Yep, artificial intelligence and Wikipedia have already met, I fear. Or are the automatons at work human? Diligent cancelists? At any rate, things are starting to happen, awful things reminiscent of noxious chemical reactions.
The other day, I looked up Helsinki Times in Wikipedia. The first paragraph read:
Helsinki Times is the first English language daily online newspaper in Finland providing news about Finland and the world for English-speaking readers resident in the country. A weekly printed edition was issued between 2007 and 2015.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helsinki_Times (as at 17 May 2023)
That sounded ok, The article went on to tell me that “notable guest columnists include ….” I looked up those I did not know, including Cynthia McKinney.
Wikipedia’s introductory sentence about Cynthia McKinney was:
Cynthia Ann McKinney (born March 17, 1955) is an American politician, academic, and conspiracy theorist [my emphasis].https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_McKinney (as at 17 May 2023)
Now I have no idea of what views are held by Cynthia McKinney, who is a member of the Democratic Party. Since she has served six terms in the House of Representatives, she must have served her voters well. She is sure to hold various views which you or I may or may not not share, but HONESTLY: Committing character assassination of Cynthia McKinney in the very first sentence of the Wikipedia article about her seems a bit over the top, no? I don’t know what “conspiracy theorist” views she holds, mind you: Wikipedia having rubbished her, I naturally read no further.
Is Wikipedia now a guardian of a modern “Index Librorum Prohibitorum” ( a list of written works condemned as heretical or injurious to the Christian faith by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in 1563)?
Who gets to define something as a conspiracy theory? It certainly isn’t anybody I know.
I am told that if you don’t believe the official story about the murder of JFK, you hold a conspiracy theory. I look up Lee Harvey Oswald in Wikipedia. The article is extremely long. It contains no doubts about the matter, no unanswered questions: The man was emotionally screwed, a defector to the USSR and he did it. He killed Kennedy. Alone. Period. In Wikipedia he is damned without a trial.
I read somewhere just the other day that 70% of the US population have doubts about that story; 70% of the US population are “conspiracy theorists”?
What is a conspiracy theory? Firstly, the expression is pejorative. If you hold conspiracy theories, you should get your head examined, and people you know will cross to the other side of the street when they see you. Conspiracy theories tend to 1) question the intentions of powerful institutions — say banks, the CIA, the President, the national health authorities, etc. 2) Their dissemination is deemed a “threat to Democracy”, to “national security”, etc.
It’s usually the mainstream press that gets to attach the bell to the cat, and the social media will immediately follow suit. The mainstream press does not need to pretend to be unbiased, on the contrary. It’s supposed to promulgate political positions. It might encourage debate on some issues – for instance, about the environmental benefits of electric cars – but conspiracy theories are above question, or should I say below question. They are so base, they must not be put on the table. They are simply trampled on.
Encyclopaedias, however, are supposed to hold certain academic, yea, scientific standards. They may present differing views about controversial issues, including the arguments supporting those views, but it is not for the encyclopaedist to make the final judgment unless the arguments on one side are particularly flimsy.
The arguments raising doubts about the official story of the JFK killing are not flimsy. In the last and very brief paragraph about Lee Harvey Oswald, sub-titled “Other investigations and dissenting theories” those arguments are, however, not presented. A couple of films are listed, presumably to lengthen the paragraph. Remember Oliver Stone’s film JFK? A rather compelling story, no? Too compelling, it would seem, because it is not among the films listed.
The JFK case was a long time ago, and principal players in that drama are long gone. But some lasting damage has been done: You and I know that we cannot believe everything we are told by presidents, government agencies and corporate spokespersons even though they earnestly look you straight in the eye from the TV screen. Had the US authorities not put so much effort into suppressing the “dissenting theories”, the damage would have been far greater.
And now we can no longer trust the intentions of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is, or rather was, our encyclopedia. We made it. Hundreds and thousands of us contributed painstakingly to its remarkable growth. True, we always knew that in the heat of a scuffle, some articles would be skewed. Who can blame a writer from an occupied state who is less than objective about the occupying country! However, since we all had access, we could edit, correct, and view the article’s history. We still can, of course, but with artificial intelligence, it’s a losing battle, I fear.
Today, I came across, once again, an important and well-sourced article in the Grayzone. Articles in the Grayzone tend to be a bit tedious, as they seek to adhere strictly to the source. They are not colourful, ironic or full of beautiful metaphors. They are simply dull, yet, sometimes extremely interesting. I was sure the Grayzone article satisfied journalistic and even scientific standards, so I gave Wikipedia a new chance. This is what I got by way of an introductory paragraph:
The Grayzone is an American far-left news website and blog founded and edited by American journalist Max Blumenthal. The website, initially founded as The Grayzone Project, was affiliated with AlterNet before becoming independent in early 2018. A fringe website, it is known for misleading reporting and sympathetic coverage of authoritarian regimes The Grayzone has denied human rights abuses against Uyghurs, promulgated conspiracy theories about Venezuela, Xinjiang, Syria and other regions, and promoted pro-Russian propaganda during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Grayzone has been described by Commentary as a propaganda shop devoted to pushing pro-Assad, pro-Maduro, pro-Putin, and pro-Hamas narratives. [My highlights.]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grayzone (as at 17 May 2023)
Wow! Kill, kill, kill. Is it really no longer possible to simply disagree with content? Does it have to be savaged?
Wkipedia appears to be rapidly descending into an artificial intelligence Hades from which there will probably be no return, unless the damage done is the work of diligent cancelist humans.
On the other hand, GPT chatbot is basically the child of Silicon Valley, which is basically affiliated with the Democratic Party establishment. So whether the automatons at work are digital or human, the ongoing editing of Wikipedia appears to bear the imprint of cancelist Dems.