Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

The #FakeNews Effect On Commerce And Critical Thinking

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 26, 2017

GarryKasparovGarryKasparov

The issue of fake news is extremely serious and it requires immediate attention.  Its proliferation will undermine trust in everything. Everything will look fake. Including the truth.

Without reliable and trusted information:

- Consumers and commercial buyers will delay purchases.

- Businesses won’t have good information for investment decisions.

- Shareholders won’t have a clear view into investment risks.

The rich get richer…

The winners will be special self-interest interest groups — a variety of organizations with nefarious agendas. They will do very well in a fake news future and will learn to operate with impunity. Because even if outed — the truth will look fake. And anti-truth technologies will act as a red herring for a lot of censorship of valid content. 

It’s very bad for the economy. Fake news is also bad for your head. 

"The point of modern propaganda... is to exhaust your critical thinking"

It's a haunting line from a recent Tweet by Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion and Russian political activist. 

"The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth."

https://twitter.com/Kasparov63/status/808750564284702720

Exhausting media...

The non-stop media channels everywhere you look -- now look back at you. And very soon every display near you will have a message specifically for you.

The most advanced technologies of persuasion are coming to a screen near you.Personalized. 24-7.

Will your thoughts and opinions truly be your own? Will they be based on truth or biased by others?

What's the solution? How do we escape fake news and the exhausting never-ending intrusions of influence?

There is a solution that grew out of the 1960s and 1970s when mass media was flexing its muscles and taking a massive cultural toll by trying to exhaust people's critical thinking around civil rights and the Vietnam war: People turned it off, turned away and turned on. The attention became Be. Here. Now.

Original ideas and original thoughts require that you take the time to have original experiences — experiences that are unique and unmediated — un-media-ted through the experience of others.

And that includes having an original experience of yourself. An uncomfortable zone for many. This is why meditation and mindfulness practices are so important to creating original ideas and thoughts. (And keeping notebooks nearby :)

Critical thinking is a limited resource and we could use plenty more of it in every human endeavor. Machines can't do it for us.

AI is a list of responses to a list of inputs — it is not a critical thinking machine. We have to do the critical thinking but the machines will be able to help us fight fake information with sourcing, verification and authentication — they are very good at those tasks. And they don't get exhausted.

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