Useful Concept: Algorithmic Censorship

January 28, 2022

This year I will be 78. Exciting. I create blog posts because it makes life in the warehouse for the soon-to-be-dead bustle along. That’s why it is difficult for me to get too excited about the quite insightful essay called “Censorship By Algorithm Does Far More Damage Than Conventional Censorship.”

Here’s the paragraph I found particularly important:

… far more consequential than overt censorship of individuals is censorship by algorithm. No individual being silenced does as much real-world damage to free expression and free thought as the way ideas and information which aren’t authorized by the powerful are being actively hidden from public view, while material which serves the interests of the powerful is the first thing they see in their search results. It ensures that public consciousness remains chained to the establishment narrative matrix.

I would like to add several observations:

  1. There is little regulatory or business incentive to exert the mental effort necessary to work through content controls on the modern datasphere in the US and Western Europe. Some countries have figured it out and are taking steps to use the flows of information to create a shaped information payload
  2. The failure to curtail the actions of a certain high technology companies illustrates a failure in decision making. Examples range from information warfare for purposes of money or ideology allowed to operate unchecked to the inability of government officials to respond to train robberies in California
  3. The censorship by algorithm approach is new and difficult to understand in social and economic contexts. As a result, biases will be baked in because initial conditions evolve automatically and it takes a great deal of work to figure out what is happening. Disintegrative deplatforming is not a concept most people find useful.

What’s the outlook? For me, no big deal. For many, digital constructs. What’s real? The clanking of the wheelchair in the next room. For some, cluelessness or finding a life in the world of zeros and ones.

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2022


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