Can Clever Smart Software Identify Misinformation?

December 8, 2022

My view is, “Nope.” What will marketers say? My thought is, “Anything, anything at all.”

Navigate to “Physicists Create a Wormhole Using a Quantum Computer.” Read it. Now click on “The Death of Quanta Magazine” and read the essay about the Wormhole write up. Here’s the question: “Can you identify the misinformation in each essay?” The $64 dollar question is: “Can smart software flag and tag the misinformation?”

My hunch is that most humans, even the highly intelligent ones reading my article about these two essays, will have a difficult time identifying factoids, hypotheses, and baloney. Now is smart software from one of the allegedly open source outfits or a rapacious but user friendly commercial service able to handle this task?

Let’s look at one passage from the “The Death of Quanta Magazine”; to wit:

While the article correctly points out that one needs negative energy to make a wormhole traversable, and that negative energy does not exist, and that the experiment merely simulated a negative energy pulse, the video has no such qualms. It directly stated that the experiment created a negative energy shockwave and used it to transmit qubits through the wormhole. For me the worst part of the video was at 11:53, where they showed a graph with a bright point labeled “negative energy peak” on it. The problem is that this is not a plot of data, it’s just a drawing, with no connection to the experiment. Lay people will think they are seeing actual data, so this is straightforward disinformation.

Several observations:

  • An article and a video. The combo suggests that presumably intelligent people writing about what is allegedly a scientific presentation are chasing the ethos of TikTok and YouTube. Interesting but didn’t Newton get along with a pen and paper?
  • Fancy lingo. Yep, holograms, sci-fi sounding jargon like negative energy, and obligatory static graphs.
  • Experts. Wow. Experts offered up without much context. Impressive indeed.
  • Meta-commentary. I love it when articles comment on other articles. Great fun.

The problem is that smart software may struggle with the nuances in the two articles. Quanta will do an article about that soon I expect.

Content marketing, pseudo tech baloney, and clicks. Yeah.

Stephen E Arnold, December 8, 2022


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