Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Todays News Headlines Hot Breaking Stories Updates 3d Illustration

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…

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Mobilna nawigacja GPS na tablecie.

Lawmakers to Google Maps: Leave Crisis Pregnancy Centers Alone!

Seventeen state attorneys’ general have warned Google not to alter map search results in response to abortion activists’ demands

Recently, abortion activists were demanding that Google Maps crack down on crisis pregnancy centers that offer help other than abortion. In response, a group of 17 state attorneys general led by Texas Attorney-General Ken Paxton sent a letter dated July 21, asking Google to “advise the co-signing Attorneys General whether it has adjusted its search results and advertisements to discriminate against crisis pregnancy centers, and if so, how.” It reads in part, Unfortunately, several national politicians now seek to wield Google’s immense market power by pressuring the company to discriminate against pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in Google search results, in online advertising, and in its other products, such as Google Maps. As the chief legal officers of our respective States,…

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Hand holding mobile smart phone, with notification icons and city background

Facebook Blinks: No Longer Wants to Censor COVID “Misinformation”

Global Affairs President Nick Clegg has revealed that Facebook is seeking the guidance of its Oversight Board about removing “false claims”

Citing the view that the COVID-19 pandemic has “evolved,” Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is deciding whether to continue removing “misinformation” about the pandemic from the platform: Meta has asked the company’s Oversight Board, which is funded by Meta but operates independently, to decide whether removing “false claims about masks, social distancing and vaccines” on Facebook is still appropriate as “countries around the world seek to return to more normal life,” Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said Tuesday in a blog post. Sherri Walsh, “Facebook parent Meta to reconsider removing COVID-19 misinformation” at UPI (July 26, 2022) The U.S. government had put a lot of pressure on Meta, as UPI notes, and Facebook removed 25 million items of information.…

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Search.

Life Beyond Google Search: Try the Other Search Engines

Recently, DuckDuckGo was found to be tracking users sometimes, due to a deal with Microsoft. No matter, there are many search engines now…

Search engine DuckDuckGo — famous for not tracking users — lost some favor recently, after its CEO had to admit that it does sometimes track users: Security researcher Zack Edwards this week revealed that DuckDuckGo’s mobile browsers allow some Microsoft sites to bypass its block on trackers. While the browser blocks Facebook and Google trackers, DuckDuckGo makes an exception for some of Microsoft’s. Edwards found that the browsers allow allows data to be sent to Microsoft’s LinkedIn and Bing domains DuckDuckGo said the exemption was due to a search agreement with Microsoft. Thomas Macaulay, “DuckDuckGo faces widespread backlash over tracking deal with Microsoft” at The NextWebMay 26, 2022 DuckDuckGo’s CEO Gabriel Weinberg pointed out to disappointed users that the company…

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cyber bullying concept. people using notebook computer laptop for social media interactions with notification icons of hate speech and mean comment in social network

Social Media Can Literally Kill. It Killed Cheslie Chryst

Chryst’s suicide — and Constant Wu’s thwarted attempt — spotlight the toxic cyberbullying that is intrinsic to Big Tech’s formula for success

[This article is republished with permission from the New York Post (July 23, 2022) where it appeared under the title “Constance Wu’s suicide tweet proves social media can mean life or death.”] “Looking back, it’s surreal that a few DMs convinced me to end my own life, but that’s what happened.”  Last week, actress Constance Wu confessed on Twitter that she had tried to take her own life after she made “careless tweets” about the renewal of her TV show, ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat,” in May 2019. “So upset right now that I’m literally crying,” she had posted about the show’s renewal, which had forced her to give up another project she was passionate about. As would be expected on a public…

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Social media concept. Social networking service. Video hosting website. Streaming video.

Big Social Media Must Appear in A-Gs’ COVID Censorship Lawsuit

Two states’ Attorneys General are suing officeholders and public officials over COVID-19 and have sent subpoenas to Meta, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

Missouri’s and Louisiana’s Attorneys General are suing federal government figures over suppression and censorship of COVID-19 information. Meta (Facebook’s parent company), YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn have been issued third party subpoenas (they are ordered to appear in court). The lawsuit begun by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry …requests all communications with Mark Zuckerberg from Jan. 1, 2020, to the present. Also requested were any communications to any social media platform relating to the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a letter published in October 2020. The letter was published in response to COVID-19 policies that recommended “focused protection,” an approach to reaching herd immunity by allowing those at minimal risk of death to live normal lives…

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Double exposure of business woman and Big Data concept. Digital neural network.Introduction of artificial intelligence. Cyberspace of future.Science and innovation of technology.city background.

