It’s up to us to kill false information. Good luck.

Individuals bear much of the blame for fake news. The study found that false rumors travel the Internet much more rapidly and widely than facts. These untruths get their velocity and reach not from celebrity influencers but from ordinary citizens sharing among their networks.

Evidently, we humans have a strong preference for novelty and sensationalism over scrupulous reality.

.. “Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information,” the MIT scientists concluded after examining more than 125,000 stories shared by more than 3 million Twitter users. The most viral lies, they found, involved “false political news.”

.. Politics is tribal. It is a way of organizing conflict.

.. We are inclined to credit anything we hear from our allies and to believe the worst of our foes. In politics we see information as potential ammunition; we evaluate it for its potency and lethality rather than its strict veracity.

.. the Internet smokes out our self-deceptions and shows us as we really are.

Gambling and porn flourish on the Internet. Reasoned civil discourse, not so much.

.. This is a profound blow to idealists of the marketplace of ideas. From Adam Smith to Friedrich Hayek to James Surowiecki, the author of “The Wisdom of Crowds,” wise thinkers have emphasized the positive economic effects of dispersed power. A great many people, free to pursue the wisdom of their experiences and the perspectives from their vantage points, will arrive — as if moved by an invisible hand — at better results than any single mind or central planning bureaucracy could achieve.

.. But it turns out that the crowd is wise only when it is asking the right questions. A crowd determined to get the best value on flat-screen televisions will soon discover the proper price; but a crowd swept up by tulips or cryptocurrency may find itself pricing euphoria instead of value.

 What we see from Twitter and other platforms clearly signals that too many people are asking the wrong questions
.. our ability to spread our careless and malign thinking is brand-new. Of all the digital-age jargon, perhaps none is more apt than “going viral,” because the contagion of bad information is a matter of individuals passing germs from host to host with geometric speed. Only disciplined digital hygiene can halt the epidemic.

Net Neutrality Was Never Enough

In addition to being a public good that ought to be regulated, the internet is also an amplifier of panic, malice, and intemperance. Like it or not, those vices helped get the nation into the political moil it currently faces, from internet policy to immigration to taxation to health care—as well as to the validity of elections themselves.

 .. Under the new rules, dubbed “Restoring Internet Freedom” by the FCC, ISPs would have to disclose any steps they take to limit or sell special access.
.. The FCC voted in favor of repeal despite widespread support of net neutrality among the American public
.. Even the FCC hearing itself was disrupted by the internet’s feral anxiety about itself.
.. progressive advocacy for net neutrality can’t credibly claim to be acting on behalf of consumers and small businesses when venture-backed technology start-ups are the main beneficiary.
.. but it’s not clear that the online-video market hasn’t been taken over by incumbents anyway, like search and social networking have.
.. Pai insists, telco investment in broadband infrastructure has declined
.. better solutions to broadband competition exist. One is local-loop unbundling, a policy that requires telcos to share last-mile connections with competitors. It’s one of the reasons that broadband is so much cheaper in Europe than it is in the United States.

The Six Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know

Professor who summarized the impact of technology on society 30 years ago seems prescient now, in the age of smartphones and social media

Three decades ago, a historian wrote six laws to explain society’s unease with the power and pervasiveness of technology.

.. You’ve probably never heard of these principles or their author, Melvin Kranzberg, a professor of the history of technology at Georgia Institute of Technology who died in 1995.

1. ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’

the impact of a technology depends on its geographic and cultural context, which means it is often good and bad—at the same time.
.. DDT, a pesticide and probable carcinogen that nonetheless saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in India as a cheap and effective malaria prevention

.. Their enormous power means they have an obligation to try to anticipate the potential impact of anything they produce.

 .. “The dirty little secret of highly accomplished people is what we’ve had to neglect to achieve that,”
2. ‘Invention is the mother of necessity.’
.. the invention of the smartphone has led to the necessity for countless other technologies, from phone cases to 5G wireless.
3. ‘Technology comes in packages, big and small.

 

4. ‘Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.’

 

5. ‘All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.’

The Cold War led to the buildup of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them anywhere on Earth. That led to the development of a war-proof communication system: the internet. Many related innovations subsequently seeped into every aspect of our lives.

But does that mean we owe the modern world to the existential contest between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R.? Or was that conflict itself driven by previous technological developments that allowed Hitler to threaten both nations?

6. ‘Technology is a very human activity.’

.. “Technology is capable of doing great things,” Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook said in his 2017 commencement speech at MIT. “But it doesn’t want to do great things—it doesn’t want anything.” The point, Mr. Cook continued, is that despite its power, how we use technology is up to us.