“The cyborg future of truth,” a new piece on Medium from Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center, reflects on truth in today’s society and how technology will play a role in its future. In particular, Rainie considers the hope that increasing data availability and the interplay between humans and AI will help to reverse the current trends surrounding disinformation and deception (e.g., fake news).
Rainie discusses the changing notion of truth in detail, arguing that the constant exploitation of the truth is a product of our own behavior, of which he identifies the following four contributing factors:
- “First, we live in a world of “total noise” — a notion described by the great American writer David Foster Wallace.
- The second reason we are struggling with truth is tied to political polarization and the way it affects people’s judgments about civic information and about each other.
- The third reason truth is having a run for its money is that ‘attention economy’ businesses — especially social media platforms — incentivize what political cartoonist Tim Kreider calls ‘outrage porn.’
- That leads me to a new feature of the information ecosystem and the fourth factor giving truth a run for its money now. There are non-human actors that are part of the plot — bots and algorithms.”