Just Check Your Currency

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In our epistemic crisis, you shouldn't be blamed for wondering: Who can I trust? The Amazon Product du Jour has one possible answer. And that answer has the official backing of Your Federal Government.

But maybe you're not a believer. And, even if you are, you might worry about practical issues, like setting up a reliable communication link between you and the Almighty.

And maybe you're worried about anyone who claims to have a reliable communication link to the Big Guy in the Sky. Should you trust them? Er…

Anyway, that's sort of a side issue. At Reason, Robin Hanson asks Can We Trust A.I. To Tell the Truth?

"Disinformation is by no means a new concern, yet…innovative technologies…have enabled the dissemination of unparalleled volumes of content at unprecedented speeds," reads a November 2022 United Nations report. Likewise, a January 2023 NewsGuard newsletter said "ChatGPT could spread toxic misinformation at unprecedented scale."

The very idea of "disinformation" sounds terrible: poor innocent victims viciously assaulted by malicious liars. At first glance, I'm sympathetic to the idea we should stop people from saying false things, when we can find truth-authorities to at least roughly distinguish what is false. Thankfully, many widely respected authorities—including journalists, academics, regulators, and licensed professionals—do offer such services.

But we also have meta-authorities—that is, authorities on the general topic of "censorship," such as John Milton, John Stuart Mill, Voltaire, George Orwell, Friedrich Hayek, Jürgen Habermas, Noam Chomsky, and Hannah Arendt. Most meta-authorities have warned against empowering authorities to limit what people can say, at least outside of extreme cases.

Robin's advice: AI might, or might not, be trustworthy. But you should make your own call on that. The last people you should trust are those who want to prevent you from making up your own mind.

Also of note:

  • Duh. David Harsnyi has an example of someone you shouldn't trust: CNN’s Dana Bash.

    While wrapping up a recent segment with an Iowa pro-life advocate, CNN’s Dana Bash let her audience know that despite her guest’s contentions, she had never “talked to a Democrat who wants abortion-on-demand until time of birth.”

    Just because Democrats haven’t talked to Bash about personally driving pregnant women down to Maryland’s all-trimester abortion clinic or Warren Hern’s busy Boulder shop — where he admits to performing late-term abortions on perfectly healthy women and fetuses — those places still exist. And they exist because Democrats, including the president, support legal abortion for any reason until the moment of birth.

    Media types like Bash never "talked" about that, because it's a detail that the Enlightened avoid talking about precisely, preferring to obfuscate with terms like "health care".

  • Veronique de Rugy wants to talk, but who wants to listen? After the U.S. Credit Downgrade, Let's Talk About a Radical Budgetary Change. She plugs the "BRAC"-style reform (we discussed that here a few days ago.)

    But here's another idea:

    Making continuing appropriations automatic in case of a lapse could remove the threat of shutdowns. As explained in one senator's proposal, if appropriations work isn't done, "implement an automatic continuing resolution (CR), on rolling 14-day periods, based on the most current spending levels enacted in the previous fiscal year." Further, to avoid over-relying on CRs, "all Members of Congress must stay in Washington, D.C., and work until the spending bills are completed."

    I rather like the idea of constraining our "public servants" to the Federal District. How about not paying their salaries either?

Last Modified 2024-01-11 2:56 PM EDT