest speed possible and it still took 45 minutes! I highly recommend that method, though.

The fabulous automated highlighting service called Summarize that comes with Mac OSX says that across the entire collection, this is the most central paragraph:

Jerry Michalski, futurist and founder of REX, replied, “The trustworthiness of our information environment will decrease over the next decade because: 1) It is inexpensive and easy for bad actors to act badly; 2) Potential technical solutions based on strong ID and public voting (for example) won’t quite solve the problem; and 3) real solutions based on actual trusted relationships will take time to evolve – likely more than a decade.”

Here’s my personal favorite:
Jim Warren, an internet pioneer and open-government/open-records/open-meetings advocate, said, “False and misleading information has always been part of all cultures (gossip, tabloids, etc.). Teaching judgment has always been the solution, and it always will be. I (still) trust the longstanding principle of free speech: The best cure for ‘offensive’ speech is MORE speech. The only major fear I have is of massive communications conglomerates imposing pervasive censorship.”

But there are hundreds of other informed perspectives in this write up. I recommend it highly.


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