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…)
We believe in the power of stories to help us learn from and better understand one another and serve as a reminder that there is more that unites us than divides us.
Last week, we posted a “feel good” story about free medical tuition. If you could use another dose of feel good, maybe even on a regular basis, check out 500 Pens which describes itself as an “anti hate news project”. Organized around the values of inclusion, opportunity and respect, 500 pens seeks “to produce honest and compelling content that encourages readers to care, connect and act”.
To get a better sense of who is behind 500 pens, read through their About page. Even better, if you really want to know what they have to offer, read through some of their articles. Perhaps you might discover a place of continued rejuvenation.
Multiple times in the since mid-2017, this blog have made reference or presented ideas relative to Moral Foundations Theory (MFT). While we do not wholly agree with all of the proposals of the theory, while we have found the “universality” of its proposals somewhat wanting and while we have questioned the motivations of its founder, Jonathan Haidt, we do believe the framework presents a worthwhile configuration of morality categories, if only for its heuristic value. Apparently, a blogger who writes under the moniker “Moral Navigator” shares an interest in this set of ideas. Check out one of his recent posts called “Which Moral Foundations Do You Value?”
The seekingGood blog addresses a wide range of topics. Out of deference to a known portion of our readers, often, we fall short of the depth we might prefer as well as the academic rigor with which we are more comfortable (the language of which we must actively—sometimes unsuccessfully—resist). Moral Navigator’s blog appears to reflect no such limitations, focusing on morality topics written in a learned yet very readable style (complete with multiple references). Take a look at his blog. You might find a new home.
This blog is all about “morality”. To seek Good is to aspire for the attainment of some standard of thought and behavior defined as positive in some manner. As such, a construction such as Moral Foundations Theory represents a paramount interest of this blog (and, presumably those who read it). Likewise, the trustworthiness of such a construction becomes crucial regarding its usefulness. So how useful is this theory—Jonathan Haidt’s MFT, a theoretical, research-based notion about rubrics of our moral perspective?
“A democratic society becomes very fragile
when [Truth] the central common good is assailed…
directly and repeatedly”
~ Robert Reich
What are the most fundamental components of any democracy? Robert Reich, speaking on the theme of his book The Common Good, suggests that “truth” (which he defines as a “common good”) represents one of the most significant foundations of any democratic endeavor. Regardless of sociopolitical persuasion, preservation of high standards for truth should be paramount in our thinking. Democratic governance depends on such a perspective. However, according to Mr. Reich and many others, the manner in which certain government officials portray the concept of truth represents a clear and present danger to the very foundations of democratic institutions.
In this 40 minute video, Mr. Reich presents his case around three general categories: (1) how did “this” happen (2) the central problem we face and (3) what are we going to do?