On the frontier of artificial intelligence journalism
In an era when venerable news publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are being maligned by key societal figures accusing them of “leftist” bias, when publications such as Breitbart or similar media sources often deemed “conservative” unabashedly present stories slanted to reflect political views far right of the majority of public sentiment in the country and when a significant portion of the general public acquires its “facts” about the nature of world events from Twitter, Facebook and a network that used to fly a banner emblazoned with the words “fair and balanced”, bias both inadvertent and intentional has become an insurmountable impediment to attaining the “truth” about what is going on around us. In the face of such a large, sprawling situation, we sometimes get lost, failing to understand the meaning of our daily encounters and the most appropriate intent we should seek regarding any of these events. Enter knowherenews.com. This website proposes that computer software can filter reports of world events and effectively sanitize them of ideological bias.
Is it true? Whatever “it” is, can we be certain “it” represents truth? How do we know? When we act in the world, when we make choices and, perhaps most important, when we establish relationships between ourselves and others, are we sure that “truth” we use as a basis of that relationship is trustworthy? “There’s a sucker born every minute.” While American showperson P.T. Barnum might not have made such a statement as is often assumed, he certainly could have. In her book, The Death of Truth, Michiko Kakutani describes Mr. Barnum and his orientation to manipulation this way:
…a self-proclaimed ‘prince of humbugs’ whose ‘great discovery was not how easy it was to deceive the public but rather how much the public enjoyed being deceived’ as long as it was being entertained.’ And as verisimilitude replaced truth as a measurement, ‘the socially rewarded art’ became that of making things seem true’; no wonder that the new masters of the universe in the early 1960s were the Mad Men of Madison Avenue. (p.83)
How do we ever know if we are proceeding through EveryDayLife based on genuine truth or when we, like puppets, are being controlled by the serendipity of others? Where is the anchor point from which we leverage our understanding of the world?
“Free market” is an idea often associated with labels like “Libertarians” and “Republicans”. However, thinking rationally about the concept (rather than merely reacting to it) should cause no one to grab up the children and head for shelter when such ideas are floated within public discourse. Trading freely represents an extension of the same freedom most of us want to believe in (if only for ourselves…and maybe for our loved ones). But do these notions about “free” this and “free” that actually present true freedom or something else? (more…)
Truth and communication represent two major themes here at seekingGood. Cognitive scientist George Lakoff has commented frequently in recent months regarding specific statement and the general presentation of the current “Loser President”. Communication can be a tricky business–all the more so when the speaker has no intention of either presenting truth or allowing the truth to be presented. Lakoff has highlighted four specific tactics (depicted below) the current president uses in his tweets. Each is designed to evade the truth in any given situation. None of them are particularly unique. However, each is a tactic well worth understanding such that you can watch for them as you read or hear anything from anyone.
Most of us are unaware of the many layered aspects of language. The relative absence of such awareness can often cost us in ways of which we will never be aware. When attempting to influence opinion using words (or sometimes behaviors) in the public sphere, a heightened awareness of our use of language can significantly increase the success of our efforts. In a Feb 07, 2017 Travis Smiley interview, George Lakoff, a distinguished linguist, shared some ideas for effectively reaching the broadest spectrum of individuals. You can also read Lakoff’s comments from July 2016 regarding the current president during the campaign.