The Good, the Bad and the Fake News

Only recently (153 B.C) have we started to celebrate New Year on January 1st. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their lunar years with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice. March 1st was the beginning of every New Year in the early Roman calendars that had just ten months, beginning with March followed by September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for “seven”, octo for “eight”, novem for “nine”, and decem for “ten”. January and February were later added to what became a more reliable solar-based calendar. Although this might have brought some confusion at first, it was more accurate and reliable for the years that followed. Regardless, few people are aware of this historical New Year fact today.

Fewer and fewer people are aware of facts, in general, today. In times of insane information obesity and the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), our fact-checking is handicapped by an attention span that does not scale with the digital age. While some facts are arguably safe to ignore or twist, such as the beginning of a new year or one’s date of birth or other personal facts, altering some other facts could be highly manipulative with calamitous consequences. Rumours have often found their ways into our ignorant minds an scarred hearts in order to go viral on social networks, scarring more hearts, ruining lives, countries and our planet.

Our virtual societies impose on their ego-inflated virtual residents a FOMO taxation that is paid in a Publish Or Perish (POP) competitive currency. News becomes much more important than good news or correct news with our FOMO-POP-paralysed fact-checking (dis)abilities.

Paradoxically, the same internet that has offered us fast access to great knowledge and information, has brought it with all kinds of twists and misinformation suiting every ego or persona. Personas masked with vicarious and often pompous words, instagram-famed destinations and experiences, and many other masks that promise admission only to fake circles of like-minded personas. It has become harder and harder to find a ground truth to anchor and find inner peace, thus the rise of spiritual guides, personal coaches, gurus, shamans…and even the charlatans!

Next time you read an article with bad news, no matter how huge the urge you have for sharing it, whether out of pity or anger, pride or other, think twice on whether it is necessary, especially if it may propagate into further hatred and more bad news.

Now the good news! The good news is that I wrote this because I’m very optimistic that all bad and fake news are fully traceable. I wrote this as the fifth chapter of an unpublished book. In the sixth chapter, I discuss how using Artificial Intelligence, we can detect fake news and flag it or wipe it out entirely to be able to ask the internet one day questions like: “how is our planet doing?” or “how is a virus spreading?” or “what medicine to take?” and get an honest answer. Wouldn’t that be awesome? This project has recently found a publisher but I’m keen on keeping it digital and I’m open to eco-friendly suggestions.

Traditional, Digital & AI Artist, Data Scientist, Creative Coder, Filmmaker, Hyperpolyglot, Cosmopolitan. Formerly @snips @fortia_s @UPMC @CNRS @paris_sorbonne.

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