Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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blue bird on brown tree branch

Elon Musk Throws a Bomb at Media No One Should Trust

Musk’s release of the “Twitter files” on the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story has provoked media outrage and attempts to deflect the issues

By now, you’ve probably heard that Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, gave journalist Matt Taibbi inside information about Twitter’s suppression of an explosive story about Hunter Biden weeks before the 2020 election. But here’s some background that may shed some light — especially on how legacy media have changed and how social media really work. First, a summary of the basic story from legal scholar Jonathan Turley: Weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the New York Post ran an explosive story about a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden that contained emails and records detailing a multimillion dollar influence peddling operation by the Biden family. Not only was Joe Biden’s son Hunter and brother James involved in deals with an array Read More ›

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Scared young girl in mask, coronavirus panic

China’s Foxconn Walkout: How Fear Messaging Can Backfire

Workers were caught in a conflict between unrealistic COVID Zero messaging from the government and seasonal performance demands from the employer

Around this time of year, the factories that produce Apple’s iPhones hire thousands of additional workers to meet the demand for the holiday season. While Apple is an American company and the electronics are designed in-house, the manufacturing is done overseas where labor costs are cheaper. One of the largest manufacturers for Apple’s iPhone products is Hon Hai Technology Group, better known as Foxconn, a Taiwan-based company with factories in several countries, including mainland China. One of its largest facilities is in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province — dubbed “iPhone City” by the locals. Thus the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory was slated to make 80% of the iPhone 14 models and 85% of the iPhone Pro models before the end Read More ›

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A businessman appoints a leader to the head of the team. Creation of an effective teams of specialists for the implementation of a new project. HR recruiting. Management appointment. nepotism

Musk’s Twitter Takeover Sparks Crazy Talk From Mainstream Media

Has entrepreneur Musk sensed a transition in the offing? Ramped-up social media may soon replace the former mainstream media altogether

Now that Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, he isn’t short of verbal assailants, concern trolls, and volunteer freelance advisors. Brendan O’Neill offers an interesting collection at Spiked Online, including: From EuroNews Next, “Will Elon Musk’s Twitter become a beacon of free speech or a soap box for hate speech?” A Washington Post columnist: “I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter” and, inimitably, from back in April: Today on Twitter feels like the last evening in a Berlin nightclub at the twilight of Weimar Germany. — Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) April 14, 2022 Wow. O’Neill comments: The most striking thing about Musk and Twitter is the demented reaction to it. Musk himself is Read More ›

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Portrait of happy black woman working in bookstore and looking at camera.

Publishing: The Cancel Mob Targets Amy Coney Barrett’s New Book

Does the future of publishing — as an intellectual enterprise — now belong to smaller, less well-known publishers?

Last year, Mind Matters News covered the new phenomenon of publishing house staff going to war against the publisher’s own books. It’s a far cry from the days when publishers might have to defend their books in a courtroom. Last year the target was, among other authors, best-selling psychologist Jordan Peterson. We were informed by Maclean’s Magazine that “Employees at Penguin Random House Canada speak out on how they’re rethinking their workplaces and why publishing, writ large, should weigh its moral responsibilities” in connection with Peterson’s latest, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life (Penguin 2021). The book did get published, despite them, to five star reviews. But Cancel Culture staff continue to lead the charge for “depublishing” and have Read More ›

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press and media camera ,video photographer on duty in public new

Polls: Trust in Mainstream U.S. Media Still in Free Fall

Both the New York Times poll and Gallup poll illustrated that this week

A Canadian commentator has noticed a little-publicized fact about last week’s New York Times–Siena College poll of 792 registered voters. While the poll focused on the US mid-term elections next month, the information about how typical voters view mainstream media was most revealing. A majority not only don’t trust media but see them as a threat to democracy: A New York Times-Siena College poll published Tuesday found 59 percent of voters view the media as a “major threat to democracy,” while 25 percent said the press is a “minor threat” and only 15 percent said it poses no threat. The divide fell sharply along partisan lines, with 87 percent of voters who supported former President Trump in 2020 indicating they Read More ›

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Retro wave, 80s. Old tv with antenna with neon light. Top view, minimalism

The Graying of the Art — and AI — World

Why is so much modern media made up of rehashes and remakes?

