Digital Censorship Reveals Crisis of Authority, Artificial Intelligence Abuses, Reducing Social Media Polarization
Revealing News Articles
July 18, 2023
Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on the deadly censorship of COVID information by U.S. authorities working in concert with media companies, the abuse of artificial intelligence technology by police departments, world powers rushing in to get killer robots on battlefield in AI arms race, and more.
In our independent media section, don't miss articles on the heroism of Edward Snowden and the importance of digital privacy legislation to civil liberties.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on reducing political polarization on social media, healing cancel culture by "calling in" instead of "calling out," emerging science showing how our brains synchronize when we interact with each other, and more. You can also skip to this section now.
Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails, see this page. The most important sentences are highlighted. And don't miss the "What you can do" section below the summaries. By educating ourselves and spreading the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Special note: Have you checked out our new WantToKnow.info social media platforms yet? We're working to expand our outreach online as we continue to be a trustworthy source amidst the vast information landscape. Follow and support our new social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube!
Quote of the week: People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other. ~~ Martin Luther King Jr.
Video of the week: Watch a recent and fascinating talk of former defense contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden and cognitive scientist Ben Goertzel discussing the surveillance implications of recent advancements in AI.
Covid Censorship Proved to Be Deadly
July 7, 2023, Wall Street Journal
On July 4, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty temporarily blocked numerous federal agencies and the White House from collaborating with social-media companies and third-party groups to censor speech. Discovery in Missouri v. Biden exposed relationships among government agencies and social-media firms and revealed an additional layer of university centers and self-styled disinformation watchdogs and fact-checking outfits. Elon Musk’s release of some of Twitter’s internal files revealed that up to 80 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were embedded with social-media companies. The agents mostly weren’t fighting terrorism but flagging wrongthink by American citizens, including eminent scientists who suggested different paths on Covid policy. The U.S. government spent $6 trillion to buoy its shuttered economy, and most people got Covid anyway. Excess mortality in most high-income nations was worse in 2021 and 2022 than in 2020, the initial pandemic year. Sweden, which didn’t have a lockdown, performed better than nearly every other advanced nation. Hiding these realities has become more difficult in the internet age. The information explosion has allowed more people to spot quickly the mistakes of officials. Those in charge feel threatened. Digital censorship is their response to this crisis of authority. True, misinformation is rampant online. But it was far worse before the internet, when myths could persist for centuries.
Fantasy fears about AI are obscuring how we already abuse machine intelligence
June 11, 2023, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
A young African American man, Randal Quran Reid, was pulled over by the state police in Georgia. He was arrested under warrants issued by Louisiana police for two cases of theft in New Orleans. The arrest warrants had been based solely on a facial recognition match, though that was never mentioned in any police document; the warrants claimed “a credible source” had identified Reid as the culprit. The facial recognition match was incorrect and Reid was released. Reid ... is not the only victim of a false facial recognition match. So far all those arrested in the US after a false match have been black. From surveillance to disinformation, we live in a world shaped by AI. The reason that Reid was wrongly incarcerated had less to do with artificial intelligence than with ... the humans that created the software and trained it. Too often when we talk of the “problem” of AI, we remove the human from the picture. We worry AI will “eliminate jobs” and make millions redundant, rather than recognise that the real decisions are made by governments and corporations and the humans that run them. We have come to view the machine as the agent and humans as victims of machine agency. Rather than seeing regulation as a means by which we can collectively shape our relationship to AI, it becomes something that is imposed from the top as a means of protecting humans from machines. It is not AI but our blindness to the way human societies are already deploying machine intelligence for political ends that should most worry us.
World powers in rush to get killer robots on battlefield in AI arms race, as concerns grow they can turn on humans
July 10, 2023, New York Post
Weapons-grade robots and drones being utilized in combat isn’t new. But AI software is, and it’s enhancing — in some cases, to the extreme — the existing hardware, which has been modernizing warfare for the better part of a decade. Now, experts say, developments in AI have pushed us to a point where global forces now have no choice but to rethink military strategy — from the ground up. “It’s realistic to expect that AI will be piloting an F-16 and will not be that far out,” Nathan Michael, Chief Technology Officer of Shield AI, a company whose mission is “building the world’s best AI pilot,” says. We don’t truly comprehend what we’re creating. There are also fears that a comfortable reliance in the technology’s precision and accuracy — referred to as automation bias — may come back to haunt, should the tech fail in a life or death situation. One major worry revolves around AI facial recognition software being used to enhance an autonomous robot or drone during a firefight. Right now, a human being behind the controls has to pull the proverbial trigger. Should that be taken away, militants could be misconstrued for civilians or allies at the hands of a machine. And remember when the fear of our most powerful weapons being turned against us was just something you saw in futuristic action movies? With AI, that’s very possible. “There is a concern over cybersecurity in AI and the ability of either foreign governments or an independent actors to take over crucial elements of the military,” [filmmaker Jesse Sweet] said.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption from reliable major media sources.
