Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategorySocial Media

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Woman hand using smart phone with lock icon graphic at coffee shop. Technology business concept.

Censoring the Censors? Florida’s Anti-Censorship Law

What exactly does the law do, and why is Big Tech sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it?

Originally published by Dr. Karl Stephan at Engineering Ethics On May 24, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill designed to stop social media firms from censoring free speech. At least that’s what the governor’s website claims it does. Two big-tech industry groups, Netchoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), sued the state of Florida in early June over the legislation, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1. What exactly does the law do, and why are organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it? People of certain political persuasions need not look far for motivations to pass such a law. Following the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 of this year,…

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Judge Holding Documents

Big Tech Sues Florida Over New Censorship Law

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are fighting back against a Florida law that seeks to reign them in

Technology trade companies representing Facebook, Twitter, and Google are suing Florida over its new law regulating the editorial and censorship powers of large social media platforms. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law on May 24, the first of its kind in the nation to curb the powers of online companies to remove and censor content and users. NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) – technology trade groups that have been vocal about their opposition to the law – filed the lawsuit against Florida the following Thursday in Tallahassee federal court. DeSantis and other supporters of the new law argue that its purpose is to safeguard the First Amendment rights of ordinary Florida citizens…

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technology and socialism

“AI is fastest path to Communism,” says Elon Musk’s partner

In a viral TikTok video, the singer/songwriter said AI will lead us to a world of leisure and no work

Social media was aflood yesterday with confusion and intrigue when Grimes – a Canadian singer/songwriter and 3-year partner to technological entrepreneur Elon Musk – said that “AI is actually the fastest path to communism” and encouraged communists to embrace the technology if they want to see their political dreams come true. Grimes (born Claire Elise Boucher) posted a short video to TikTok on Thursday, proposing that artificial intelligence could lead us to a utopia in which no one has to work and everyone lives in leisure: “I have a proposition for the communists. So, typically most of the communists I know are not big fans of AI. But if you think about it, AI is actually the fastest path to…

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YouTube on a phone

Big Tech Scrubs Religious Radio Show From YouTube

This isn't the first time YouTube has infringed on free speech

YouTube removed an entire radio show from its platform this week, hosted by popular Christian author and social commentator Eric Metaxas, citing violations of their community standards. Metaxas – author of biographies on the lives of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, and William Wilberforce, among many other books – announced the news to his social media pages on Tuesday. “It’s happened,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Despite our going FAR out of our way to comply with their arbitrary ‘community standards’, YouTube decided to remove every single video we’ve ever done on the Eric Metaxas Show off their platform.” The Eric Metaxas Radio Show, humorously called “The Show About Everything”, has featured a host of big name guests, including former…

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This is the State Capitol building. It has a large concrete stairway leading up to it with large columns holding up the facade.

Florida Governor Signs Bill Reining in Big Tech

The bill Governor DeSantis signed is the first in the nation to ban social media companies from deplatforming political candidates

In the current national battle between Big Tech and Big Government, a new Florida law will punish social media companies for discriminating against political viewpoints and deplatforming political candidates. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law on Monday. The legislation protects Florida citizens and political candidates from inequitable viewpoint censorship. “Now more than ever, social media has really become the twenty-first century public square,” John Snyder, a Representative in the Florida House, told Mind Matters News. “It’s evolved from what used to be just a platform where people could post thoughts and pictures to now this is a tool that people rely on to communicate with their family, to talk with their friends, to air their grievances, and really to…

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Fresco at Palace of Knossos in Crete

How a Searchable Database Is Helping Decipher a Lost Language

A cryptographer “solved” Minoan B from ancient Cretan culture in the 1950s but Minoan A remained a mystery until recently

There was once a flourishing civilization on the island of Crete called the Minoan culture (3000–11100 B.C.). Two languages are associated with it, Minoan A and, later, Minoan B. Minoan B was deciphered but Minoan A has remained a mystery that has “tormented linguists for many decades,” as Patricia Klaus puts it. Deciphering it would give us a window back as far as 1800 BC.: Linear A, which was used by the Minoans during the Bronze Age, exists on at least 1,400 known inscriptions made on clay tablets. The language has baffled the world’s top archaeologists and linguistic experts for many years. Patricia Claus, “Minoan Language Linear A Linked to Linear B in Groundbreaking New Research” at Greek Reporter (May…

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woman doing thumbs up positive gesture in shock face, looking skeptical and sarcastic, surprised with open mouth

Can the Machine Know You Are Just Being Sarcastic?

Researchers claim to have come up with an artificial intelligence program that can detect sarcasm on social media platforms

There’s an old joke about the bored engineering student slouched in the back of the Remedial English Grammar and Composition class. The instructor was lecturing on the use of negatives. In some languages, she explained, negatives can be piled on top of one another without changing the overall negative (“no”) meaning. But in English, adding two negatives together creates a positive. For example: “I am never going there again.” means just what it says (“never”). but “I am not ‘never going there again’” means that maybe you are going there again (“yes, if some changes are made”). The first negative negates the second. The teacher went on to say, “But there is no language in the world in which two…

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Deepfake concept matching facial movements with a different face of another person. Face swapping or impersonation.