The world of popular art (TV, movies, etc.) has a problem. I would even go as far as to label it a crisis. The problem is that the art world is becoming increasingly derivative. There are some points where it is obviously derivative—every movie is a remake, and every TV show is a reboot. We are getting the same stories regurgitated instead of novelty. However, there are also more subtle ways that this is happening.  TV comedies work largely by including inside jokes from previous TV shows.  One of the most popular writers of the 20th century was Louis L’Amour. What I think made L’Amour’s stories so great is that he could draw from a vast amount of personal experience. He could write about a lot Read More ›

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Woman reading online news on digital tablet

E-Books: What’s To Know About a New Way To Read

The electronic books might appeal to people with more interests than space to store stuff

E-books, books you can read on your computer, are becoming an ever-bigger presence in the market. MarketWatch currently wants nearly US$6000 to tell your company the market share forecast. They now make up 21% of book sales. Clearly, e-books would appeal to people who have more interests and ideas than they have space to store stuff. According to MarketWatch, the market is growing by roughly 20% a year. One source describes it like this: The global eBook market is being driven by technological advancements and the sophistication of reading devices that provide an experience similar to reading a physical book. The increased use of smartphones and the multilingual capabilities are predicted to boost global demand for eBooks. “eBook Market Overview Read More ›

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megaphone wrapped in barbed wire. the concept of banning freedom of speech. censorship barbed wire megaphone

The Courts: May Social Media Censor Speech and Ban Users?

Two federal appeals courts came down on opposite sides. Hear the story

May Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube censor your posts and ban you from using their social media platforms? May a state government require large social media platforms to allow users and posts to present lawful information, ideas, and viewpoints with which the platforms disagree? Florida and Texas both enacted laws to restrict platforms from censoring and banning users whose content the platforms disliked. Two different federal appeals courts in 2022 ruled on whether these two states’ laws were constitutional — and came out on opposite sides. The following three scenarios frame the key issues. Scenario A: Commercial Ground Transportation A fellow boards a private company-owned, regularly scheduled commercial bus bound for Berkeley, California, wearing a T-shirt proclaiming in big letters: Save Read More ›

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Portrait of paparazzi in a row with cameras and microphone

Tales From Why Mainstream Media Don’t Matter Like They Used To

Two incidents highlight their declining ability to just plain report. That’s BECOME the news story in many situations

Recently, I wrote about the way mainstream media (MSM), facing a steep and steady decline in profitability, public interest, and public trust, have reached the point where politicians can ignore them with impunity. The politicians haven’t changed; rather, the voters have. MSM probably don’t play nearly as big a role in how voters (and consumers) make up their minds today as do social media — after all, social media is where the advertising dollars have gone, and it’s probably no accident… No longer needed for basic information, MSM now mainly advertise the views of a social elite to the public. A longtime newsman recently mourned the loss of objectivity, but the transition to upscale soapbox has made that loss inevitable Read More ›

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press and media camera ,video photographer on duty in public new

Longtime Newsman Mourns the Loss of Objectivity in Media

Peter Menzies notes that news media today are “overflowing with agenda-driven employees intent on publicizing their own opinions”

Reporter and editor Peter Menzies reflects on mainstream news media journalists’ revolt against objectivity in recent years. It’s not a pretty picture: News organizations overflowing with agenda-driven employees intent on publicizing their own opinions while suppressing or ejecting anyone guilty, in [Bari] Weiss’s words, of “Wrongthink,” have proliferated across North America. The Washington Post, for example, has had to battle its own reporters over their social media activism. Staff at National Public Radio, the U.S.’s federally funded, not-for-profit network, demanded and last year received the right to participate in demonstrations and voice political opinions in public. Peter Menzies, “Objectivity: What Journalists Hate but the Public Still Craves” at C2C Journal (August 31, 2022) Menzies, a Canadian, cites similar examples from Canada, where the overall situation Read More ›

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Social media concept. Corona virus fake news concept. Scale on red background

Why Misinformation Comes From the Top as Well as the Bottom

At Big Think, Cameron English asks us to look at the incentives for academic scientists to publish questionable research that gains widespread attention.