The Google employee who helped Edward Snowden in Hong Kong
June 18, 2023, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
On the morning of 10 June 2013 ... the journalist Glenn Greenwald and film-maker Laura Poitras published on the Guardian site a video revealing the identity of the NSA whistleblower behind one of the most damning leaks in modern history. It began: “My name is Ed Snowden.” William Fitzgerald, then a 27-year-old policy employee at Google, knew he wanted to help. Fitzgerald found himself waiting in the lobby of the Hong Kong W Hotel to meet Greenwald and introduce him to Robert Tibbo and Jonathan Man – the men who became Snowden’s legal representatives and hid him in the homes of Tibbo’s refugee clients. The Snowden files told a ... sinister story, revealing mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA files suggested that some tech firms, including Google, Facebook and Apple, were aware. Google and other tech firms worked to distance themselves from the NSA’s efforts. But over time [Google's] culture appeared to shift, reflecting the changing needs of various governments. Google stopped promoting its transparency report to the media, free expression advocates were replaced by more traditional business-focused executives, and then there was Project Maven – the controversial Department of Defense drone project that Google signed on to build artificial intelligence for. Google isn’t alone in vying for government contracts – Microsoft, Amazon, IBM have all since made a play for or struck multimillion-dollar deals to build tools of surveillance for various entities including the Pentagon.
Meltdowns Have Brought Progressive Advocacy Groups to a Standstill at a Critical Moment in World History
June 13, 2022, The Intercept
Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and other reproductive health organizations [have] been locked in knock-down, drag-out fights between competing factions of their organizations ... which has, more or less, effectively ceased to function. The Sierra Club, Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change, the Movement for Black Lives, Human Rights Campaign, Time’s Up, the Sunrise Movement, and many other organizations have seen wrenching and debilitating turmoil in the past couple years. In fact, it’s hard to find a Washington-based progressive organization that hasn’t been in tumult, or isn’t currently in tumult. This is a caricature of the left: spend more time in meetings ... fighting with each other than changing the world. It has become nearly all-consuming for some organizations, spreading beyond subcultures of the left and into major liberal institutions. “My last nine months, I was spending 90 to 95 percent of my time on internal strife,” [a] former executive director said. [Activist Loretta] Ross, in an essay for the New York Times, ends with a call for grace. “I say to people today, as a survivor of COINTELPRO,” she told me, referring to the FBI scheme to infiltrate and disrupt leftist movements by sowing internal dissension, “if you’re more wedded to destabilizing an organization than unifying it, part of me is gonna think you’re naïve, and the other part of me is gonna think you’re a plant. And neither one of those is going to look good on you.”
Note: Watch Loretta Ross's powerful Ted Talk on simple tools to help shift our culture from fighting each other to working together in the face of polarizing social issues. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
How a group of Ohio voters are working to bridge the widening partisan divide
July 5, 2023, PBS News
The group was brought together with the help of Braver Angels, one of hundreds of grassroots organizations that have sprung up in recent years to try to bridge the partisan divide. "I think the media has such a big part in dividing us, whether it is racially or politically or gender or sex," [said Nancy Miranda]. "The media tends to foster the extremes by fueling a lot of the rhetoric that is at the extremes of both red and blue," [said Dr. Bill Shaul]. "And the rhetoric and the disrespect and the lack of civility that we sometimes see portrayed in the media, I think, has made this a lot worse." "Now we have a 24-hour news cycle," [said Leah Nichols]. "And the news I see is probably different than the news Nancy sees, which is probably different than the news that you see, because we're all — have our own tailored algorithms when it comes down to social media. I think that the news is just so different than it used to be. It is hard for us to even be on the same page sometimes. I think it's really easy to look at the other side and be able to say, oh, maybe they just don't have the knowledge that I have or they don't know the things that I know. But, in reality, we all have our own lived experiences that have brought us to where we are. And if we could listen to each other, maybe we'd actually be able to understand a little better." "I really think the answer to our polarization politically in this country is in our communities, and it is in the relationships that we have with one another, especially across lines of difference," [said John Shi].
