Elon Musk has, as I think about he typically does throughout conferences or lengthy automobile rides, provide you with an concept for a brand new factor. Not like the HyperLoop, which was cool, and varied space-related concepts, which we all know he’s at the very least partly knowledgeable about, this one is simply plain unhealthy. It’s principally Yelp However For Journalism.
He might as properly have mentioned, I discovered this nice can marked “worms” and I’m going to open it up, or, I’ve decided a brand new technique for herding cats.
The concept of holding publications and other people accountable is nice. Sadly it’s the sort of downside that doesn’t yield to even the perfect of intentions and sensible engineering, as a result of it’s rapidly sophisticated by the moral, procedural, and sensible questions of crowdsourcing “the reality.”
He agreed with one other Twitter person, whose remark is indistinguishable from sarcasm:
My guess is Musk doesn’t typically use Yelp, and has by no means operated a small enterprise like a restaurant or salon.
Particularly in right now’s fiercely divided web panorama, there isn’t any dependable metric for reality or accountability. Some will say the New York Occasions is probably the most trusted newspaper in America — others will name it a debased rag with a liberal agenda. Particular person tales will obtain the identical therapy, with some disputing what they consider are biases and others disputing those self same issues as completely factual.
And whereas the reality lies someplace in between these extremes, it’s unlikely to be the mathematical imply of them. The “knowledge of the group,” so typically evoked however so seldom demonstrated, can not rely upon an equal variety of folks being completely flawed in reverse methods, producing a kind of steady system of bias.
The forces at work right here — psychological, political, sociological, institutional — are refined and incalculable.
The origins of this religion, and of the concept there’s one way or the other a quorum of truth-seekers on this age of deception, are unclear.
Fb’s makes an attempt to crowdsource the legitimacy of reports tales has had blended outcomes, and the predictable final result is after all that individuals merely report information they disagree with as false. Unbiased adjudicators are wanted, and Fb has fired and employed them by the hundred, but to reach at some system that produces outcomes value speaking about.
Reality-checking websites carry out a useful service, however they’re labor-intensive, not a self-regulating system like what Musk proposes. Such techniques are inevitably and notoriously dominated by chaos, vote brigades, bots, infiltrators, brokers provocateur, and so forth.
Simpler mentioned than accomplished — the truth is, typically mentioned and by no means accomplished, for years and years and years, by some a few of the smartest folks within the trade. It’s to not say it’s unimaginable, however Musk’s glib positivity and ignorance or dismissal of a decade and extra of efforts on this entrance will not be inspiring. (Nate Silver, for one, is furious.)
Probably as an indication of his “religion within the folks,” if there are any on bot-ridden Twitter, he has put the concept up for public analysis.
Presently the vote is about 90 p.c sure. It’s laborious to elucidate how dumb that is. But like most efforts it is going to be instructive, each to others making an attempt to tame the zeitgeist, and hopefully to Musk.