Can we still handle the truth? Journalism, ‘alternative facts’ and the rise of AI – The Guardian
“We got elected on Drain the Swamp, Lock Her Up, Build a Wall. This was pure anger. Anger and fear is what gets people to the polls,” Steve Bannon told Bloomberg’s Michael Lewis. “The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.” The news cycle was already moving too fast, already angry and partisan, but flooding the zone went further, aiming to deliberately overwhelm people with conflicting information to the point where they gave up on ever finding the truth, or turned off news altogether, or chose to blindly follow a side, a team. And once people identify with a side, once opinions become integrated into an understanding of personal belonging, they are heavily and instinctively motivated not to assess available information but rather to seek out information that supports their team view, which, on the internet, is always possible to find. […]
The obvious potential [of AI] is for a torrent of unreliable information that would leave Steve Bannon in the shade, vast quantities of articles, books and reviews so laced with mistakes and falsehoods that we completely lose sight of where truth lies and consumers of news and information are even more baffled and overwhelmed and potentially misinformed than they were before. As Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism and Guardian board member, wrote this year: “The real peril lies outside the world of instantaneous deception, which can be easily debunked, and in the area of creating both confusion and exhaustion by ‘flooding the zone’ with material that overwhelms the truth or at least drowns out more balanced perspectives.