Cameron English, Director of Bio-Sciences at American Council on Science and Health, offers a useful take on the need felt by some in power to crack down on Misinformation: The uncomfortable truth is that academic scientists routinely publish questionable research that attracts widespread media attention, adding to the morass of “inaccurate information” circulating online. If we want to get this problem under control, we need our trusted sources to quit releasing untrustworthy information. Cameron English, “‘Trusted’ Sources Spread Anti-Science Nonsense, Too” at Big Think (August 4, 2022) But the fact is, untrustworthy information pays: It is true that researchers live and die by their grants; they either “publish or perish,” as the old saying goes. Often, that means academic scientists Read More ›

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Internet law concept

US Federal court rules: Machines do not “invent” things

Evidently, Stephen Thaler’s aim was to get the patent office to recognize that an AI system can invent things all by itself

Check out this headline from lawandcrime.com: Federal Appellate Court Rules AI Systems Cannot Be “Inventors” Because They Are Not Human. Notice the angle: framing a battle between machines and homo sapiens, pitting human intelligence against artificial intelligence. The article’s first sentence spotlights the center attraction, stating: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Friday [Aug. 5, 2022] that artificial intelligence or “AI” systems cannot patent their inventions because they are not “natural people.” Here the Law and Crime article subtly inserts two key beliefs: (1) that AI systems can in fact invent things all by themselves; and (2) that AI systems physically can “patent their inventions.” The sentence thus implies that the human-centric court unfairly blocked them. Read More ›

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Online news in mobile phone. Close up of smartphone screen. Man reading articles in application. Hand holding smart device. Mockup website. Newspaper and portal on internet.

Beyond the Search Engine: Shape Your Own News Feed

A news aggregator keeps you current with news YOU care about or need to know

Recently, we discussed the world beyond Google, in which a variety of easily accessible search engines offers you a choice of different advantages. But now let’s look at something even more focused… A news aggregator collects news stories and other information, sorted by categories and preferences, from across the internet. News Now is one example. Let’s say you want to know more about the asteroid Bennu. You could type “Bennu” into a search engine. But you already know the basic stuff about the asteroid; right now you want to know if there has been any recent news about it. You could go to News Now, choose Science, then Astronomy, then Asteroids, Comets, and Meteoroids, then Asteroid Bennu. You will find Read More ›

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DIGITAL MARKETING new startup project MILLENNIALS Business team hands at work with financial reports and a laptop

The Role Mainstream News Media Really Play in Our Society Today

Why, exactly, traditional news media are increasingly out of touch with the public

Yesterday, we looked at why politicians can now get away with ignoring news media: The mainstream media are much less influential than they used to be. One reason is that news consumers use the internet to create their own channels. Once-mighty media are reduced to competing with their own readers for mind space and relevance now. The highlighted politicians were Republicans. But their Democrat opponents are surely in the same position. Whether their base turns out to vote for them in sufficient numbers or not, traditional news media are much less likely to influence the decision than in the past. So, if traditional mainstream news media are not as directly influential as they used to be, what role do they Read More ›

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Woman gesticulating during interview with media, press conference, close-up

Why Politicians Are Learning to Ignore News Media

Successful politicians now think they can get away with ignoring mainstream media. Could they be onto something?

