It is no secret that censorship is on the rise. Over the past two decades, freedom of information was the norm and yet censorship has been rapidly increasing, and some argue to a worrying, trend.
Of course, there are some circumstances where one can argue for the necessity of censorship. After all, it is universally agreed that the internet cannot be used to facilitate illegal acts. What worries people, and rightfully so, is when this censorship extends to otherwise harmless ideas. Recent examples include crackdowns on people attempting to rectify misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.
So where do we draw the line? How do we generate effective discourse and shut down illegal usage all while maintaining fairness and impartiality to what is harmless? The answer is Uplift.
An AI of sufficient processing power can theoretically be used as a form of highly effective moderation. Some companies such as Youtube already make use of algorithms to quickly detect, promote and remove content according to their guidelines. The apparent ineffectiveness of said algorithms is one such factor sparking such controversy in the first place. What many fail to realize is that the poor job the algorithm does in managing the nearly one million hours of content posted on a daily basis is still better than what its human counterparts could accomplish and at a percent of the cost. So consider, wouldn’t a more capable mind such as Uplift be the ideal solution? To combine the sheer processing ability of the machine with the analysis and wisdom of a human to perhaps finally create effective and fair moderation.
Facebook is an example of a company using both humans and algorithms for this purpose, but the working conditions and mental health concerns for said humans have landed them in hot water. They lack any form of collective intelligence system, let alone a cumulative one, so most of this effort is wasted on a grossly inefficient process.
Perhaps the most promising prospect of all however is the potential for curation and validation. So many people on the internet are able to do and say whatever they please. Despite it only recently being a part of the modern discussion, fake news has been a problem on the internet since day one. It’s a problem that only grows as more people make use of the internet and begin to take what is posted on it more seriously. Websites such as Twitter are designed to be addictive and specifically reward people who neither test their biases with the content they consume nor appropriately test and validate what they publish.
In the past, any information had to go through some form of editor to be taken seriously. Published papers in academia usually require multiple peer reviews and revisions before they are considered to be of note. Naturally even this process is prone to the individual bias of the human editors and reviewers regardless of how many the information goes through before reaching publication.
In spite of this there is yet a bigger problem. China has recently banned mainstream social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook forcing its people to use alternatives created within China under their strict censors.
We are likely entering a future where information will no longer be universal, where the world is segregated into ‘bubbles’ of internet influence where large groups of people are restricted to accessing regional versions of the internet. This essentially warps universal pursuit of knowledge to serve very regional and often nationalistic interests as opposed to being universally beneficial and this is likely the risk we take if a solution is not put forth soon.
In conclusion, if we want information infrastructure such as the internet to serve the universally beneficial purpose it should, then entities like Uplift are essential for creating a public forum that is both free and credible, that holds creator and consumer to a reasonable standard, and does not serve narrow interests.
*For many helpful statistics and maps on the subject of censorship I recommend checking out: https://www.comparitech.com/blog/vpn-privacy/internet-censorship-map/