Not Voting Doubles the Value of Someone Else’s Vote

from kottke In his Rolling Stone article on John McCain’s failed campaign for the 2000 Republican nomination for President, David Foster Wallace wrote about how not voting is like shooting yourself in the foot. If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible psychological reason to stay at home doing […]

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‘Fake News’ Is Sparking an AI Arms Race

from Popular Mechanics In 2018 the California-based company FireEye tipped Facebook and Google off to a network of fake social media accounts from Iran that was conducting campaigns to influence people in the United States. In response, Google and Facebook, using backend data to determine that a branch of the Iranian government was responsible, removed dozens of YouTube channels, a score of Google+ accounts and a handful of blogs. Lee Foster, manager of information operations at FireEye, was at the forefront of the firms’ investigation. “Right now, you know something’s automated just by the sheer volume of content pushing out,” […]

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Our Hackable Political Future

from NYTs Imagine it is the spring of 2019. A bottom-feeding website, perhaps tied to Russia, “surfaces” video of a sex scene starring an 18-year-old Kirsten Gillibrand. It is soon debunked as a fake, the product of a user-friendly video application that employs generative adversarial network technology to convincingly swap out one face for another. It is the summer of 2019, and the story, predictably, has stuck around — part talk-show joke, part right-wing talking point. “It’s news,” political journalists say in their own defense. “People are talking about it. How can we not?” Then it is fall. The junior […]

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How Computers Turned Gerrymandering Into a Science

from NYTs About as many Democrats live in Wisconsin as Republicans do. But you wouldn’t know it from the Wisconsin State Assembly, where Republicans hold 65 percent of the seats, a bigger majority than Republican legislators enjoy in conservative states like Texas and Kentucky. The United States Supreme Court is trying to understand how that happened. On Tuesday, the justices heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, reviewing a three-judge panel’s determination that Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn district map is so flagrantly gerrymandered that it denies Wisconsinites their full right to vote. A long list of elected officials, representing both parties, have […]

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Gill v. Whitford: Gerrymandering at the Supreme Court

from Brennan Center With Gill v. Whitford, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken the most important case in decades dealing with how Americans are represented in Congress and state legislatures. The case focuses on a Wisconsin legislative map drawn in 2011 by the state’s Republican leadership to give their party a significant, enduring partisan advantage ? essentially, to keep their party in power regardless of the will of the voters. By striking down the state’s map, the Court could finally draw a clear line indicating that some partisan gerrymanders are so extreme and harmful to American democracy as to be unconstitutional. With […]

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Weapons of Mass Manipulation

from Medium Politics in the days of social networks has gone down some very strange paths. In non-democracies, such as China, the regime devotes more people to the elimination and manipulation of content on social networks than to its huge army: a significant part of the population dedicates its time to replicating the work of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, fabricating an alternative reality for the rest of the population, eliminating anonymous, critical or “unacceptable” comment, inserting praise for the government on forums, networks and newspapers using multiple accounts to simulate widespread support. In Russia, things are pretty much the […]

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Shakespeare Explains the 2016 Election

from NYTs In the early 1590s, Shakespeare sat down to write a play that addressed a problem: How could a great country wind up being governed by a sociopath? The problem was not England’s, where a woman of exceptional intelligence and stamina had been on the throne for more than 30 years, but it had long preoccupied thoughtful people. Why, the Bible brooded, was the kingdom of Judah governed by a succession of disastrous kings? How could the greatest empire in the world, ancient Roman historians asked themselves, have fallen into the hands of a Caligula? For his theatrical test case, Shakespeare […]

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