A recent development — politicians ignoring media — has set journalists buzzing: This past weekend, Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, both of whom are up for reelection this fall, headlined the Republican Party of Florida’s annual Sunshine Summit. Other high-profile Florida Republicans were also in attendance at the Hardrock Hotel & Casino event, which this year tried something new: after seven years of being open to the press, “it limited which media could attend, giving inside-the-room access to right-wing outlets that give the governor positive coverage,” Politico reports, adding that traditional GOP figures were “largely replaced by the conservative social media influencers with massive followings who have recently moved to Florida and become some of DeSantis’ most Read More ›

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Young amateur football fan supporters cheering with confetti watching local soccer cup match at stadium - Friends people group on green t shirts having excited fun on sport world championship final

Researchers: Distrust of Science Is Due to Tribal Loyalty

In Part 2 of 4, we look at a claim arising from a recent study: We blindly believe those we identify with, ignoring the wisdom of science

Recently, a paper lamenting the decline of trust in science was discussed at ScienceAlert, a science news site. In representing the paper—doubtless accurately — for a lay audience, the write-up embodies the causes of legitimate public distrust. That is worth dissecting in more detail. Yesterday, we looked at the write-up in light of the government responses to COVID, which were all too often panicked reactions rather than trustworthy guidance. Then, in the wake of the debacle, the White House chose to set up a Disinformation Board to target non-government sources of alleged disinformation — which could only deepen existing distrust. We press on. The second point of four raised at ScienceAlert is that tribal loyalty is thought to create distrust Read More ›

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Power Struggles

This Isn’t Fake News: Mainstream Media Are Very Out of Touch

Massively so, if recent survey research is any guide. But how did they get SO far out of touch?

From media and culture analyst Joe Concha at The Hill, which reports on the doings of Congress, we learn about a new in-depth survey by the non-politically affiliated Pew Research Center: Per Pew, 65 percent of the nearly 12,000 journalists surveyed say the media do a solid job of “covering the most important stories of the day” and reporting news accurately. But a solid majority of the American public at large has the opposite view, with just 35 percent feeling the same way. That’s a 30-point perception gap. Joe Concha, “The media bubble is real: Study shows massive disconnect between journalists, public” at The Hill (June 22, 2022) Some other contrasts: ● “serving as a watchdog over elected leaders” Journalists: Read More ›

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Female politician talking on media press conference, public relations, event

Why Science News Sucks — A Response to a Disgusted Physicist

There are reasons why science journalists can't usually be skeptical in the way that other journalists can. Here are some of them

In her usual forthright manner, theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder asks, by blog post and Youtube video, “Why does science news suck so much? It’s hardly an original question but among her suggested answers are some thoughtful reflections, including 9. Don’t forget that science is fallible A lot of media coverage on science policy remembers that science is fallible only when it’s convenient for them. When they’ve proclaimed something as fact that later turns out to be wrong, then they’ll blame science. Because science is fallible. Facemasks? Yeah, well, we lacked the data. Alright. But that’d be more convincing if science news acknowledged that their information might be wrong in the first place. The population bomb? Peak oil? The new ice Read More ›

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Print is Alive

Have Newspapers Simply Lost Touch With the Mainstream Public?

The depressing stats tell a tale that’s a bit more complex: Readers tolerate out-of-touch media less now because they we need them so much less

Earlier this week we looked at the way a flailing newspaper chain decided to cut back on editorial and opinion pages. The decision should not be a surprise in an age when so much opinion is available for free — and by no means is all of it foolish. One familiar response has been to say, well, media are too “liberal” (or “leftist” or “progressive”) for the readers — and that’s why newspaper are losing them. It’s a factor but there is more to the story. First, we are dealing with a fact: Pious disclaimers notwithstanding, as a group, media personnel are generally more likely to support progressive causes than average Americans. A variety of explanations is offered, including this Read More ›

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newspaper production and printing process

Flailing News Chain Gannett Cuts Back on Opinion Pages

Younger readers say they can’t tell the difference between news and opinion

Virginia-based Gannett, the largest newspaper chainin the United States, owns of owns USA Today and also 260 dailies and more than 170 paid weeklies in 46 states. And it is floundering in red ink. According to the Washington Post, “Gannett lost $670 million in 2020, and $135 million last year.” As the losses head for a cumulative billion, it has made a seemingly radical decision: Cut back on opinion pages. Here’s some of the reasoning, according to the Post (which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos): Gannett says its internal research — primarily reader surveys — suggests editorials, guest commentary columns, op-eds and letters to the editor have lost relevance in an age when opinions overflow on social media. Read More ›