Google’s Most Ambitious Project to Date: Reshaping Your Thinking

Controlling so much communication — and fired up by ideology — it’s in a better position for that than many suppose

In a column yesterday at Spiked, urban studies specialist Joel Kotkin, author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (2020), provided depressing evidence that the power of Big Tech is beginning to genuinely resemble the power medieval lords had over their serfs. It’s not just an office joke any more. Google, he recounts, was part of an anti-authoritarian high tech culture when it went public in 2004. Its search engine technology, and others, were seen as empowering the little guy. In 2018, for unclear reasons, Google dropped the famous “Don’t be evil” slogan. Since then, in Kotkin’s view, it is “increasingly becoming a force not for good, but for, well, evil.” He musters an impressive…

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Confident mature man in elegant shirt and tie telling something while making social media video

How Social Media Are Changing Politics From the Ground Up

Campaigns are much and easier to organize online so lawmakers may be hearing from people they didn’t used to

The internet has been a boon for citizen lobbyists. Everyone from societies for animal protection through environment activists and legal pot activists is offering tips, primers, and courses to those who want to influence government without quitting their day job and moving to the capital. . European law prof Alberto Alemanno spotted the trend and wrote a book about it, Lobbying for Change: Find Your Voice to Create a Better Society (2017): Participation now happens with little cost or effort. And it means that a greater number of citizens – who have traditionally not participated – are becoming more politically active, or at least more open to persuasion by those that are. People have also become politically more promiscuous. Today’s…

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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…

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Icon group as speech bubble cloud

Twitter vs. Musk: The Many Different Ways the Story Could End

Twitter, which didn’t really want Musk, is now suing to make him its boss. They all hate each other. Can this work?

In the most recent episode of the Musk and Twitter show, Twitter was suing driverless car entrepreneur Elon Musk to compel him to buy the company at the original posted price — despite the fact that earlier, many employees didn’t want him to buy it at all. Also despite the fact that he says he no longer wants to. Readers, this is happening only because Big Tech stock values are way down. A useful article by technology reporter Alex Sherman at CNBC (July 11, 2022) identifies eight ways the saga could end, namely 1 and 4: Musk just ends up paying the $1B breakup fee or some other settlement and Twitter continues with its meltdowns and bot problems, as long…

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One round power on and off button

Taking Our Lives Back from Big Tech, a Step at a Time

If we don’t have the time to stop and reflect because we are too busy checking our social media…

In a recent podcast, “Weaving the Technology of Our Lives” (July 14, 2022), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed tech and culture writer Andrew McDiarmid on the deep ways Big Tech governs our lives — ways of which we are often unaware — and concrete steps for taking control back: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/07/Mind-Matters-195-Andrew-McDiarmid.mp3 Here’s a partial transcript and notes. Additional Resources follow: Robert J. Marks: We have been talking about Jacques Ellul’s concept of technique… Andrew McDiarmid: Well, Jacques Ellul was a French sociologist, theologian, and philosopher of technology … Ellul’s lifetime spanned almost the entire 20th century, 1911 to 1994. He wrote books and articles throughout his career on how he saw technology impacting the “human adventure,” as he…

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Twitter handle with care

Elon Musk Has Walked Out on Twitter … Or Has He?

Some think it’s all theater. Others that he is compelling a price reduction “by other means”

Yesterday, Elon Musk announced that he was backing out of the deal to buy Twitter, which he was hoping to turn into more of a free speech platform: Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of Tesla (TSLA.O) and the world’s richest person, said on Friday he was terminating his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter (TWTR.N) because the social media company had breached multiple provisions of the merger agreement. Greg Roumeliotis, “Twitter vows legal fight after Musk pulls out of $44 billion deal” at Reuters (July 9, 2022) Twitter plans to fight: The Twitter Board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the…

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World twitter Connection on Blackboard

Twitter Now Suing India’s Government Over Its Censorship Demands

Meanwhile, on July 4, new owner-to-be Elon Musk tweets a jab at Twitter’s own censors: the British government “fact checks” Paul Revere

Twitter, never out of the news for long these days, is suing the government of India over censorship issues: On Tuesday, the U.S. social media platform asked an Indian court to overturn some of the government orders to kill posts, which Delhi had accused of spreading misinformation. They included posts that backed farmer protests and tweets critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter called the crackdown overbroad and arbitrary, with the government demonstrating an “excessive use of powers”. Rina Chandran, “Twitter battles India for control of social media content” at Thomson Reuters Foundation News (July 6, 2022) No date is yet set for the hearing. Observers might be surprised by Twitter’s anti-censorship stance here, given the history…

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Happy pregnant woman visit gynecologist doctor at hospital or medical clinic for pregnancy consultant. Doctor examine pregnant belly for baby and mother healthcare check up. Gynecology concept.

