Connect with us


The Age of Misinformation: Is the Truth Dead? – ReadWrite



The Age of Misinformation: Is the Truth Dead? - ReadWrite

We live in an era of distrust. People of all backgrounds and political affiliations are increasingly distrusting the individuals, the platforms, and even the news media companies that present them with information. And on top of that, we’re learning about malicious actors intentionally trying to manipulate the public with bad information.

We entered into the 2000s believing we were building the information age, but it’s turned into something closer to the “misinformation age.” Is the truth dead? What’s responsible for this problem, and how can we move forward with a reliable sense of what’s true?

Information Accessibility

Information accessibility seemed like it would immediately democratize news (and information in general). And to be sure, this has inspired a wave of transparency across some industries and organizations. However, this isn’t exclusively a “good” thing for truth.

For starters, accessibility works both ways. Thanks to the internet, anyone can search for anything they want—meaning they can conduct their own research. But it also means that anyone can create any kind of content they want—which means they can write a blog post about how all U.S. presidents have secretly been cyborgs and nobody can stop them.

The combination of these effects means it’s possible for anyone to find almost any information. With confirmation bias and information accessibility in play, you can find a source that backs up your beliefs — no matter how wildly untrue they are.

Echo Chambers

The plethora of information bracketed in bias, delivered directly to your favored sites — leads to the effects of echo chambers. An echo chamber is any kind of community or platform where people tend to share the same opinions, limiting the influence of novel or competing thoughts.

For example, if you frequently post on a forum about how great the Star Wars prequels were and you ban anyone who says they were awful, you’ll find yourself in a self-sustained community that only believes the Star Wars prequels were good.

Echo chambers have devastating effects, especially on a large scale. For starters, people in an echo chamber don’t know they’re in an echo chamber, and they’re inclined to double down on their beliefs — regardless of how much they do or do not reflect reality. On top of that, echo chambers have a tendency to ridicule and exaggerate the beliefs of others, resulting in distorted thinking about whatever the “other side” is.

If you personally subscribe to Star Wars prequel quality, this is no big deal. The danger comes when the echo chamber rings in someone’s head as “true” and brings about “a causation.” Causation is the action and there is always a consequence to the action. What is the consequence of those doubting the validity of a pandemic or questioning the legitimacy of a political candidate? People can be inspired to take drastic—and sometimes violent—action.

Echo chambers don’t distort the truth; they just serve as a kind of filter that eventually leads to distorted thinking. They make it harder to find the truth, or be sure that what you’re reading is the truth.

Attention Spans, the News Cycle, and Headline Impact

We also need to look at the complicated interactions between human attention spans, the news cycle, and the current state of news media overall. Over time, the news model has changed. The rollout of 24-hour news broadcasts, early in the internet’s development, incentivized media companies to release new information as quickly as possible; in other words, they began to favor fast dispersal over inherent accuracy.

These days, the effects are even more severe. The majority of people who get their news via social media don’t read full articles; instead, they read headlines and assume they know the rest of the context. This is part of what makes “fake news” so powerful; despite being riddled with obvious inaccuracies in the body of an article, a sufficiently emotion-provoking headline can rouse the masses.

Incentives for Journalists and Newspapers

Incentives for journalists and newspapers aren’t the only problem with news media in the modern world. We also need to look at the incentive structures currently in place for both journalists and newspapers. The old news model relied on paying subscribers; if your newspaper had a good reputation, people would subscribe to it, and you’d be able to make money.

These days, if you want to succeed, you need to provide your content for free and make money with advertising. The only way to get advertising dollars is to get clicks to your website. And the only real way to get clicks to your website is to be sensational; you have to release new content faster than your competitors, evoke strong emotions, and inspire curiosity. And none of these goals has anything to do with providing the truth.

That’s not to say there aren’t good journalists or news media companies out there. But the best ones at finding the truth end up getting far less attention and less money under this model.

Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers

We tend to rely on trustworthy websites as our barometer for truth. If we read something wild on the internet, we turn to a source we know and trust to see if what we read is accurate. But who’s checking the fact-checkers?

Fact-checking websites and “authoritative” sources are often an extension of the echo chamber effect. Even some of our most trusted institutions and organizations have subtly become biased over the years or have resorted to providing mere snippets of information rather than the full context of a situation. People use these sources not to research and discover more, but to quickly prove themselves right in the middle of an argument with someone else.

Technology Advancements

Everything is made even more complicated by advancements in technology that make it easier for people to distort the truth—or fabricate a new kind of truth entirely. New kinds of content are very exciting from an entertainment perspective, but terrifying from a truth management perspective.

Take Deepfakes as an example here. With Deepfake technology, a person can replicate the face, expressiveness, and voice of a famous person, inserting them into previously existing footage. At its most innocent, this is a great way to see how an actor like Tom Holland might have looked in an older movie like Back to the Future. But it could also be a way to provide video “evidence” that a politician said something—even if they never truly said it.

The Power of User Manipulation

There are more incentives to lie than there are incentives to tell the truth. Lying is more flexible, because there are more falsehoods than accurate ways to describe the recent past or current events. Lying allows you to persuade people in a way that moves closer to your agenda, whatever it happens to be. Lying is also easier, because you never have to do any research to back up your claims.

Countless actors, from media companies to foreign states, are willing to lie to achieve their goals—even if those goals are altruistic. User manipulation is just too powerful and too accessible to ignore.

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Leadership can be highly influential. When a small handful of individuals and companies benefit from lying, manipulating the public, and segregating us into echo chambers, others are inclined to follow. This has created a kind of snowball effect in which more and more people are willing to bend or break the truth to suit their needs.

How Important is the Truth?

At a certain point, we need to ask ourselves how important the truth really is. On an individual level, the importance of truth is obvious; it leads to trust, helps us build bonds, and helps us access the things we need. But on a social level, does it really matter if one isolated group on the internet believes in a crazy conspiracy theory?

There are philosophical arguments to be made that the truth is subjective, that it can never be known, or that believing an untruth isn’t inherently bad. However, it does seem like for our society to keep moving forward, we need some reliable way to evaluate the truth—if we can’t discover and distribute it ourselves.

What Can Be Done?

So what can we do about this? The power and impact of Deepfakes, fake news, and other tools of manipulation are so complex, so multifaceted, and so widespread that no single law could resolve them. Instead, we’ll have to rely on changing human perspectives and behaviors—and that’s something that tends to happen gradually, over time.

The age of misinformation is in full swing, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. But in time, we may rediscover the values most necessary for us to trust each other and collaborate.

Image Credit: aleksandar pasaric; pexels

Timothy Carter

Chief Revenue Officer

Timothy Carter is the Chief Revenue Officer of the Seattle digital marketing agency, & He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach…preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee.


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

Continue Reading


Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

Continue Reading


UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2021 Seminole Press.