2023-09-12 Links

Daily Reads:

Jim Nielsen’s observation about the double standards between software and LLM‘s is spot-on.

Ted Gioia: Why is music getting sadder? as measured by songs in the minor key.

I attended Sydney Uni’s Sydney Ideas talk on Disinformation this evening. Tried my hand at speed-note taking. The Talk will be hosted online at some point, and somewhere around here. These are my notes.

Live note-taking at an event. Expect errors and omissions.

Host: Farz Edraki
Joanne Gray, Sydney Uni
Micah Goldwater, Sydney Uni
Lee McIntyre, Research Fellow at Boston University

What makes disinformation influential & problematic?

  1. Distinction between misinformation & disinformation
    Misinformation is accidental. Disinformation is a lie, an intentional falsehood, for the benefit of the person dishing it out.
    People lied before, and didn’t have an audience. Now, lies can get halfway around the world before truth can get its shoes on.

  2. Psychological processes

    • MG:
      Narrative provide explanations. Our brains look for the patterns, and disinformation provides a compelling yet incorrect view of the world. We know very little about the world.
  3. What roles platforms play in distributing mis/disinformation?

    • Joanne Gray
      Economic logic of platforms for
      Design features for individual users
      Collective endorsement of information that is seen on FB. Everyone believes it therefore it must be true.
  4. Amplifiers
    Pipeline of disinformation: Dis-informers > Amplifiers > Believers
    Cracking down on amplifiers provides the biggest solution.

    Question: role of ActivityPub/Mastodon

  5. MG (missed this question)

    • lost control of their lives, conspiracy theories offer a way of taking back control (narratives provide explanation – heroes, victims, villians)
    • Example of Qld school shooter
  6. Follow up question (also missed this one 🙁 )

    • specific demographics that are susceptible to
  7. Nuanced cultural context

    • Denialism caused by disinformation. Weaponised information usually has a
    • Information re vaccines with 5G microchips came from Russian in early 2020.
    • Lies are free but the truth is behind a paywall
    • Russians had a competing vaccine – Sputnik5 was a vaccine
  8. What did the platforms do about the misinformation?

    • Platforms don’t have obligations, an American set of values (innovation is good, regulation is bad, self-regulation)
    • "Absolute" Free-speech ideology – you can’t stop free speech.
    • Right to free speech <> right to amplification. (Free speech is about speaking truth to power without fear of persecution)
    • We don’t need to take the US position on free speech
  9. What can be done about spread of disinformation?

    • Pre-bunking! Can you get ahead of the spread, and warn people about the motivation? Seems to be more effective than stopping spread of disinformation
    • However, can’t be scaled, or be anticipated.
    • De-bunking (afterwards)
    • Pre-bunking works on the primacy effect – discredit the liar before people hear the lie.
  10. 10 steps that individuals can do to to fight against disinformation

    • Goal of disinfomation is to make you feel helpless.
    • Understand what’s going can help
    • Use the word "disinformation" where it applies. It is a war. Don’t share the story if you can’t know it is true.
    • Write to the advertisers instead!
  11. Policy regulation

    • Legislation that civil society gets better access to the data that is currently black boxes
    • Obligation is reactionary – to bad content. Shift to make the companies responsibility to protect or prevent people from being exposed to harmful content/ disinformation
    • Platforms are the gatekeepers, must be made responsible
  12. Australian Fed bills in progress.

    • Fear of ‘free speech infringement’

"You cannot change someone’s mind. Be kind, respectful, protect the relationship"


True progress towards peace looks like a collaborative world where we consider ourselves to have kinship with everyone of all religions, skin tones, and nationalities, and where every human being’s life has inherent value. It looks like building foreign policy for the benefit of all people, not the people of one nation. It looks like true, vibrant democracy. It doesn’t look like performative flag-waving, drone strikes, religious intolerance, homogeneity, or surveillance campaigns. – Ben Werdmuller:


Mary Gauthier – Mercy Now