‘Ways of Being’ Review: Whole Earth Network
June 17, 2022, Wall Street Journal
The artist, writer and technologist James Bridle begins “Ways of Being” with an uncanny discovery: a line of stakes tagged with unfathomable letters and numbers in thick marker pen. The region of [Greece] is rich in oil, we learn, and the company that won the contract to extract it from the foothills of the Pindus mountains is using “cognitive technologies” to “augment ... strategic decision making.” The grid of wooden stakes left by “unmarked vans, helicopters and work crews in hi-vis jackets” are the “tooth- and claw-marks of Artificial Intelligence, at the exact point where it meets the earth.” “Ways of Being” sets off on a tour of the natural world, arguing that intelligence is something that “arises ... from thinking and working together,” and that “everything is intelligent.” We hear of elephants, chimpanzees and dolphins who resist and subvert experiments testing their sense of self. We find redwoods communicating through underground networks. In the most extraordinary result of all, in 2014 the Australian biologist Monica Gagliano showed that mimosa plants can remember a sudden fall for a month. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, science and technology have been used to analyze, conquer and control. But “Ways of Being” argues that they can equally be used to explore and augment connection and empathy. The author cites researchers studying migration patterns with military radar and astronomers turning telescopes designed for surveillance on Earth into instruments for investigating the dark energy of the cosmos.
Note: Read a thought-provoking article featuring a video interview with artist and technologist James Bridle as he explores how technology can be used to reflect the innovative and life-enhancing capacities of non-human natural systems. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mysterious nature of reality from reliable major media sources.
Hate is surging online — and social media companies are in denial. Congress can help protect users
July 7, 2023, The Hill
New data from my team at ADL Center for Technology and Society shows that online hate and harassment have risen to critical levels. Just over half of U.S. adults say they have experienced online hate and harassment in their lifetimes. And it’s not just adults: 51 percent of teenagers say they’ve experienced some form of online harassment in the past 12 months, compared to 36 percent the year before. The data is especially stark for those who identify as members of a marginalized group. More than three-quarters of transgender individuals say they’ve been harassed online, with 60 percent of those reporting severe harassment such as physical threats. Indeed, online hate is increasing across every available metric. Eighty percent of Jewish respondents, who also experienced a significant rise in online hate, worry about being harassed for their religion, and many reported they avoid identifying themselves as Jewish on social media. How have social media executives reacted? Rather than improving abuse reporting mechanisms or enforcing their own rules against hate speech, they continue to sweep these concerns under the rug. Some platforms have even exacerbated the problem. In the last year, tech companies have made record layoffs to the detriment of online safety. Google shrunk the team that builds moderation tools and tracks threats. Twitter dramatically reduced its safety and ethics teams. Meta’s mass layoffs decimated its trust and safety teams.
Note: The above article was written by Yael Eisenstat, vice president at the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL wants the US Supreme Court to reinterpret the law in a way that the Electronic Freedom Foundation says would greatly increase online censorship. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Key Articles From Independent Media
Ten Years Later, Snowden’s Heroism Shines Ever Brighter
June 8, 2023, CounterPunch
In 2010, the Washington Post reported that “every day, collection systems at the [NSA] intercept and store 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other type of communications.” In 2011, NSA expanded a program to provide real-time location information of every American with a cell phone, acquiring more than a billion cell phone records each day from AT&T. Later, newspapers around the world began publishing confidential documents leaked by [Edward] Snowden. Americans learned that the NSA can tap almost any cell phone in the world, exploit computer games like Angry Birds to poach personal data, access anyone’s email and web browsing history [and] remotely penetrate almost all computers. The NSA used Facebook and Google apps to send malware to targeted individuals. NSA filched almost 200,000,000 records a month from private computer cloud accounts. Obama perpetuated perverse Bush-era legal doctrines to totally shield federal surveillance from judicial scrutiny. Obama’s Justice Department secretly decreed that all phone records of all Americans were “relevant” to terrorism investigations and that the NSA could therefore justifiably seize everyone’s personal data. Snowden revealed how the NSA had covertly carried out “the most significant change in the history of American espionage from the targeted surveillance of individuals to the mass surveillance of entire populations.”
