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The Future of the Internet

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Quintessence, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Here's an article of direct interest to just about anyone using the internet: The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online

    There is so much ground that is covered by this article it's hard to know where to begin, but if you are at all interested and concerned about these sorts of issues:

    • How uncivil, trolling behavior is ruining the internet and public discourse
    • How fake news on the internet is having rather disturbing real world consequences
    • How the internet allows for advancement of extremist causes and is used as a weapon or tool of propoganda
    Take a gander. It's a long read. As a bard, stories like this are particularly interesting to me because they are about... well... stories. Much of how we view reality and approach reality is impacted by the stories we tell. While a venue like the internet held much promise and many benefits, I remember quite some time ago noticing a problem with the signal to noise ratio. That is to say, there is so much garbage on the internet that it is difficult to find the useful portions of it. It doesn't help that it is plagued by advertisers and marketers vying for your attention and gathering your information to sell off to various bidders.

    Four themes with the following subthemes are proposed in this article about what the future of the internet will look like:

    1. Things will stay bad because to troll is human; anonymity abets anti-social behavior; inequities drive at least some of the inflammatory dialogue; and the growing scale and complexity of internet discourse makes this difficult to defeat
      1. Trolls have been with us since the dawn of time; there will always be some incivility
      2. Trolling and other destructive behaviors often result because people do not recognize or don’t care about the consequences flowing from their online actions
      3. Inequities drive at least some of the inflammatory dialogue
      4. The ever-expanding scale of internet discourse and its accelerating complexity make it difficult to deal with problematic content and contributors
    2. Things will stay bad because tangible and intangible economic and political incentives support trolling. Participation = power and profits
      1. ‘Hate, anxiety, and anger drive participation,’ which equals profits and power, so online social platforms and mainstream media support and even promote uncivil acts
      2. Technology companies have little incentive to rein in uncivil discourse, and traditional news organizations – which used to shape discussions – have shrunk in importance
      3. Terrorists and other political actors are benefiting from the weaponization of online narratives by implementing human- and bot-based misinformation and persuasion tactics
    3. Things will get better because technical and human solutions will arise as the online world splinters into segmented, controlled social zones with the help of artificial intelligence (AI)
      1. AI sentiment analysis and other tools will detect inappropriate behavior and many trolls will be caught in the filter; human oversight by moderators might catch others
      2. There will be partitioning, exclusion and division of online outlets, social platforms and open spaces
      3. Trolls and other actors will fight back, innovating around any barriers they face
    4. Oversight and community moderation come with a cost. Some solutions could further change the nature of the internet because surveillance will rise; the state may regulate debate; and these changes will polarize people and limit access to information and free speech
      1. Surveillance will become even more prevalent
      2. Dealing with hostile behavior and addressing violence and hate speech will become the responsibility of the state instead of the platform or service providers
      3. Polarization will occur due to the compartmentalization of ideologies
      4. Increased monitoring, regulation and enforcement will shape content to such an extent that the public will not gain access to important information and possibly lose free speech
    What do you think about these ideas? About the internet in general? Anything in the article you'd like to bring our attention to?
     
  2. Quetzal

    Quetzal A little to the left and slightly out of focus.
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    You need to look no further than Reddit to see this model in action. The entire community is based on the popularity of comments, not the accuracy. If a comment's rating gets too low, it gets censored and moved to the bottom.

    Yep! This is due to the political powers at be at the moment combating otherwise legitimate news agencies to promote their narrative. What's worse is the base that supports them accepts and promotes it, too. This is very scary for me. If integrity and facts disappear, what else is left?
     
  3. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    I've never used that board. I heard rumors it was bad, but if this is their system of discourse, then I definitely have no interest in wasting my time with it.



    Good, old fashioned research. Too bad it takes so much time that current American lifestyles don't allow for much of that to happen.
     
  4. bobhikes

    bobhikes Liveinthenowist
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    Yes the internet is both bad and good. I would replace the word troll and trolling with bullying. People will get use to it and its impact will diminish but for the time being it is a curse and a miracle.
     
  5. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Not a bad idea. Using the word of a fantasy monster to describe what is really bullying, prejudice, bigotry, and the like makes it sound like much less of a real problem than it actually is. Come to think of it, I have no idea where that label "troll" started.



