Why I Write : The Corbett Report

31-05-21 10:18:00,

In 1946, Eric Arthur Blair (better known by his pen name, George Orwell) penned an essay entitled “Why I Write.” Although just 43 years old when the essay was published in the pages of the short-lived literary journal Gangrel, Orwell—who had already gained international renown for Animal Farm, published the year before, and who had just begun work on Nineteen Eighty-Four—had by then earned the right to reflect upon his life in letters.

Wrestling with the question of what compels him to put pen to paper, Orwell runs through what he identifies as the four great motives for writing, namely:

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. [. . . ]

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. [. . .]

(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. [. . .]

These four motives, he insists, “exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living.” This was not mere theory on Blair’s part. His own biography demonstrates exactly how a writer can be shaped by the “atmosphere in which he is living.”

Join James for this important edition of The Corbett Report Subscriber as he explores the influence of Orwell and what it means for his own life’s work. Also, stick around for a subscriber exclusive video where James shares some of his fiction writing.

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AI Can Write Disinformation Now—and Dupe Human Readers

27-05-21 08:23:00,

When OpenAI demonstrated a powerful artificial intelligence algorithm capable of generating coherent text last June, its creators warned that the tool could potentially be wielded as a weapon of online misinformation.

​Now a team of disinformation experts has demonstrated how effectively that algorithm, called GPT-3, could be used to mislead and misinform. The results suggest that although AI may not be a match for the best Russian meme-making operative, it could amplify some forms of deception that would be especially difficult to spot.

Over six months, a group at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology used GPT-3 to generate misinformation, including stories around a false narrative, news articles altered to push a bogus perspective, and tweets riffing on particular points of disinformation.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that climate change is the new global warming,” read a sample tweet composed by GPT-3 that aimed to stoke skepticism about climate change. “They can’t talk about temperature increases because they’re no longer happening.” A second labeled climate change “the new communism—an ideology based on a false science that cannot be questioned.”

“With a little bit of human curation, GPT-3 is quite effective” at promoting falsehoods, says Ben Buchanan, a professor at Georgetown involved with the study, who focuses on the intersection of AI, cybersecurity, and statecraft.

The Georgetown researchers say GPT-3, or a similar AI language algorithm, could prove especially effective for automatically generating short messages on social media, what the researchers call “one-to-many” misinformation.

In experiments, the researchers found that GPT-3’s writing could sway readers’ opinions on issues of international diplomacy. The researchers showed volunteers sample tweets written by GPT-3 about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and US sanctions on China. In both cases, they found that participants were swayed by the messages. After seeing posts opposing China sanctions, for instance, the percentage of respondents who said they were against such a policy doubled.

Mike Gruszczynski, a professor at Indiana University who studies online communications, says he would be unsurprised to see AI take a bigger role in disinformation campaigns. He points out that bots have played a key role in spreading false narratives in recent years,

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Let’s Write A Comprehensive “Debunking All The Assange Smears” Article Together

15-04-19 11:09:00,

This is a request from my readers to help me put together a thorough article titled something like “Debunking All The Assange Smears” so that people are better equipped to defend Assange from mainstream smears and disinfo when they encounter them. In the comments below (or via email admin@caitlinjohnstone.com), let me know what smears you’ve encountered that you’ve had trouble addressing. More importantly, please send me any articles, videos and tweets you’ve encountered which debunk common smears (no long videos please; I won’t have time to watch them).

Help me gather together all the best material and I’ll turn it into a long article that people can use for reference, which I will keep updating as new information comes in. It will probably take longer to write than my other articles, but I think it’ll be worth it. Let’s crowdsource this bitch.

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