Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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New U.S. Disinformation Board on Hold Amid Flak From Both Sides

Most current controversies are not clear divisions between True and Untrue or Right and Wrong. Government would merely reinforce the Establishment

If you’d blinked, you’d have missed it: The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday paused a new and controversial board’s work on disinformation and accepted the resignation of its leader, capping weeks of concerns about impinging on free speech rights and at times frenzied conspiracy theories about the board itself… The Disinformation Governance Board’s director, Nina Jankowicz, wrote Wednesday that the board’s future was “uncertain,” according to a resignation letter obtained by The Associated Press. Nomaan Merchant and Amanda Seitz, “New ‘disinformation’ board paused amid free speech questions” at Associated Press (May 18, 2022) A recommendation as to whether the Board should continue will be offered, we are told, within 75 days. The Washington Post knows who to blame: “How…

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Business crisis manager stopping falling dominos from collapsing

Who Opposes Musk’s Proposed Twitter Takeover Deal?

Four groups to watch are Twitter employees, left-wing action coalitions, legacy media, and the European Union

First, the state of play: Elon Musk’s foray into buying Twitter remains on hold amid disputes about how much of Twitter is dominated by bot accounts. Musk believes that 20% of the accounts are spam. Spam bots on Twitter are automated accounts that can take actions like real humans, such as sending out tweets, following other users, as well as liking and retweeting other users’ posts. Such accounts can be programmed to try and drive traffic to a product or service as part of a commercial endeavor or spread content as part of a social or political influence operation. Tom Ozimek, “Musk Says Twitter Deal on Hold Over Spam Bots” at Epoch Times (May 13, 2022) That’s something Musk says…

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Roboter auf Tastatur, Methapher für Chatbot / Socialbot, Algorithmen und künstliche Intelligenz

Musk’s Twitter Deal Is at Risk Amid Fierce Attacks on Him

Tarred as a privileged white South African, Musk moved to Canada at 17 to avoid serving in South Africa’s apartheid army

Traditional media and many tech mavens are elated that Elon Musk’s Twitter deal is now shaky. It’s no secret that they were unhappy with it and with him. The New York Times launched an extraordinary attack on Musk on May 5, tweeting “Elon Musk grew up in elite white communities in South Africa, detached from apartheid’s atrocities and surrounded by anti-Black propaganda. He sees his takeover of Twitter as a free speech win but in his youth did not suffer the effects of misinformation.” In reality, Musk left for Canada at the age of 17, to avoid serving in the South African military, whose principal purpose was to oppress black South Africans. He had Canadian citizenship by way of his…

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Colored powder explosion. Abstract closeup dust on backdrop. Colorful explode. Paint holi

Muskageddon! Elon Musk, World’s Richest Man, Now Owns Twitter

And wants it to be more of a free speech platform. How will that go? Musk claims to be committed to free speech. That’s the biggest single social media change in a decade. As the smoke clears, many top U. S. media pros have expressed what can only be described as “grave concern” about this: I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022 Responses range from staid “Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, and an investor in Tesla and Twitter, believes that Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter will ultimately benefit the company and its users, amid concerns about how the…

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Biological and science background

Michael Crichton would call Twitterheads “Scoundrels”

Why “Scientific Consensus” is an Oxymoron

Twitter has a new policy concerning tweets: “Misleading advertisements on #Twitter that contradict the scientific consensus on #climatechange are prohibited, in line with its inappropriate content policy.” The word pairing “scientific consensus” used in this policy is a destructive science-stifling oxymoron. Michael Crichton (1942–2008) would surely have said so. Crichton was the author of wonderful science fiction, including Jurassic Park. and The Andromeda Strain. In a lecture at Caltech, the late master story teller gave Twitter’s policy a gut punch: Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach…

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Doug Smith on How To Get Off Big Tech’s Screen Drug

The most powerful technologies the world has ever seen manipulate us into spending more time than a typical full-time job looking at our screens

When Andrew McDiarmid interviewed Christian author Doug Smith about his book [Un]Intentional How Screens Secretly Shape Your Desires, and How You Can Break Free (2018, updated 2021), Smith offered some insights into are ruining our lives. Now in this episode (183), he talks about how to sever Big Tech’s strings: Show Notes and Additional Resources follow. Andrew McDiarmid: Let’s just briefly summarize the problem and then move into some of the solutions you present. So what are some of the ways that our screens are secretly shaping our desires? Doug Smith: Well, the long and the short of it is, it’s ultimately they use the most powerful technologies the world has ever seen to manipulate us into spending more time…

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data transformation, factory processing binary code

Sometimes, Money Really Is the Explanation

Today's internet is a concentration of power, in terms of information, never before seen in history

