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“Are You Really the Product?” Will Oremus asks on Slate, and hints at his answer with the subtitle for his piece: “The history of a dangerous idea.” …


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“The world is moving apart in trust. In previous years, market-level trust has moved largely in lockstep, but for the first time ever there is now a distinct split between extreme trust gainers and losers. No market saw steeper declines than the United States, with a 37-point aggregate drop in trust across all institutions. At the opposite end of the spectrum, China experienced a 27-point gain, more than any other market.” 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer

We must renew trust in our institutions!

I spoke a few months ago with Philip Howard, the head of the Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute. In the course of our conversation about the use of bots and fake social media profiles to game Facebook’s algorithms in order to influence the US election, I asked him whether the US intelligence agencies were asleep about the possibilities of the Internet to spread micro-targeted disinformation.

Not all, he replied. They were well aware of the techniques the Russians had used, and even had used them themselves against other countries. They just never imagined, he said, that they would be turned on the US. They were the kind of thing that were used against banana republics, with corrupt institutions and low trust in government. …


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Cropped image from the Jefferson Memorial by Rian Castillo on Flickr

There’s a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton in which Thomas Jefferson, who has been away as ambassador to France after the American Revolution, comes home and sings, “What’d I miss?”

We all have “What’d I miss?” moments, and authors of books most of all. …

About

Tim O'Reilly

Founder and CEO, O'Reilly Media. Watching the alpha geeks, sharing their stories, helping the future unfold.

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