Digital Privacy Legislation is Civil Rights Legislation
May 18, 2023, ScheerPost
Our personal data and the ways private companies harvest and monetize it plays an increasingly powerful role in modern life. One unifying thread to this pervasive system is the collection of personal information from marginalized communities, and the subsequent discriminatory use by corporations and government agencies—exacerbating existing structural inequalities across society. Data surveillance is a civil rights problem, and legislation to protect data privacy can help protect civil rights. Where mobile apps are used disparately by specific groups, the collection and sharing of personal data can aggravate civil rights problems. For example, a Muslim prayer app (Muslim Pro) sold geolocation data about its users to a company called X-Mode, which in turn provided access to this data to the U.S. military through defense contractors. In 2016, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and nine other social media platforms were found to have provided software company Geofeedia with social media information and location data from their users. This data was subsequently used by police departments across the U.S. to track down and identify individuals attending Black Lives Matter protests. Moreover, lower-income people are often less able to avoid corporate harvesting of their data. For example, some lower-priced technologies collect more data than other technologies, such as inexpensive smartphones that come with preinstalled apps that leak data and can’t be deleted.
Note: Read how Clearview AI gave law enforcement access to 30 billion images from social media sites. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties from reliable major media sources.
Key Articles From Years Past
[9/11] Hijack 'suspects' alive and well
September 23, 2001, BBC News
read on news.bbc.co.uk
Another of the men named by the FBI as a hijacker in the [9/11] suicide attacks on Washington and New York has turned up alive and well. The identities of four of the 19 suspects accused of having carried out the attacks are now in doubt. Saudi Arabian pilot Waleed Al Shehri was one of five men that the FBI said had deliberately crashed American Airlines flight 11 into the World Trade Centre on 11 September. His photograph was released, and has since appeared in newspapers and on television around the world. He told journalists there that he had nothing to do with the attacks. He has contacted both the Saudi and American authorities. He acknowledges that he attended flight training school at Daytona Beach in the United States, and is indeed the same Waleed Al Shehri to whom the FBI has been referring. But, he says, he left the United States in September last year [and] became a pilot with Saudi Arabian airlines. Abdulaziz Al Omari, another of the Flight 11 hijack suspects ... says he is an engineer with Saudi Telecoms, and that he lost his passport while studying in Denver. Meanwhile ... a London-based Arabic daily says it has interviewed Saeed Alghamdi. He was listed by the FBI as a hijacker in the United flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. And there are suggestions that another suspect, Khalid Al Midhar, may also be alive. FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged on Thursday that the identity of several of the suicide hijackers is in doubt.
Note: The deceptions in the 9/11 official story are clearly shown in this key story. The FBI never revised its list of alleged hijackers. These four are all listed in the official 9/11 Commission report as the hijackers. Click here and scroll down a little over half way to see their photos in the official report. For more, see this webpage. Explore also concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles with evidence of a 9/11 cover-up from reliable major media sources. Then examine an abundance of reliable information suggesting a major 9/11 cover-up.
How social media platforms can reduce polarization
December 21, 2022, Brookings Institute
Polarization is widely recognized as one of the most pressing issues now facing the United States. Even as polarization has increased in recent years, survey research has consistently shown that many Americans think the nation is more divided than it truly is. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans think they dislike each other more than they actually do. Social media companies are often blamed for driving greater polarization by virtue of the way they segment political audiences and personalize recommendations in line with their users’ existing beliefs and preferences. Given their scale and reach, however, they are also uniquely positioned to help reduce polarization. Jamie Settle’s work demonstrates, through a combination of surveys and experiments, that affective polarization is likely to rise when social media users encounter content with partisan cues, even if the content is not explicitly political. A 2020 study by Hunt Allcott and colleagues echoes these concerns. The authors asked some participants to refrain from using Facebook for four weeks. Afterward, these participants reported holding less polarized political views than those who had not been asked to refrain from using Facebook. Deactivating Facebook also made people less hostile toward “the other party.” When people interact with someone from their social “outgroup,” they often come to view that outgroup in a more favorable light. Spreading more examples of positive intergroup contact ... could go a long way.
Note: Read the full article to explore what social media platforms can do to reduce polarization. For more, read how the people of Taiwan created an online space for debate where politicians can interact with citizens in ways that foreground consensus, and not division.