Veteran software developer David A. Kruger offered some thoughts on computer security recently at Expensivity. We appreciate the opportunity to republish them here as a series. Last week we looked at the fact that the cybercriminal isn’t necessarily the weirdo in the hoodie. He could just a boring corporate bureaucrat collecting data on you that his boss plans to use later. Now we look at where the money in the business is: It’s All About the Benjamins Why are HDCs [human data collectors] so willing to abuse their own users? For the money and the power that comes from having lots of it. In 2002, Google discovered that the raw human data it was collecting from its users to increase…

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Man chained to computer

How Social Media Are Ruining Our Lives

If we can’t stand five minutes in a lineup without checking our phones, we have a problem

Recently, Andrew McDiarmid interviewed Christian author Doug Smith about his book [Un]Intentional: How Screens Secretly Shape Your Desires, and How You Can Break Free (2018, updated 2021). Smith tries to help us navigate the unusual time in which we live, when many are absolutely glued to screens”: Doug Smith: I mean, it’s the families at the restaurant, all looking at their screens instead of looking at each other. It’s the near misses on the interstate because somebody was on their phone. I saw a photo recently of people in Ukraine that were waiting for their train to escape the trials there, and they’re all on their phone, right? I have a friend that’s a missionary in Papua, New Guinea, and…

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Musk Offers Twitter $41 Billion, Exciting Free Speech Advocates

Will Musk succeed in his effort to "unlock" Twitter's free speech potential?

News has moved fast since it was revealed last week that Elon Musk purchased a 9.2% stake in Twitter. Since then, Musk was offered a seat on Twitter’s board, an offer he at first accepted, and then declined. Now, Musk has upped the ante by offering to buy Twitter for $41 billion. In his letter to the board, Musk referenced his desire to make Twitter “the platform for free speech around the globe,” and stated that he has the ability to “unlock” Twitter’s “extraordinary potential.” Here’s his full letter: Bret TaylorChairman of the Board, I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is…

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Pinterest Bans Climate Change “Misinformation”

Pinterest might be the first company to implement such a strict ban, but what if it's not the last?

Last week, Pinterest banned climate change misinformation from its platform, becoming the first major social media company to do so outright. The policy raises free speech concerns. Since not all scientists agree on the nature of climate change, what causes it, and what the solutions are, how is the issue to be discussed if alternate points of view are banned from public platforms? Pinterest is an image-sharing social media site, where users share ideas that they can “pin” to their own boards on everything from recipes to interior design to fashion. On April 6, Pinterest announced their new climate misinformation policy, aimed at “remov[ing] content that may harm the public’s well-being, safety or trust.” As of the policy announcement, any…

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Dorsey Talks Decentralization and Musk Buys Twitter Share

Will this be the upset many free speech advocates hope it could be?

Last week, I wrote about the buzz around internet decentralization, especially as there appears to be talk at Twitter of moving in such a direction. The buzz continues, this time with vocal support from former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, coinciding with a bold financial move from Elon Musk. On April 2, Dorsey reminisced on Twitter about the early, decentralized days of the Internet, and said that centralization “really damaged the internet. I realize I’m partially to blame, and regret it.” The problems of social media platforms have been made clear in the past few years, specifically when it comes to data privacy and how to handle (or even define) harmful content while also respecting free speech. But there isn’t as much…

Web3 - Web3.0 - Semantic Web - New Iteration of the World Wide Web Through Decentralization Based on Blockchains

Could Decentralization Fix Twitter’s Censorship Problems?

Decentralization is not an automatic guarantee of internet freedom, but it may be a good first step

Twitter is considering decentralization according to a recent report from The New York Times. But what does decentralization mean, and how would it impact our experience with social media? Is this a solution to all the problems around censorship standards that Big Tech companies have faced in recent years? According to The New York Times, Twitter is following the early vision of a former employee named Blaine Cook by “funding an independent effort to build a so-called open protocol for social media. It is also weaving cryptocurrency into its app, and opening up to developers who want to build custom features for Twitter.” Kate Conger reports: Some skeptics believe Twitter is jumping on the web3 bandwagon, joining a trendy movement in tech to shift many…

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Meta Suspends Hate Speech Policy in Countries Near Russia

Hate speech and death threats against Russian and Belarusian political leaders and their militaries are temporarily allowed in twelve Eastern European countries

In a dramatic change of policy, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) will temporarily allow users of Facebook and Instagram in twelve countries to post hate speech and death threats directed toward Russian and Belarusian military personnel and political leaders within the context of the conflict in Ukraine. The change was first reported by Reuters on Thursday morning. A Meta spokesperson told Reuters, “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.” Calls for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are…

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YouTube Suspends News Show for Reporting on Misinformation

The show's host has accused YouTube of failing to "distinguish between misinformation and reporting"

Last week, YouTube suspended a popular daily news show from The Hill for including in its reporting footage of former President Donald Trump repeating the claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him, a claim that violates YouTube’s policies on misinformation. The co-hosts of the show have criticized the suspension, arguing that the policy, as enforced, is a threat to journalism on YouTube. One of the co-hosts posted about it on Twitter: Robby Soave and Ryan Grim co-host Rising, a daily morning news show for The Hill, one of the country’s leading political newspapers. Last week, they discovered that their channel had been temporarily suspended based on two videos that the show posted that had violated YouTube’s policies. The…

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Concept of accusation guilty person girl.

