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Truth, trust, and algorithms

Be aware of the role of artificial intelligence in elections, especially in your social media timeline. Truth and trust should go hand in hand.

Photo: [link]Igor Omilaev[/link], Unsplash, CC0.

Do you trust politicians? How do you know you can trust her or him? And what do algorithms have to do with this? Please, read on!

Last week, I stumbled upon a commercial on television and while watching, I got the slightest impression something with the actor in the advertisement wasn’t quite right.

After a quick search on the internet, I found that the exact same TV commercial was available in several languages, same setting, same actor, same voice, same intonation, just in a different language.

That could not be, could it? Well, not really. But with the current state of artificial intelligence, it is now possible, and many might not even notice.

Finding the different versions of the advertisement, I asked myself how these versions were related to our understanding of truth. Was the actor truly speaking all these languages? And if not, would that really matter?

We could shrug our shoulders as it is only a commercial. But if they can do it with an actor in a commercial, they could do it with other, more influential people too.

When you see a short video featuring a politician presenting some (radical) plan, making a mistake, or responding in an odd way, we now might have to wonder whether we can still trust this. Did she or he really say or do that?

And why did you see this video in the first place? Why was a certain clip or article included in your social media timeline?

Is your timeline still a fair representation of the truth in all its diversity? Or has the algorithm lured you into a certain bubble of more or less likeminded people, filtering out everyone who would challenge your opinion?

Especially in an election season, it is imperative to ponder on these disconcerting questions.

[destacate]Is your timeline still a fair representation of the truth in all its diversity?[/destacate] Parties and candidates will be doing all they can to get your vote, presenting their version of the truth. This will include buying advertising space on social media for as specific a target audience as possible.

Algorithms will discern these audiences and they might include you. The algorithm won’t explain why and staff using it might not be able to.

This is just to say that it won’t do any harm to think twice when you read or watch the news, and when you check your social media timeline. Who or what is the source and what could be their agenda in sharing this with you?

I started with a relatively harmless example of the use of artificial intelligence in a TV commercial, or actually, in a series of TV commercials. But there’s much worse.

Using artificial intelligence, politicians have been presented as acting in a porn video. That could be quite an effective way to undermine their credibility and bring an end to their career. But even if not, it’s a gross violation of the truth.

We do not want to scare you off, but we want you to be aware of the role of artificial intelligence in elections, especially in your social media timeline. Truth and trust should go hand in hand.

And as Christians, we should care about the truth, even more than anybody else, as we are followers of the One who declared Himself to be the way and the truth and the life.

For more on the European Elections 2024, please, check the resources on the EEA website

Arie de Pater, head of the Brussels office of the European Evangelical Alliance.




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