AI will eventually become “unexplainable” at generating hard-to-uncover lies and misinformation—but guess who their unwitting mentors are!
In the USA and many parts of the world, public trust levels in mainstream media have been eroding, to the point that it remains near record lows in America.
In other forms of mass communication such as social media, online content and unsolicited materials, the level of trust can vary, depending on how convincing some misinformation or disinformation is presented.
This trend has been ongoing for years even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. However, four to five years ago, whistleblowers and large-scale election scandals started making people realize how sophisticated humans have become in influencing target audiences and even global communities. In the past, you could fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time — now, sophisticated AI and data-driven algorithms are achieving the feat of fooling all of the people all of the time, with increasingly lower chances of discovery or redress.
For example, even some of the most trusted medical journals and academic institutes have been caught succumbing to conflicts of interest, clandestine deals to disseminate dubious authoritative “studies”, and many other subtle or blatant censorship and bully tactics. Some influential perpetrators have even withstood deep governmental scrutiny and escaped with ludicrously light penalties. Many more mind manipulation campaigns and false-flag operations are probably still hidden to the world — unlikely to ever see the light of day.
Will all truth ever come to light?
As society gets inundated with so much information (or questionable authoritative information) from so many believable official sources, many people are lamenting that discerning truth from half-truths and manipulated facts is almost like a traipse through a minefield. However careful you are, you may still end up stepping on a bomb, or, when you stop trying so hard, blind luck may get you across the field unscathed!
With AI and ML becoming more pervasive by the day, the situation is unlikely to get better. Worse, people are likely to be using AI tools to fool themselves without ever knowing. After all, if generative AI is only as good as the large language models (databases of information that may not even necessarily be unquestionably true) and learning algorithms used to connect neural networks into prediction and manipulation engines, humans could actually trust machine recommendations so much that the well-known denialist phenomenon called “cognitive dissonance” will compel them to resort to every desperate means to prove the machine output right.
At the highest levels of self-delusion caused by our unwavering faith in so-called experts, large language models and revered institutions, we may actually end up normalizing the untruths that had been accepted wrongly all along! Results:
- Age-old lies, half-truths and misguided teachings become officially accepted into the global narrative as acceptable deviations. This can actually make people think it is OK to continue fabricate official-sounding disinformation.
- Cognitive dissonance and human vanity combine to prod us to vindicate situations involving AI biases and potential abuses. In the digital information age, digital lying on a global scale becomes digital truth — as long as sufficient numbers of authoritative agencies accept and endorse the act. Consequence: perpetrators get away with their misdeeds, more malicious parties jump on the bandwagon, and even governments end up acting on the disinformation and legalize their mistakes to avoid looking bad.
- Facts can now be deemed as lies or conspiracy theories, lies can become unquestionable fact, and anything in-between can be manipulated to serve the agendas of the parties with the most public relations optics and monetary clout.
- Over time, all the above trends tend to cause further divides in society, leading to more cancel culture, woke-ism campaigns, and global state-sponsored idealism wars in the digital space. Wars which only offer pyrrhic victories. And you wondered why cyberattacks have been increasing or outpacing the increased rifts and sociopolitical fault lines…
Is the situation well beyond anyone’s control now? Faced with lies that are treated as truths (and which are therefore still usable disinformation), and truths that can be bent and twisted into conspiracies and lies, how can we ever know what to believe and trust? How can we assign trust levels to any news or statistical study we are fed, when every stakeholder is implicated and complicit in not being proven a liar?
Using an axiom to test for BS
So rings an age-old axiom coined long before AI, deep fakes and GenAI phishing scams and Watergate-level political corruption ever became accessible to more people: Follow the money!
Some of history’s most shocking cover-ups, collusions and other nefarious deeds have been brought to light by intrepid reporters who “followed the money trail”, digging into suspects’ business and social networks, deflected subtle or violent attempts to shut them up, or even died in the course of uncovering deep state-level lies.
Gladly, ordinary humans like us do not need to go to such extents. Just do our due diligence in treating everything we need to verify with a healthy dose of doubt and constructive criticism. Question every possible intention or motive behind every assertion contained in the media. Sniff out conflicts of interest in organizations’ funding, corporate relationships and operations.
Most importantly, unless we want to take the blue pill, we should start to distance ourselves from the call-to-action that any content wants us to heed. It will have to take more than some statistics, authoritative “experts” and official endorsements by well-known institutes, to get an awakened, conscious society to accept what they are told, conform with disinformation like sheep, and willingly be led to slaughter yet not knowing why. Hopefully: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light, and if we would stop being dozing lambs munching blue pills!