Calling In: Loretta J. Ross’s Antidote to Cancel Culture
October 24, 2022, Atmos
What does it take to have a challenging conversation in the era of cancel culture? For MacArthur Fellow Loretta J. Ross, the answer lies in calling in: a communicative strategy rooted in compassion, accountability, and restorative justice. Cancel culture [is] a phenomenon whereby people deemed to be moral transgressors are publicly discredited on social media platforms, and in some instances, punished through cultural, social, and professional ostracism. Professor Ross thinks this readiness to cancel a person on the basis of their beliefs is toxic. Instead, she espouses empathy and stresses the importance of context in challenging conversations. Calling in is not what you do for other people—it’s what you do for yourself. It gives you a chance to offer love, grace, and respect, and to showcase one’s own integrity and one’s own ability to hold nuance and depth. People mistakenly think that you’re doing it because you’re trying to change somebody else. That’s not possible. And since we don’t have the power to control and change others, the only power we’re left with is self-empowerment. In this sense, calling in is a conscious decision to not make the world crueler than it needs to be. We’re all capable of using a technique I call “the mental parking lot” where you temporarily put aside any visceral reactions you have to what others are saying. It’s a technique that requires you not to pay attention to your reaction but rather to devote your focus and respect to the person you’re talking to.
Note: Smith College Professor and civil rights activist Loretta Ross worked with Ku Klux Klan members and practiced restorative justice with incarcerated men convicted or raping and murdering women. Watch Loretta Ross's powerful Ted Talk on simple tools to help shift our culture from fighting each other to working together in the face of polarizing social issues.
Brain Waves Synchronize when People Interact
July 1, 2023, Scientific American
Collective neuroscience, as some practitioners call it, is a rapidly growing field of research. An early, consistent finding is that when people converse or share an experience, their brain waves synchronize. Neurons in corresponding locations of the different brains fire at the same time, creating matching patterns, like dancers moving together. Auditory and visual areas respond to shape, sound and movement in similar ways, whereas higher-order brain areas seem to behave similarly during more challenging tasks such as making meaning out of something seen or heard. The experience of “being on the same wavelength” as another person is real, and it is visible in the activity of the brain. Interbrain synchrony prepares people for interaction and beginning to understand it as a marker of relationships. Given that synchronized experiences are often enjoyable, researchers suspect this phenomenon is beneficial: it helps us interact and may have facilitated the evolution of sociality. This new kind of brain research might also illuminate why we don't always “click” with someone or why social isolation is so harmful to physical and mental health. Preliminary evidence ... shows synchrony between interacting brains and, more intriguingly, that correlations in some brain regions are greater between people while they are telling a joint story than during the independent stories, particularly in the parietal cortex. “That area is active for memory and narrative construction,” [neuroscientist Thalia] Wheatley says. “It seems to fit.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
16-year-old finds a new way to detect cancer
May 19, 2013, CBS News
read on cbsnews.com
Sixteen-year-old Jack Andraka's innovative mind led him to create a new way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer. "I created a new way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer that costs three cents and takes five minutes to run," he said. After a close friend died from pancreatic cancer, this 16-year-old from Crownsville, Maryland, unleashed his hyper-drive intellect on preventing more cancer deaths. "It's 168 times faster, over 26,000 times less expensive, and over 400 times more sensitive than our current methods of diagnosis," he said. Tinkering in his room and using information readily available online, he came up with a new way to detect cancer. "85 percent of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than a two percent chance of survival. And our current test costs $800 per test and misses 30 percent of all pancreatic cancers," he said. He won last year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The sweet validation came with $100,000 in scholarships, but Jack Andraka's got his eye on even bigger things. "The name of the competition is called the Tricorder XPRIZE," he said. "It's a $10 million prize. Essentially what you have to do is develop something the size of a smartphone that you scan over your skin and it will diagnose any disease instantly." Jack is fielding a team of other high-schoolers to compete against 300 teams of adult scientists and corporations in the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition. He says youth is an advantage -- that new eyes are more likely to solve old problems.
Note: Let's hope this invention gets fast tracked and makes it to market. Notice how little attention this exciting development received. To read about many potential cancer cures reported in major media which have not made it to market for financial reasons, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
We're $10,100 in the red for the month.
Kindly support this important work. Donate here.
Finding Balance: WantToKnow.info Inspiration Center
WantToKnow.info believes it is important to balance disturbing cover-up information with inspirational writings which call us to be all that we can be and to work together for positive change. For an abundance of uplifting material, please visit our Inspiration Center.
See our exceptional archive of revealing news articles.
www.momentoflove.org - Every person in the world has a heart
www.personalgrowthcourses.net - Dynamic online courses powerfully expand your horizons
www.WantToKnow.info - Reliable, verifiable information on major cover-ups
www.weboflove.org - Strengthening the Web of Love that interconnects us all
Subscribe here to the WantToKnow.info email list (two messages a week)