Restoring not just truth but confidence
Lies and misinformation are, predominantly. transitory. But the changes that I think are critical have and are removing reliance on easily found factual viewpoints. In the past you would not take what you hear in a bar very seriously but if you did hear something that was interesting or surprising on current political affairs you would look for it in the newspaper or wait for the nightly news to see if it came up. If it wasn’t “reported” you could downgrade it’s possible importance.
The change is that we have lost the usually reliable sources as they are all us, now. So this is now circular which is the very nature of social media. That is in many ways more diverse and better but it nor for people who are uninformed or too lazy to check. And, although, vast repositories of information are now available to us on our pocket communicator, it’s overwhelming.
Years ago I would follow media on political issues and would have a fair idea of the validity and slant based on the editorial policy of the specific media. If it looked important or overly slanted I would go to the NYT and also the WSJ or, more likely, the Economist. The first two would give me the national consensus and the third would give me a conservative, international view of the topic. That was a fair amount of effort and cost some money, in those days, but I found it enjoyable enough that I didn’t mind. Also I could afford to subscribe to the Economist and most local newspapers used NYT and WSJ stories as their source beyond AP and UPI wire services.
Now we have the ability to find many different sources down to individual views and opinions from people who claim to be directly involved. To get some sense of validity we need to actively work through many such sources. And, unless you do some serious secondary research on the sources themselves, you have not much more assurance that you know the reality than you did to start. Who has the time?
So, in support of my point of how important this process is now, we are at the mercy of the low information population. And who can really blame them for being low information? Well, we can blame them and unless that changes we may not survive on this planet, but that isn’t going to change things or provide a plan of changes to make. Frankly, we may be facing evolutionary doom because we just don’t have what is needed for a planetary, full technology, information based civilization. But it is way too soon to give up.
The rise of fascist/nationalist, low order opportunists (who are also low information people) as well as racist and xenophobic ranters is a product of the low information population. We all know this. But the pseudo representative forms of government that worked well for about 150–200 years has no formal systems to distinguish information validity or formally rank people as to informational abilities. And so we now have a huge problem.
All of this was done to eliminate the formal class or caste systems that were brutal, arbitrary, and wasted most of the population who were simply exploited as labor until they died. That did not eliminate class structure or exploitation as that became things that were outsourced to the rising capitalist organizations and the dominant ethnic groups. Privileges were retained for those high ranking groups and were denied partially or completely to any other group. The whole thing could, then, be denied as nonexistent.
I’m saying we need to create an open (transparent) information validity system that people can have both control over and confidence in. Lies are both transitory and long lived. A new lie may also be the first indication of a new truth. Diversity is key. While I didn’t say it in this first shot at articulating these things, this will have to be AI based. It is too much for people to do. Obviously bias in the implemented algorithms must be eliminated. But, in a transparent publicly owned system for doing this, a la wikipedia, alternatives and challenges provide dynamic self correction.
At least that is what I hope.