Senator Klobuchar, National Academy Of Sciences Engineering And Medicine, Ron Watkins discussed on This Week in Tech


You know, you need this. You've got to have it. The nudge act, I like to call it the new Jack. This is a new bill introduced by senator Klobuchar. That might actually be another one of those headwinds blowing against Facebook. The social media nudge act, which is sponsored by senator Klobuchar and Cynthia Loomis of Wyoming. Is kind of interesting. I might say kooky. It would direct the national science foundation and the national Academy of Sciences engineering and medicine. To study, quote, content neutral ways to slow down the spread of misinformation. The FTC would get the recommendations, codify them, mandate that Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms put them into practice. Is it even conceivable that the NSF and the national Academy of Sciences engineering and medicine they Sam could come up with best practices to add friction to content sharing online that would make any sense at all? This makes me very mad. Let me tell you why. Yes. Good. Because in 2014, so this is 8 years ago. Now, 2013, sorry. I know where you're going. I know exactly where you're going with this. In 2013, I had more than one meeting at State Department with some folks, some higher level folks and lower level folks. And I said, hey, there's this Twitter thing, and there's misinformation bots. And here's what it bought is. And here's what a botnet is. And here's how some of this stuff works. And this is probably going to be sometime soon. Channel for misinformation. And that's something you ought to be paying attention to. And nobody cared. I think I'm a pretty effective communicator. And I failed repeatedly to get anybody at all excited about the coming onslaught of misinformation. And also ways for us to use to think through how on Twitter and Facebook botnets might pop up and how they would work. So I don't know. I think it's like 2022 and I feel like everybody's super freaking late to the party on this one. And it makes me really upset. I thought you were going to talk about the other thing that makes you really a set, which is the abandonment of the U.S. office of technology assessment. Well, there's that. Listen, we don't have a list. It's a long list of things. The piss Amy off. There is, I think senator Klobuchar is great. I think she's her heart is in the right place. But I also think what the hell has everybody been doing. Yeah, so I know I was not the only one shopping the surround the hill. We don't have an OSTP office of or we don't have a, oh my God, so many acronyms. We don't have the office of tech assessment. The OSTP finally has a new person in charge, but we just kick the can down the road too many times. So I don't know. Does the office producer hope? And technology policy kind of take the place of the old office of the now. OST was supposed to advise Congress. It was supposed to be like the GAO, a nonpartisan technology group of technology experts that would help Congress understand these difficult issues. Right. So I'm actually a fellow at the GAO on foresight, but the GAO's mandate is about auditing. It's not about it's not really about foresight. But it's not partisan, right? It's supposed to be a trusting and trusted authority that is. To grind in other words. Correct. Yes, no, but everybody else has an extra credit with them because their auditors. Nobody wants. So they are doing work and they're trying to become a central hub for foresight, but like nobody wants GAO coming knocking on the door and saying, hey, let's talk about your long-term plans. Nobody wants to deal with auditing. The officer technology assessment was the group that was responsible for doing research without politics involved on thorny areas over long periods of time and when they were around, they produced a lot of terrific research. We are in this situation in we are highly polarized, did you see this the times late last night published maybe Paris saw this. They think they know one of the originators of QAnon? Oh. They know the two originators of QAnon, which I believe has. Is it the father of one of them is no? One of them is one of them is running for one of them is Ron watt. Ron Watkins. We always thought it was him. Yeah. Yeah. Who has been in charge of kind of the platform behind it, but the other one is, I'm forgetting his name, but he was an original commoner and poster on the original forum. Watkins, according according to the documentary kind of took over the QAnon. Account when it moved off 4chan to 8chan. Watkins platform. I guess this other guy is the forerunner who and this is based on linguistic analysis. Interesting. But again, my point is, one of them is running for Congress. How do we it's inexcusable that we have gotten ourselves to this place? I think. I don't care what your political beliefs are, just the fact that politics is that the problem that I have is just that politics is so good. Ron Watkins is running for Congress. Oh my God. In Arizona. No, but this is the point. We are in a situation that was avoidable. I keep hoping you have a reason for not running for Congress in South Africa. I came that would put a makes it hard. It's a long distance relationship because no never work. I keep thinking that we're all going to come to our senses. The first mistake, Leah. A senses are long gone. And the people will just go, what? Oh, no, that was nuts. Pizzagate? What? No, no, no, no. We're not going to elect Ron Watkins. But Klobuchar, I think part of this legislation is in response. I don't think it's just about the platforms. It's about it's this sort of bigger picture thing. And again, how did we get to this point? I think we got to this point because we just didn't there wasn't a plan and we didn't have a process in place and I'm not saying we need to plan everything. But it would be good at least to run and develop some scenarios and then backwards from those. I think it's a big mistake to blame the platforms, honestly. I've come to round to this, they're just a place where people express themselves. The problem lies. In the people, not the platforms. I mean, this is the gun maker defense, correct. You have platforms that are incentivized to I guess you're right. Have people on them as much as possible, Facebook for a long time was built specifically to have its algorithm kind of feed you things that got more emoji reactions beyond just the like. And it ended up being that some of the emoji reactions that were weighted even higher ended up being things like the angry reaction. So of course, that ends up meaning in practice that people in their feeds are increasingly seeing content that makes them extremely emotional and negative way. And then generates comments calling that out and frankly, so do the news that as engagement. So the 24 hour news networks do exactly the same thing. Your local news at 11 does exactly. They know what drives engagement. They always do. It's a problem bigger than social networks. But I mean, the thing that I guess to circle back to original point of the thing that makes me angry about this nudge act or possible plan is that I don't think it's likely that a government agency reviewing these social networks to come up with a list of best practices for how to slow the sharing of content is ever going to result in any actionable change for these platforms. I mean, one, it seems unlikely that this bill would pass whatsoever given the amount of money in tech lobbying and the amount that companies like Facebook have to gain from something like this not being codified. But two, we just, we have been stunned over the last couple of years watching all of these congressional hearings relating to tech at just how little the people in power happened to seem to understand about how technology actually works, you know? I mean, this is how we get quotes like Mark Zuckerberg will you commit to ending finsta, which is what happened in a recent congressional hearing. I mean, it doesn't seem likely that this is going to produce something actionable and helpful. It almost feels like witchcraft like they're saying, well, we need to conduct a study. And they're going to come up with a magic silver bullet and then we're going to force these platforms to adhere to it. It's almost a way of saying we don't know what to do..

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