User:LGreg/sandbox/Approaches to Knowledge (LG seminar)/Group 1/Truth/Technology and truth

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Technology and truth[edit | edit source]

This section briefly touches upon the impact of technology on today's concept of truth.

A more objective truth?[edit | edit source]

With the rise of new technologies, such as DNA scanning and security cameras, uncovering the truth is now supposedly easier than ever. The variety of techniques proving and disproving evidence could allow us to progress more easily to the most objective form of truth possible, removing any form of human bias or error. For example, law enforcement can now employ a new form of DNA scanning in order to rapidly match it with the DNA of people stored on databases, therby vastly reducing the uncertainty of whether an accused criminal is guilty or not.[1]

More powerful tools of truth[edit | edit source]

Thanks to technological advancements, many theories that used to be speculative in the domain of science are now able to be tested out in real life and confirm the validity of this truth. In physics for instance, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO)[2] in the United states have recently confirmed the existence of gravitational waves - concretely providing objective evidence to support the truth of the theory. This is an example where the advancements in engineering and technology allowed truth to become empirical and objective in the domain of science, as we are now able to verify results more accurately.

The rise of social media[edit | edit source]

Nowadays, however, technology has also brought in disadvantages along with its benefits, with social media being the prime example of it: online platforms such as Facebook are a convenient way of staying updated on the news around the globe, but can also amplify the propagation of "fake news". Algorithms which decide of which content to display place a priority on the engagement the audience would experience[3], rather than the veracity of the claims or the relevance of the content. As a result, we are likely to encounter information with little evidence to back it up, in contrast to the usual emphasis placed on positivist truth by traditional news outlets. Furthermore, the exponential increase in fake news has also led to a growing suspicion towards all forms of news in general. People rely on their own version of the truth, dubbing anything which does not conform to their beliefs as false and thus distorting the importance we place on truth in the media.[4]

Truth in journalism: The "Gilet Jaune" movement in France[edit | edit source]

In the autumn of 2018, many protests emerged throughout France in an attempt to oppose the new tax set to increase the price of diesel and petrol, which was advocated by the French president Emmanuel Macron as a way to decrease the country's carbon footprint. Many of these protesters were lower-class, grassroot citizens, and they identified themselves by wearing fluorescent yellow vests, hence the name "gilet jaune". The notable aspect of this movement is that it had no official leader or schedule. Instead, it sprang up on social media, with various communities creating polls, discussions and pages which fueled the protests. [5] Through social media, the initial movement gained incredible momentum and became an international phenomenon.

However, the fact that the events were reported not only by journalists but also by everyday citizens through social media led to bias in truth and the way people perceived each opposing side. Facebook for instance was the breeding ground for many anti-Macron propaganda pages, and videos depicting police violence also strongly influenced the negative view associated with police forces at that time. Although it became clear later on that the violence was double-sided, the popularity of these videos led to a strong anti-government feeling.

In addition, misinformation is also a large issue in a protest of this amplitude. social media have also allowed rumours to flourish, for example that Emmanuel Macron would sell France's sovereignty to the UN. This type of information distorts the truth and reality of the situation, making it increasingly difficult to find one's way to an objective and unbiased version of truth.[6]