Why Is Cancel Culture Such a Big Part of Our Lives Today?

To understand the Twitter mob’s destruction of lives and careers, it’s essential to address the immense power of groupthink

Just in time for International Women’s Day, Emma Camp, a female student at the University of Virginia, reports experiencing a wave of hostility when she suggested that non-Indian women could legitimately criticize the practice of suttee, by which a woman burns to death on her husband’s funeral pyre, voluntarily or otherwise. The reaction on Twitter suggests that Cancel Culture is its lifeblood. Meanwhile, virologist Julie Overbaugh, a National Academy of Sciences member who has made many contributions to the study of viruses, has been forced out of her teaching and research leadership positions because she had worn a Michael Jackson costume to a Halloween “King of Pop” party in 2009. Curiously, although one of her cited offences in connection with…

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In State of the Union, Biden Vows to Curb Social Media Harms

Biden addressed the mental health harms of social media use on children and teens

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden referred to the harms of social media in his State of the Union address, announcing policy proposals to curb those harms. In response, however, some have been critical of the president’s remarks, accusing him of ignoring social media’s deeper dangers. Over an hour into his speech, President Biden turned to mental health and the emotional toll the pandemic has had, especially on children. Then he turned to the emotional health toll exacted by social media, long before the first COVID-19 lockdowns. “Children were also struggling before the pandemic – bullying, violence, trauma, and the harms of social media,” he said. “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop…

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Trump Releases Truth Social, Users Run Into Errors

The jury is out on whether this will stand as a true rival to Twitter

Last week, former President Trump unveiled his new social media app: Truth Social, a free-speech alternative to Twitter. It immediately became the number one free app on Apple’s App Store and boasted half a million users within its first forty-eight hours. But hiccups soon followed, including error messages and long wait times for access to the platform. The app went live on February 21, which was (perhaps not coincidentally) President’s Day. But those who signed up to join were automatically placed on a waitlist, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. When a Post reporter tried to sign up for a Truth social account on Tuesday morning, he was told that he was number 387,392 on a waitlist. “We love you, and you’re…

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Bored couple with sexual problem addicted to internet mobile phone.Relationship difficulties

Bedtime Media Can Help Us Get Better Sleep — But Not Social Media

One issue is the way blue lights and electronic notification and alert beeps interfere with natural sleep patterns

University of Buffalo communications prof Lindsay Hahn doesn’t think we need to avoid media before bedtime in order to get better sleep. Her recent research showed that the question was more complex than that: “We found that media use just prior to the onset of sleep is associated with an earlier bedtime and more total sleep time, as long as the duration of use is relatively short and you’re not multitasking, like texting or simultaneously scrolling social media,” says Lindsay Hahn, PhD, an assistant professor of communication in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences. “Watching a streaming service or listening to a podcast before bed can serve as a passive, calming activity that improves aspects of your…

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Man and woman shooting with gamepads while playing in virtual reality using VR headsets in the playing room

Take Control of Your Tech Before Metaverse Hits

Soon you will be enticed on all sides by a host of virtual worlds. They will look and feel very real and very cool

This story originally appeared at Newsmax. (February 17, 2022) Facebook’s recent name change to Meta has ushered in the Age of the Metaverse. Big Tech’s focus is shifting to a new frontier, the untamed wilds of the virtual world. Or is it worlds? Interestingly, the Germanic word world has a literal meaning of “age of man.” Which sounds quite fitting. But will the metaverse be an age that will see us grow and be nourished, as the root of age suggests? Or will we give in to our modern tendency toward laziness, entitlement and poor judgment? Before someone dares you to slip on a VR headset to get your first taste of the metaverse, get one thing straight — who is the boss of your tech? By…

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Fact Checkers Stifle Story on Government-Funded Crack Pipes

When official sources contradict each other, who has the authority to decide what is misinformation and what is not?

A Facebook fact-checking group censored a report released this week that the Biden Administration is providing grants that would fund the distribution of crack pipes to the addicted, labeling it as containing “partly false information” and burying any posts containing the report in users’ news feeds. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is operating a $30 million grant program for harm reduction, a strategy to combat drug addiction that seeks “to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of behavior associated with alcohol and other substance use.” Perhaps the best known harm reduction tactic has been the exchange or distribution of clean needles to the addicted. Now, it would…