Sci-fi Could Come To Life If You Fall For a Deepfake Friend

The friend you knew only online is a starkly believable software synthesis? A Carnegie Mellon prof says it could happen today

That’s the looming scenario astrophysicist and social scientist Simon DeDeo (pictured) sketched for journalist Kelly Catalfamo because the required technology — GPT-3, facial GANs, and voice synthesizers –- exists now. Catalfamo asks, Now imagine how you’d feel if you found out your friend didn’t really exist. Their profile turns out to be a Frankensteinian mashup of verbiage dreamed up by the powerful language generator GPT-3 and a face born from a generative adversarial network, perhaps with a deepfaked video clip thrown in here and there. How would it affect you to learn that you had become emotionally attached to an algorithm? And what if that “person” was designed to manipulate you, influencing your personal, financial, or political decisions like a…

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Happy april fool's day and funny pranks concept with a pair of comical glasses with bushy eyebrows and thick mustache isolated on blue background with copy space

Comedy: An Endangered Art Form in the Age of Rage?

A deeper issue underlies the current posturing against the Babylon Bee and the cartoon skunk PePe LePew

The Babylon Bee, an evangelical Christian satire site, has become unFunny to much of the elite commentariat of our day. The comedy gold the commentariat attacks has created says a good deal about the role of Big Social Media in funnelling and shaping our culture. Many commentators were not used to hearing their icons mocked, even gently. By 2019, fact-checking site Snopes started “fact-checking” obvious satire and the Bee responded (of course) with ridicule. But a New York Times headline of the day raises the issue that must really have been nagging at many aspirants to social power: “Satire or Deceit? Christian Humor Site Feuds With Snopes.” The Bee has its defenders, notably David French: Snopes has fact-checked whether Democrats…

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Mailman Delivering Mail

U.S. Postal Service Secretly Monitoring Social Media Posts

Legal experts don't understand why the Post Office is involved in online government surveillance

According to a government document obtained by Yahoo News, the U.S. Postal Service has been secretly monitoring the social media posts of American citizens. The covert operation, conspicuously known as the Internet Covert Operations Program (or iCOP), has been conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service. Normally, USPIS is responsible for protecting the functions of USPS as well as its employees. Branching out into online surveillance is both unexpected and surprising to many experts. “It’s a mystery,” University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone told Yahoo. “I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.” Likewise, Rachel Levinson-Waldman, deputy…

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Spread your influence and opinions to other people. Good cultural and powerful bad effect. Undue unwholesome sway. Business leader concept.

How Erik Larson Hit on a Method for Deciding Who Is Influential

The author of The Myth of Artificial Intelligence decided to apply an algorithm to Wikipedia — but it had to be very specific

Here’s another interview (with transcript) at Academic Influence with Erik J. Larson, author of The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do (2021). The book was #2 at Amazon as of 11:00 am EST today in the Natural Language Processing category. In this interview, Larson talks about how he developed an algorithm to rank people by the amount of influence they have, using Wikipedia. That was one of the projects that got him thinking about myths of artificial intelligence. It began with his reading of Hannah Arendt, a philosopher of totalitarianism: Excerpt (0:04:25.0) Erik Larson: And she has a whole philosophy of technology that I was reading as background to write The Myth of Artificial…

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Changing the Past

China: Snitching on Those Who Recall Non-Approved History

The Communist Party of China wants its centennial to proceed this year without memory of the millions dead in the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and Tiananmen Square

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell, 1984 The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was formed on July 23, 1921, so is gearing up for the hundredth anniversary of its founding with the theme “Forever Following the Party.” In preparation, the Cyberspace Administration of China has launched a hotline for citizens to report online statements that contradict the Party’s official version of its history. A translation of the announcement from the Central Network Information Office Reporting Center is available on former American diplomat David Cowhig’s blog: One part of the announcement reads: In order to avoid misleading the public with false statements, maintain a clear cyberspace and create a good atmosphere…

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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

When Half Our Time Is Spent Online, We Live in a Delusional World

A historian warns that many of us now live in bubbles where we need interact only with people who agree with us

Historian Adam Seagrave (pictured) reflects on the finding that more than half of Americans spend more than half of their waking time in “virtual worlds”: Living through electronic media, especially social media, causes us to live in entirely different worlds even from near neighbors: “The 50 percent threshold represents a tipping point that renders dialogue, deliberation, civic friendship, and compromise extraordinarily difficult in any society.” According to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey, roughly eight in ten Americans go online at least daily. Almost three in ten American adults say they are “almost constantly” online. According to a 2019 Digital Information World report, internet users in the United States spend an average of 6 hours and 31 minutes online every…

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Lorem ipsum text that has been redacted

What Your News Feed Will Look Like If Big Tech Runs It

Reading Elkus’s essay, one wants to ask, “Who is the collective ‘we’ who are supposed to be out of control?”

