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RS 217 - Aviv Ovadya on "The problem of false, biased, and artificial news"

Release date: September 16th, 2018

Aviv Ovadya

Aviv Ovadya, an expert on misinformation, talks with Julia about the multiple phenomena that get lumped together as "fake news": articles that are straightforwardly false, misleading, or artificially created (think "Deepfakes," videos that make a politician appear to say something he didn't say). Aviv and Julia discuss questions like: Which of those problems are more dangerous for our civilization? Are any of them tractable? And what might a solution look like?


Aviv's Website

"Is the First Amendment Obsolete?" by Tim Wu

"What Hath We Wrought" by Danah Boyd

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Reader Comments (5)

Another stimulating podcast.

Synthetic Media promises to create a disaster for news and politics. Except for blockchain, none of the solutions Aviv mentions really have any potential effectiveness.

Some of the Conspiracy Theories Alex Jones promotes have some merit, but many of them have no merit at all. Politicians themselves have started to use Fake News and conspiracy theories to promote their agendas. This will shock you:

Vice News "11 Times Donald Trump Sounded A Lot Like Alex Jones"

Tim Wu makes a lot of good arguments in his commentary "Is the First Amendment Obsolete?" However, the First Amendment has just as much vitality and importance today as it ever did. The private marketplace, NOT the government, should regulate the quality of speech. As a starting point, major platforms should privately enforce civility by (1) Allowing users to delete comments on their user posts and videos, (2) Deleting Malicious Defamatory (Obviously Untrue) Statements, and (3) Removing Vulgar Insults (Including True Threats). This would improve the quality of discourse immensely, and reasonable users would quickly gravitate towards and favor platforms that foster polite and intelligent discussions.

The government could also try to break up the major platforms, but new dominant platforms would probably emerge as a simple result of the free market process. Furthermore, the government has no legitimate authority to arbitrarily break up platforms merely due to the presence of impolite and fake discourse.

Legal immigrants actually commit slightly fewer crimes than native born US Citizens. However, the NAZIs first required firearm registration, and then seized all citizen firearms, and many US politicians genuinely would like to do the same.
September 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJameson
"Researchers claim new algorithm beats humans at spotting fake news"
"The researchers used linguistic analysis to look at grammatical structure, word choice, punctuation and complexity to parse out fake news."
"Humans were able to spot hoax stories 70 percent of the time while their algorithm was able to spot fake news 76 percent of the time."

It's funny that Julia said, "I saw this issue of identifying and disincentivizing biased and false news as being AI-complete plus, in that having human level intelligence would be necessary, but not sufficient to solve it."
But what if it's one of those things that humans are so bad at, that they're worse than computers?
September 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMax

Firstly, people need to realize that economics constitutes a humanity, not a science. That way people can accept that economics makes tremendous approximations in its analysis.

Economists do in fact often serve the purposes of their powerful masters. A certain extremely prominent economist, name omitted, rated multiple Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO) as AAA, when clearly he should have rated them TOTAL JUNK (well below B). The clients of his employer benefited from the deceptively high ratings since they could sell more debt for higher prices. Then, after the 2008 Great Recession, that VERY SAME economist testified to the US Congress that bailing out state pension plans and banks, many of them clients of his employer and the customers of the clients of his employer, would have a much greater stimulus effect than cutting taxes and discharging mortgage debt !!

Someone should host a Chris Fuld vs Steve Keen debate !!

Interesting that people reduce tobacco consumption in advance of an announced increase in tobacco tax. Do companies increase capital expenditures in advance of an announced corporate tax cut ?
October 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJameson
The most interesting part for me (not implying that the rest wasn't interesting) was the critique Julia made of Robin Hanson. Given that Scott mentioned on SSC that he also doubts the signaling model when it comes to medicine (although he agreed strongly in the narrow case of dying relatives), it made me update significantly towards not believing it as strongly anymore. I would be extremely interested in hearing a podcast with Robin Hanson about the rationality assumption in economics in particular.
October 2, 2018 | Unregistered Commentersilver
Thanks for sharing this. It is really very helpful for me. Keep updating.
October 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNorton support

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