Activists to Google Maps: Crack Down on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Overall, the U.S. abortion rate has been in decline for about thirty years, for a variety of reasons, including available alternatives

When the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs decision (June 24, 2022) that “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion” (SCOTUSblog) returned the abortion issue to the state legislatures, a number crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that do not offer abortion have been attacked by abortion militants. One source the militants appear to be using is an online map of such centers created by University of Georgia biostatisticians Andrea Swartzendruber and Danielle Lambert, who call them “fake women’s health centers.” For example: Puget Sound Anarchists posted a link to the map in a post made about a vandalism at a Vancouver, Washington pregnancy center. Crisis pregnancy center Options 360 was vandalized with red paint, and the phrase “Jane’s Revenge.” The…

The concept of the human brain. The right creative hemisphere versus the left logical hemisphere. Education, science and medical abstract background.

When a Neurosurgeon and a Biologist Keep On Arguing…

… we suspect some pretty basic science issues are involved

In a recent ID: The Future podcast (June 24, 2022) Casey Luskin interviews pediatric neurosurgeon Michael Egnor on his blogosphere debates with evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. Egnor, who has authored many research papers, espouses a non-materialist view of the mind — and of life in general — with which Dr. Coyne, a committed atheist, emphatically disagrees. Here’s a partial transcript from “A Brain Surgeon Debates Evolutionist Jerry Coyne and Other Atheists”: Casey Luskin: We’re going to talk about these debates you’ve had with Dr. Coyne and others. Some of the arguments you’ve made, I think, have been very compelling. But before we get into that, I’d like to ask, why do you focus your writing so much on Dr. Jerry…

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close up man hand type on keyboard laptop to use search engine optimization (SEO) tools for finding customer or promote and advertise about content online for marketing technology and business concept

The Brave Search Engine Survives. So Does Privacy Still Matter?

Despite Google’s overwhelming dominance, Brave clocked 2.5 billion searches since this time last year

Last year, we wrote about the Brave search engine, headed up by Mozilla pioneer Brendan Eich. Brave Search offered the first true alternative to Google since Bing by introducing a third English language index and protecting user privacy. A nice idea, many have thought, but who really cares? So what if Big Tech makes largely unaccountable billions from marketing our information, as long as the social media services it provides remain free? So perhaps surprisingly, Brave is hanging on. Tech maven Jacob Carpenter noted recently at Fortune that, while Google owns 92.5% of the search market business according to StatCounter, that number hasn’t changed much over a decade. And Brave is reporting 2.5 billion searches from its current search engine’s…

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Social media concept.

Should Kids Under 16 Be Banned From Social Media?

An internal study by Instagram found that using the platform made fully one-third of teenage girls feel worse — but they couldn’t stop

(This article by Texas State University engineering prof Karl D. Stephan originally appeared at Engineering Ethics Blog (June 20, 2022) under the title “Social Media: For adults only?” and is reprinted with permission.) Writing in National Review, cultural critic Christine Rosen recently proposed a total ban on social media for everyone under the age of 16.  One can imagine all sorts of problems with this idea, ranging from enforcement issues to what it would be like living in a country where nearly all the teenagers start screaming at the same time.  But let’s step back from the immediate issues and effects, and ask what the ethics of such a ban would be.  Rosen cites a number of other things that we don’t let…

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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…

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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.…

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Toilet paper shortage coronavirus panic buying man hoarding carrying many rolls at home in fear of corona virus outbreak closing shopping stores.

Economist Faces Painful Truths About COVID-19 Information Dump

Jeffrey A. Tucker admits he was wrong to think that just giving people more information would reduce panic — or that Big Tech was a force for human freedom

Economist Jeffrey A. Tucker, president of the Brownstone Institute, shares some thoughts about what he learned about the spread and management of information from the response to COVID-19. Two things he learned are especially worth noting. At one time, Tucker, who describes himself as a “Victorian Whig” (an old-fashioned liberal), believed that merely giving people access to more accurate information would improve our response to crises. He had good reason to believe that: Historically, dictators like Stalin, Hitler, or Xi have restricted access to information in order to keep the public easy to control. So what happened when, in the Western world, the internet opened the dam? The speed and abundance of information actually amplified error. At the height of…