In an essay at The New Atlantis, Adam Elkus, a graduate student in computational social science at George Mason University, reflects on a curious change in public panics in recent years: Pundits’ obsession with AI doom has given way to “primal fear of primates posting,” with demands that top government or Big Tech crack down on social media: Once upon a time — just a few years ago, actually — it was not uncommon to see headlines about prominent scientists, tech executives, and engineers warning portentously that the revolt of the robots was nigh. The mechanism varied, but the result was always the same: Uncontrollable machine self-improvement would one day overcome humanity. A dismal fate awaited us. We would be…

Texas State Capitol Rotunda
Texas State Capitol Rotunda

Texas Senate Passes Bill Prohibiting Big Tech Censorship

The bill seeks to reign in Big Tech power and protect the principle of free speech for Texas citizens

Last week, the Texas Senate passed a measure that would prohibit large social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from censoring political and religious viewpoints of Texas citizens. The bill now awaits a vote in the Texas House. Senate Bill 12 was introduced in March by State Senator Bryan Hughes. Titled “Relating to the censorship of users’ expressions by an interactive computer service,” the bill would not only prohibit censorship, but would require social media companies to disclose their moderation policies, publish reports about any blocked content, and create a legal route for people to appeal any censoring or deplatforming decisions. Social media companies currently enjoy legal protections against lawsuit under Section 230 of the U.S. Code, which on the…

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red vs orange

Parler vs. Amazon: Amazon Strikes Back!

Amazon is trying to avoid a state lawsuit through a hardball legal maneuver
Parler, an alternative social networking site, has been in a fierce legal battle with AWS/Amazon since it was removed from Amazon's platforms on January 10. Read More ›
Heritage-Building
Heritage Building

Influential Think Tank Declines Big Tech Donations

The Heritage Foundation declined six-figure donations from Big Tech companies Facebook and Google in 2020, citing repeated censorship of conservative views

News website Axios obtained letters signed by Heritage Foundation‘s departing President Kay Coles James (pictured), addressed to the CEOs of both Facebook and Google in October 2020, explaining why Heritage felt compelled to decline the six-figure contributions from the companies. “We cannot in good conscience take money from a company that repeatedly, and blatantly, suppresses conservative speech on your platforms,” reads the letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.  A similar statement is made in the letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.  Heritage declined $225,000 from Google, and returned $150,000 that came from Facebook. The Heritage Foundation made several accusations against the companies in its letters, including: that Facebook suppressed their reach by blocking referral traffic; that Facebook targeted Heritage with third-party fact-checkers; and that Google…

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Details of diversity used horse reins

Can Big Tech and Big Social Media Be Reined In?

A number of strategies to limit their power or make them share the wealth are being evaluated, both among governments and private think tanks

Big Tech’s recent censorship moves have revived the debate about what, exactly, the new social media are? Are they publishers like HarperCollins or carriers like Ma Bell? Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act exempts the Bigs from liability as publishers. But, unlike carriers, they can act against messages in their system that they don’t like. Generally, they benefit from a fuzziness that is not granted to other institutions. It’s probably not accidental that most Big Social Media are domiciled in the United States. Canada, to name just one other country, does not offer Twitter that protection. The scale of the conflict is expected to grow and a number of strategies to limit the Big Social Media’s power or…

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Thumbs up on bricks wall

Facebook Exec Admits the Company Has Too Much Power

He worries, talking with an undercover reporter, that Zuckerberg is 36 and is “the ruler” of two billion people

In a video titled “KING ZUCK: Facebook Global Planning Lead Reveals Dire Need For Government Intervention In Facebook” (March 15, 2021), we hear an insider’s view from Benny Thomas, Facebook’s Global Planning Lead— who told what he knew to a Project Veritas undercover reporter. From the undercover interview: Benny Thomas: I’ll make less money but it will be a better thing for the world. Facebook and Google are too powerful and they need to be made less powerful … It needs to be broken up the way the telecom companies were broken up and the oil companies were broken up.” No king in the history of the world has been the ruler of two billion people. And he’s 36. [a…

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Finger touching phone with social media concept and dark background

Why Do Some People Try To Poison Big Tech’s Data Well?

Some social media users confuse Big Tech about their interests so as to preserve privacy and rein in relentless marketing campaigns

Here’s an article on a theme you probably didn’t expect to read about in a top tier tech magazine: How to poison the data Big Tech collects about you. It’s certainly evidence of the growing discontent with Monopoly Power and Big Surveillance: Now researchers at Northwestern University are suggesting new ways to redress this power imbalance by treating our collective data as a bargaining chip. Tech giants may have fancy algorithms at their disposal, but they are meaningless without enough of the right data to train on. Karen Hao, “How to poison the data that Big Tech uses to surveil you” at Technology Review (March 5, 2021) Researchers Nicholas Vincent and Hanlin Li presented a paper at the recent Association…