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.
“Like it or not, people will have to acquire their own news to a certain extent and must therefore learn journalistic techniques and various tricks of the trade”
In the current era of “fake news” and a general mood of “alternate fact” inaccuracies and slights of hand, many of us who truly seek the positive in life—“Good” and “Truth”, for instance—we sometimes can feel overwhelmed by a lack of reliable sources of information about the world. Bruce Bartlett has written a book—The Truth Matters–to partially address this situation.
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?
Vixra: A potentially valuable source of stimulating ideas
Continuing the “decentralization” theme that was largely the focus of a recent post, consider Vixra.org as a resource you might find useful (or at least entertaining). Vixra is “an e-print archive set up as an alternative to the popular arXiv.org service owned by Cornell University. Vixra was founded and is maintained by scientists who found they were unable to submit their articles to arXiv.org because of Cornell University’s policy of endorsements and moderation designed to filter articles considered by the editorial staff as “inappropriate.”
Vixra provides free access to well over 20,000 electronic documents which can be read online or downloaded as PDFs. Access is free, with no subscription required. Available articles cover a wide range of topics falling under the general categories: physics, mathematics, computational science, biology, chemistry, humanities, and academics. While the general idea is to present articles on “science and mathematics”, you might be surprised by the wide range of topics that appear. Each of these major categories contains multiple subcategories such as Mind Science, Religion and Spirituality, Quantitative Biology, Education & Didactics, Condensed Matter, Mathematical Physics and Relativity & Cosmology, and many others. (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.
Last week, we presented the notion that our point of view—regardless of the context—is a choice or choices we have made. Furthermore, we are always free to choose, free to exercise choice, whether we believe in the existence of such freedom or not. Finally, if our current perspective suggests a specific way of viewing the world, a different choice could present a completely different way of seeing (and being in) the world.
In an essay from February 2018 called “Finding Our Bearings”, L.M. Sacasas suggests that we have a better chance of knowing where we are, a better chance to get our bearings, if we broaden rather than narrow our perspective. (more…)