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RE: Digital Press Passes and Decentralized Public Key Infrastructures

From: Adam Sobieski <adamsobieski@hotmail.com>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2021 15:29:38 +0000
To: George Artem <georgeartem@gmail.com>
CC: Moses Ma <moses.ma@futurelabconsulting.com>, Bob Wyman <bob@wyman.us>, "W3C Credentials CG (Public List)" <public-credentials@w3.org>
Message-ID: <DM6PR12MB4185CCAD4D1ACBEDC81BB06FC5F69@DM6PR12MB4185.namprd12.prod.outlook.com>
George said “… in the present environment he/she/they who control the algorithmic parameters hold the keys to the narrative and to the seriousness with which we consider the things we know that we do not know…”

The algorithms in use, e.g., by Google and Facebook, are indeed important and may already make determinations about who is or who isn’t a journalist and what is or what isn’t journalistic content. On page 26 of a recent report [1], for example, it is emphasized that “smaller outlets can struggle to gain trusted status from platforms.”

“Digital press passes” could be a societal, transparent means for journalists to assert to such algorithms that they are indeed journalists and that their content is journalistic. Professional journalism organizations, e.g., those which already issue press passes, could determine who is a journalist instead of Google and Facebook.

“I raise the questions because my fear for journalists would be that they wake up one morning where their credentials have suddenly been deactivated or revoked like in a scene from Kafka's 'Trial' as a result of some algorithmic error or a perceived slight on the bureaucratic class, and that this would only lead to more self-censorship and less investigation and independent thought.”

It would be on we scientists and technologists to develop rugged systems which equip and empower journalists and which address dystopian concerns.


Best regards,
Adam

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-role-of-ai-in-addressing-misinformation-on-social-media-platforms

From: George Artem<mailto:georgeartem@gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, August 9, 2021 4:40 AM
To: Adam Sobieski<mailto:adamsobieski@hotmail.com>
Cc: Moses Ma<mailto:moses.ma@futurelabconsulting.com>; Bob Wyman<mailto:bob@wyman.us>; W3C Credentials CG (Public List)<mailto:public-credentials@w3.org>
Subject: Re: Digital Press Passes and Decentralized Public Key Infrastructures

Adam Sobieski said:  "while Google and Facebook are advancing the state of the art with respect to content moderation and mitigating misinformation and disinformation. . ."

You are pointing out that so-called 'state of the art solutions' to this problem are not new, and we already live in a world fraught with content moderation through labeling, censorship, self-censorship, shadow banning etc. driving masses toward a singularly accepted totalitarian narrative - social media today (what I would call legacy social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) is truly nothing other than social engineering by another name (in the end we place our trust in the platform, with or without understanding that we in the end are the product).

We can argue of course whether this is mal-intentioned, but in the present environment he/she/they who control the algorithmic parameters hold the keys to the narrative and to the seriousness with which we consider the things we know that we do not know (the counter-COVID narrative here being a prime example) which is what led me to reference 'emerging science'. The field of quantum physics is another great example where the 'many worlds' narrative has long been suppressed by the 'shut up and calculate' mantra.

That of course has less to do with journalism than it does with how our society interprets weak signals from 'emerging science' like vaccine adverse effects, SQUIDs, phenomenology and the like. . . for what it's worth I tend to agree with the comments alluding to weighting of certain voices related to a particular competency score or certification for these kinds of 'scientific' or 'academic' issues.

The best analogy I can think of that I have seen (in my limited perspective) for this in practice is the weighting of legal precedent on particular topics by case repositories like Lexis, WestLaw and other legal research tools where some holdings are highlighted as 'disputed', 'overturned' etc. which frankly isn't very different than 'fact-checking' except the time horizon is appropriately broadened and the issues investigated by judges, and not 'BA holders in hoodies' - which of course lends itself to a discussion of how our adversarial system (in the US) comes to discover facts vs. other countries and judicial discretion, but that in itself can be its own dissertation...

I raise the questions because my fear for journalists would be that they wake up one morning where their credentials have suddenly been deactivated or revoked like in a scene from Kafka's 'Trial' as a result of some algorithmic error or a perceived slight on the bureaucratic class, and that this would only lead to more self-censorship and less investigation and independent thought.

Very respectfully,


George
Received on Monday, 9 August 2021 15:29:52 UTC

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