    I'm not sure the solution to the negative behaviors on the internet is to tell people to "get used to it." That sounds like a form of blaming the victim whilst giving the perpetrator a free pass to continue their antics. I'm also not convinced the impact will diminish and much more convinced of the contrary. More people are using the internet and social media than ever, and more people are constantly plugged into these things than ever. That trend is not showing signs of stopping or reversing, meaning impacts will increase. :sweat:
     
  6. bobhikes

    bobhikes Liveinthenowist
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    I see quite the opposite with my Nephew's and kid's they have learned to block the negatives and find there personal niche that they continue to return to. With PlayStation my son's will turn off the mic when others annoy them. They routinely block people something I never do, because they don't want the clutter. My son was a troll in one of the games and then people started trolling him, he learned his lesson. Other than texting my Nephew's and son's have a good handle on the internet. It is their lazy entertainment now constantly watching You Tube but that's no different than me and TV or my parents and the radio.
     
  7. CogentPhilosopher

    CogentPhilosopher Philosophy Student

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    Trolling is a word which people like to mess around with the definition a lot to suit their narrative.

    It used to mean any kind of behavior meant to elicit an emotional response for comedic value but the media has been using the term to be synonymous with harassment.

    To be honest I suspect this may be part of the old media's attack on new media.
     
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  8. Stevicus

    Stevicus Well-Known Member
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    Sometimes, anonymity allows information to flow which wouldn't otherwise see the light of day, mainly because the position of the "leaker" might be compromised. Newspapers have defended the use of anonymous sources in the past, and we've had to rely on their good judgment as to whether said sources are reliable. If there wasn't such a culture of secrecy and an inordinate effort to avoid transparency in government and other powerful institutions, then maybe it wouldn't be that big a deal.

    As for "trolls," there are trolls, and then there are trolls. "Troll" seems to be one of the most misused and misunderstood terms floating around out there. In the decades since I've been on Usenet and participated in various message boards over the years, I've always thought that people make too many mountains out of molehills when it comes to trolls. Seriously, what's the big deal? They're just words.

    I was reading some of the bullet points in the article, and this one struck me:

    I find it interesting that representatives from established institutions in the mainstream media are the ones making the loudest noise here. The "internet is loosening our grip on the truth"? To whom is the "our" referring to in that sentence?

    What does this really mean? Prior to the advent of the internet, the major networks and big time newspapers enjoyed a fortunate position of being the main source of information the people had to rely upon in any given market. Sure, any citizen had the right to print up and distribute their own newspaper - and many did, but they could not hope to be able to match the resources and staying power that the major media outlets had. Back in the day, they used to have "underground newspapers" which would challenge the "establishment" newspapers.

    I won't say that they had a monopoly on news, but they (along with their counterparts in the entertainment media) have been quite a dominant force in shaping the popular culture, public opinion, and the hearts and minds of Americans for quite a long time. But now, what they seem to be saying is that they're losing their audience. They're losing their "grip" on the truth or at least their version of the truth which they've enjoyed being the prominent arbiter on that subject.

    As for the issues of propaganda and fake news, I would say it's more a matter of let the buyer beware. Just because it's on the internet doesn't mean people have to believe it. People just need to smarten up and be able to see through that kind of stuff. Most people are smart enough to realize that if they see a commercial for "Honest John's Used Cars," they would put up a certain filter, since they realize that he's only trying sell cars and might try to pass off any amount of BS to make a sale. They could do the same thing when they hear propaganda or fake news (or any news, for that matter). They could do their own homework, look under the hood, check the VIN, do some research - and the internet has made that immensely convenient.

    Just because a lot of people don't do that - that's not the internet's fault. It's just people who are messed up; and somehow they need to be protected from anything that might upset them.

    Another thing that comes to mind is that these are the issues that seem to be of greatest concern to the powers that be in media and government. If there is a need for reform in the internet, it's not so much "trolls" as much as it is the con artists, fraudsters, and others who game the system to dupe innocent people. A troll can be bothersome and offensive, but a thief is still a thief. That's what they should focus on.
     
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  9. Hammerheart

    Hammerheart Blood Fire Death

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    I think the internet provides a portal for people to express their idiocy and go around insulting and flaming each other in ways they would never have the audacity to do in person. With that said, I don't think that it is getting worse, or that it will get worse. There's no need for sites like Google to censor anything (unless it's something incriminating of course, unless Google wants a lawsuit. The internet is cultivating weakness.
     
  10. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Kissed by fire

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    It's already made things so much worse in so many ways, that at times I wonder if we'd be better off without?
     
