Category Archives: Tools

Zuckerberg admits that Artificial Intelligence is not a magic bullet

It still requires human intervention:

“There’s certainly a lot that A.I. can do, we can train classifiers to identify content, but most of what we do is identify things that people should look at.”

Source: Facebook’s Zuckerberg Speaks On Cambridge Analytica Scandal | Time
As pointed out on this blog, the capabilities of AI/machine learning have been significantly over stated. Adding more software is not going to solve these problems. Many problems need new business procedures, not software to automate ineffective business procedures.

Google launches program to combat fake news

Of course, it could end up with biases that turn it into yet-another propaganda operation, by flagging legitimate stories that have “wrong public opinion orientation”.

On our own platforms, we’re focused on combating misinformation during breaking news situations.  Bad actors often target breaking news on Google platforms, increasing the likelihood that people are exposed to inaccurate content. So we’ve trained our systems to recognize these events and adjust our signals toward more authoritative content. There are comparable challenges on YouTube, and we’re taking a similar approach, highlighting relevant content from verified news sources in a “Top News” shelf.
But we’re also working directly with news organizations to combat misinformation. We’re launching the Disinfo Lab alongside the First Draft to combat mis- and disinformation during elections and breaking news moments. Finally, to help consumers distinguish fact from fiction online,  we’re teaming up with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, and the Local Media Association to launch MediaWise, a U.S. project designed to improve digital information literacy for young consumers.

Source: The Google News Initiative: Building a stronger future for news
This initiative will be used, and certainly gamed by many parties, to censor information not coming from approved sources. In other words, this could devolve into quite a propaganda coup.

Facebook aims to be less useful to you

Had this announcement in my notifications today:

Facebook intends to stop showing me content that I actually want to see. You can turn this off but it requires manual intervention to regain control over what you want to see, rather than what Facebook thinks you want to see.

  • First, when Facebook decides what you see, Facebook is acting as an editorial director.
  • Second, when Facebook decides what you see, Facebook is potentially promoting propaganda. It does not matter that this editorial selection is conducted by algorithms.

I learned long ago that working in any field for a period of time warps our thinking.
After two decades in the computer software industry, my brain was brainwashed into thinking all the world’s problems could be solved with software solutions. Everyone in tech sincerely believes that everything is just a software or tech problem!
After those two decades, I went to grad school and earned an MBA. I spent my time hanging out with people who did not work in the tech sector and discovered that not everything is solved with tech. I also learned many others believe that most of the world’s problems can be solved with what ever their expertise is in!
Indeed, all the way back as an undergraduate in computer science, in a private conversation with a professor of statistics, he said, “When you get down it, life is nothing but statistics. Everything in life is statistics!” Like all of us buried in a specialty, we only see the world through the eyes of our specialty
It’s as if, when all you have is a hammer, the entire world starts to look like a nail – hah hah.
Many years ago I attended a public community meeting where there were 22 people in attendance – 21 of which worked in health care, plus me, who did not. 21 of the attendees believed every community problem was a health care problem! Seriously, crime was a health care problem! Public bus transportation was a health care problem! By the time the meeting was over with, probably four dozen community problems were identified and each and every one of them could be solved through better access to health care and more subsidy money spent on health care.
And on and on.
The point is that Facebook, Google, and Twitter all believe any problems they have in their propaganda platforms being abused is just a software problem. More software will solve this! That’s because to them when all they have is software, the whole world looks like a software problem.
The tech sector needs to get out of its Get Smart-level Cone of Silence bubble and recognize that problems require a multi-disciplinary approach and solutions. For now, they are proceeding down the nonsensical, inward focused “it’s just a software problem”. 
They and many others do not yet realize that the propaganda problem on social media is not the messages, it’s the medium.