Weapons-Grade Chatbot and Turing Test – computers outsmart humans for good or evil? #artificialintelligence #algorithms #FakeNews #FactCheck #FactsMatter

angry at something on the screenYour news source may be an algorithm.

The Turing test evaluates conversations between a human and a machine:

Developed by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Wikipedia

Maybe in conversation we can still spot a machine, but not in posts and articles. There’s a new text-generating algorithm that can write compelling articles without any ethical need to be truthful.

Last week, the nonprofit research group OpenAI revealed that it had developed a new text-generation model that can write coherent, versatile prose given a certain subject matter prompt. However, the organization said, it would not be releasing the full algorithm due to “safety and security concerns.” Slate

The algorithm was happy to write an article when prompted with nonsense like “scientists discover a herd of unicorns…” or “Russia declares war on the United States…”

Some observers think the danger to political discourse and public understanding of science is exaggerated, but if so, that will be temporary. How will you know what to believe any more on social media? On blogs? Can a giant like Facebook find a way to detect and delete such articles? Can you and I?

It will get worse. Software is being developed to create video and audio files too. If you think crazy memes mislead people today, imagine fake images of real people better than any CGI you’ve seen in the movies.

Perhaps we’ll lose faith in all news on social media and revert to viewing nothing but lol cats and baby pictures.

Fact checkers will be more important than ever, but we already have trouble agreeing on which fact checkers to trust. People are likely to seize on one source to trust and give up trying to evaluate what they see. Because sorting truth from lies can be hard and no one is an expert in everything.

You’ll be granting a lot of power to whomever you choose to follow. Be careful, because as the saying goes, power corrupts. We’re in for a wild ride.

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Does Reality Matter? #reality #science #politics #dnc #rnc #reason

Hartwig HKD

Hartwig HKD

I usually stay away from politics on this blog, but America’s two major political parties have their conventions in July so it’s hard to resist. The Republicans are done and the Democrats are about to begin. Conventions are an opportunity to revel in the echo chamber, to be surrounded by those who agree with you.

And to ignore facts in favor of politics.

I was reminded of that by a piece in Live Science. This article fact-checks truthiness in the Republican platform but I don’t doubt you’ll find similar fabrications when the Democrats issue their platform. It seems that anyone zealously bound to a position is immune to information. Each extreme dismisses different facts, but they both do it.

Even a depressing reality is better than a fantasy however pleasant, because reality wins in the end. I try to read multiple opinions and fact-checks, and to be ready to change my mind. It takes conscious effort.

Once a human being embraces a position, proofs and facts are abandoned, and showing a person contradictory facts just makes them more angry and more determined to dig in deeper.

That’s because we are each grounded in moral foundations deeply important to our vision of who we are – more important than any fact.

Friendly relations, commonality, and trust make it easier for people to listen to each other. More important than presenting facts is establishing bonds with people before you try to convince them. Try it. You might both see the issue in a new light.

I read a book with insight to this aspect of human behavior and reviewed it here for a friend’s blog. I also posted a piece on how to talk with people who disagree with you: Don’t be a jerk.

Keep in mind what Carl Sagan said:

In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

This is why science inspires me and also why I’m optimistic about the future. Let your open heart lead to an open mind and we can build a better world.