  11. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva
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    Trolling/bullying (on the internet) is a teeny bit overblown in my estimation. Like TV, one can simply turn it off, get up and walk away. You know, go do something in the real world for a bit. What a concept. Though this kind of behavior is lamentable it does exist for a reason. People expose a lot of silly stuff on the net and then wonder why people point and laugh. How rude is that, eh? The world is filled with all kinds of people with different cultural/ethical/political ideas and in an arena of contrasting ideas one should expect sparks to fly. The downside to this is the alternative of a tightly controlled internet where you can get into trouble for saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, where your cyber talk could have real world consequences.

    What is deeply concerning is if groups/companies/governments try to force people to behave. Where do the lines get drawn? Who decides where to draw the lines? Who enforces the rulings? What penalties would be imposed? Heck, you can already be fired for a Twitter tirade and bosses already want to inspect your Facebook page to see if you are a good fit for their team.

    I've been an internet user for over 22 years now and was the first on my block to have high speed access. Back in the wild days, there was so much out there to search for and find whereas nowadays we seem to have become a race fixated on inane cat videos.

    I'm less concerned about so-called fake news on the net. I understand that some ignorant hillbillies, who are too lazy or differently motivated, may not understand how to track down a story to get to the facts but I'm not so sure we need official watchdogs to protect the abjectly stupid from their own inability to get to the facts.

    That reminds me of the many days I'd come in from my bungalow to the main house for breakfast and my mom would be ranting about what Obama had just said. Bemused, I'd listen to what had rankled her and would most often say, "But mom, he is NOT lying. He is simply promoting a narrative that is using selective bits of truth. He is not telling the whole truth, just the parts he wants to move forward." (Or something similar to that.)

    Likewise, most major news networks have gotten black eyes over the years for being less than scrupulous in their fact-checking in order to titillate viewers, especially during the various sweeps. It's not that they are outright lying. They are simply telling us their version of the truth while deftly leaving out all mention of anything contrary to the narrative they are promoting. In my view, all political persuasions are currently guilty of this affectation.
     
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  12. Quetzal

    Quetzal A little to the left and slightly out of focus.
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    Phrases like this make me cringe. They are giving us their opinion. Truth does not have versions. Facts do not have political alignment. The idea that phrases like "alternative facts" exist and come from the executive branch of the government is alarming and make me furious.
     
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  13. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen uǝɥʇɐǝH ɹǝɥʇɐℲ

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    It's not the internet that's bad, but rather the social attitudes and norms of many who use it.
     
  14. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Internet needs control according to the culture of the place. For India, the first thing should be pornography and gambling
     
  15. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva
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    While I agree with your sentiments, it isn't a case of so-called "alternative facts", but rather a selective use of given facts to promote given narratives. It's all about spin.
     
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  16. Quetzal

    Quetzal A little to the left and slightly out of focus.
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    Gotcha. Perhaps it has always been there, but in the last cycle there were quite a few outlets that produced down right false accusations. On both sides.
     
  17. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva
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    My belief is such novelties are predicated on the not unfounded presumption that all too many voters are as dumb as a sack of hammers. It's a sad state of affairs when folks are banking on this type of propaganda to further their cause(s).

    Further to this, I'm glad to hear people finally talking about fake news, now I'm trembling with excitement at the prospect of "false narratives".
     
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  18. CogentPhilosopher

    CogentPhilosopher Philosophy Student

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    And who decides what is good and bad?

    The internet should be free. By having true freedom of ideas the internet can be very useful.

    EDIT: Also I find it kind it kind of misleading to claim there is only one culture of peace.
     
  19. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    I've been part of online interaction since the early days of usenet, and, honestly, although there is more volume now, the level and intensity of negative interactions doesn't come close to what you'd see in those days. Of course, part of that was a generally more complex level of discourse, if not always more elevated.

    And, as for actual trolling - it's pretty much impossible to meaningfully and successfully troll someone who isn't basically a troll themselves, already - or, at least, hard to troll anyone who has anything of value to offer or who is sincerely interested in open dialogue. Most people who get trolled (not bullied), are people who are essentially asking for it.
     
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  20. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    India is a democracy, therefore, the elected representatives of the people decide. No, we do not believe in freedom without restraints of responsibilities.

    Did I claim that Hinduism is a religion of peace? We would certainly like to give it back the way we get it.