Edtech News Round Up: Mind-Reading Algorithms And The War On Fake News


Are algorithms conditioning how we think? How can we overcome fake news? Is it time to boycott school?


Are Algorithms Hacking Our Thoughts?

Is it possible that humans have begun to mimic algorithmic processes? Should we be concerned about the possibility of algorithms predicting our thoughts?

With so much information available online, we’re bombarded every day with content we cannot possibly process. Algorithms help simplify things somewhat, but some have suggested that they’ve gone too far.

The following three areas represent a portion of those in which algorithms could be second-guessing our thoughts by tracking our behavior.

1.Product Comparison: From Online Shopping to Dating

Dating today is very like online shopping. People browse options, compare features and select the one that’s the best fit for what they want.

Regardless of whether we are online shopping or dating, algorithms condition us to search, test, compare, and always browse for further options. Or we could let the algorithms do it for us.

2. Quantifying people: Ratings and Reviews

Companies now use digital feedback in order to better serve their customers’ needs. Using feedback on services and products, algorithms can provide targeted recommendations based on what you’ve indicated you like.

With algorithms attaching a digital score to both the consumer and the product or service interaction, people have also become overly concerned with how they are perceived.

3. Automating Language: Keywords and Buzzwords

Much like the algorithms involved in search engines such as Google Adwords, our minds prioritize information base on keywords, repetition, and cues.

Technology gives us clear patterns to navigate choice and therefore there is less of a need to actually think. However, most consumers are not exactly sure how these patterns work as all the code is hidden.

As our digital social spheres consist of like-minded people with similar opinions. As a result, it’s easier for fake news, misinformation, and social media targeting to thrive and influence our thoughts on real-life issues.

So the question is, what happens when we operate exactly as the algorithm intended?

What Will It Take to Combat Disinformation in the Digital Age?

Fake news examples are all over Facebook and other forms of social media. Although disinformation and fake news stories have existed before the creation of these media platforms, the digital landscape has taken these fake stories to a whole new level of exposure and maximized impact.

Recently the New America Education Policy Program and Open Technology Institute and the First Amendment Coalition hosted a panel to discuss how policymakers, companies, and users can fight the growing threat of misinformation and fake news.

The main topic discussed was whether or not technology companies have a role in moderating online speech that’s considered falsified.

Policy-makers are calling on companies to make more of a collective effort to police falsified content on their platforms. However, most companies are hesitant to take responsibility for determining what forms of speech are legitimate and which are fake news.

If policymakers are encouraging companies to censor content on internet platforms it could raise some concerns about freedom of speech and expression online.

But social media platforms cannot alone be responsible for combating fake news. One way to give users more control in the battle between information and misinformation is to start in schools by teaching students better critical thinking skills.

Arne Duncan Is Serious: Americans Should Boycott School

Recently Arne Duncan, former Secretary of Education under the Obama administration sat down with The Atlantic to discuss the need for American families to start fighting for stricter gun laws.

Duncan suggests that America’s 50 million school parents should pull their kids from school until we have more strict gun laws.

Duncan recognizes that this is a radical suggestion yet he hopes that the mere suggestion proves thought-provoking. Teachers have previously boycotted schools for higher pay. Kids have done the same for gun-violence issues. Duncan suggests it’s time for parents to take action too.

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