Monday, May 03, 2021

Are We Polarized Or Suffering From Propaganda?


Peter Singer update (New Yorker)

Is the frogmouth the most photogenic bird?

Are We Polarized Or Suffering From Propaganda?

“Systemic polarization, as it is usually told, is a basically symmetrical story. Polarization arises from a social dynamic that afflicts almost everybody. The social forces at play—social mobility, online media bubbles, algorithmic filtering—are pervasive, and their effect is nearly universal. Like-minded individuals naturally clump together and end up boosting each others’ confidence unreasonably. Conservatives and progressives are approximately as vulnerable and approximately as blameworthy. On the other hand, the propaganda story is usually told asymmetrically: one side is stuck in the propaganda machine, the other side fighting against it. It is certainly possible to tell the propaganda story about both sides, but symmetry isn’t baked into its core.” – Boston Review

Open letter from John Keane about ‘foreign interference’ at Sydney University.

Dear Colleagues and Friends, Many of you will have spotted recent media reports that our University, the University of Sydney, contracted the chartered accountancy firm McGrathNicol Advisory, to provide an external audit of the patterns of foreign interference in the workings of our institution....

The Coming AI Hackers – Bruce Schneier – “Artificial intelligence—AI—is an information technology. It consists of software. It runs on computers. And it is already deeply embedded into our social fabric, both in ways we understand and in ways we don’t. It will hack our society to a degree and effect unlike anything that’s come before. I mean this in two very different ways. One, AI systems will be used to hack us. And two, AI systems will themselves become hackers: finding vulnerabilities in all sorts of social, economic, and political systems, and then exploiting them at an unprecedented speed, scale, and scope. 

CEO Pay Remains Stratospheric Even at Companies Battered by Pandemic

The New York Times – “…The coronavirus plunged the world into an economic crisis, sent the U.S. unemployment rate skyrocketing and left millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet. Yet at many of the companies hit hardest by the pandemic, the executives in charge were showered with riches. The divergent fortunes of C.E.O.s and everyday workers illustrate the sharp divides in a nation on the precipice of an economic boom but still racked by steep income inequality. The stock markets are up and the wealthy are spending freely, but millions are still facing significant hardship. Executives are minting fortunes while laid-off workers line up at food banks…”