Freedom and Truth in an Age of Deception

Nov 20, 2023 by

By Itxu Díaz, European Conservative.

We live in fear of AI taking our jobs, replacing us in relationships, or even developing horrible robots that could devour the world. But long before any of that happens, we must face a different threat: technology’s ability to manipulate our emotions.

You too have seen fake photographs and videos retouched with advanced digital tools, or listened to speeches by famous politicians with voices and mannerisms indistinguishable from reality, all generated by AI. We live surrounded by tremendous lies and manipulation. The tactics of technological guerrilla warfare are designed not so much as to make you believe their lies, but rather to tint everything else with a shadow of suspicion, so as to make the truth indistinguishable from the lies. This is how we bury our freedom.

In recent days, in the context of the Gaza conflict, we have seen scores of contradictory reports, each of them appealing to our most primitive emotions, to the point that the truth has become a minor consideration compared to the indignation, compassion, or hatred that the images arouse in us. Astonished, we witness reports from prestigious Western news outlets, ones with solid style guides and best practices, taking information from the terrorist group Hamas at face value. This is just the symptom of a much larger and more dangerous issue.

Not so long ago, the word post-truth became fashionable. Post-truth was the umpteenth attempt by agents of cultural relativism to make us believe that there is such a thing as individual ‘truth’ shaped by one’s feelings. Since at least St. Thomas Aquinas, we have known very well that “knowledge is according as the thing known is in the knower,” but the reality we approach is always the same. Truth is, in short, “the equation of thought and thing.”

The truth is that, even if we were to accept the term post-truth, we would still need to talk about a technological post-truth, meaning both how technological interference is used to confuse us and how we allow ourselves to be misled when our feelings are confirmed by the version of the facts that is provided to us. For example, if we see something that leads us to conclusions that contradict what we already believe, we tend to ignore it or dismiss it, lest it conflict with our preconceived notions. However, when our preexisting beliefs are reinforced, we do the opposite. This is not because we are contemptible, but rather because we are human, and thus vulnerable to emotional manipulation.

Read here.

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