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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

The paradox of information

Mark Zuckerberg's recent speech argued that Facebook's unregulated platform of (dis and mis-) information is to be preferred over the Chinese information model, mandated by its government. Let's call this dilemma the paradox of information, similar to Karl Popper's paradox of tolerance: "In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance."

The paradox of tolerance by Karl Popper lies at the heart of the increasing criticism towards Facebook. It didn't help that Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that the deliberate disinformation and misinformation on his Facebook platform was helpful in the election of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. President (eg, Independent-2017, The Verge-2017, Vox-2017).

My April 2018 blog touched upon the same issue: The paradox of limiting free speech to defend free speech. Once you start limiting free speech then the floodgates are open. The precedent of limiting free speech will be used for demanding further limitations on free speech. China's 2020 Social Credit System shows the direction when allowing such a precedent.

The reasoning in the above paragraph led to my subsequent 11 July 2018 blog: Paradigm shift in the belief system the Truth. That blog argues that societies will migrate from the belief system the Truth (eg, Facebook) towards (mandated) Data-Info (eg, my 2017 blog China: from Hukou to Social Credit). Similarly, another paradigm shift takes place: from Politics to Technology.

The end result is a significant weakening of the Knowledge = Power equation in favour of Power (my 12 July 2018 blog). To some extent, we can already witness this deterioration of Knowledge (eg, the ongoing attacks on expert knowledge). Similarly, the increase in Power can be witnessed in the rise of authoritarianism (eg, China, Philippines, Russia, Turkey, Trump's USA).

Hence, I think, feel and believe that Mark Zuckerberg is arguing a lost cause. Obviously, he must defend Facebook's underlying business model. His recent decision to allow false political ads has even further infuriated his many critics. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren used his decision for (falsely) advertising Zuckerberg's support for Trump's 2020 re-election on Facebook.

We are heading towards a vacuum in which information is becoming similar to unreliable data (eg, antivaxers, Brexiteers, climate hoax, ). More and more, governments cannot and will not allow the truth becoming a matter of civil debate (eg, China vs Hong Kong protests). In more and more countries, this debate on the truth is causing too much civil unrest (eg, angry Dutch farmers protests on 2019 nitrogen rules).

Please find below the first paragraph from the The Paradox of our Age, an essay by Dr. Bob Moorehead, pastor of Overlake Christian Church (eg, verification by Snopes). Please read the entire essay which also appeared in his 1995 book Words Aptly Spoken:
“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems; more medicine, but less wellness." 

Paradox (1977) by Kansas (live in 1982)


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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