Thought it might be interesting to get GPT-2 to generate an essay on censorship and free speech. I did this a few months ago where I used GPT-2 to
write an an essay attempting to answer the question Does AI pose an existential threat to
. I took the same approach again here, I generated around a dozen essays and took the best parts from each to form this longer essay.
Yes I did cherry pick the arguments a little bit but most of what it generated was against widespread censorship. Also, the very last paragraph was
written by me. There is also one other sentence I added to fill out another paragraph, see if you can tell which sentence it is. The italic text at
the start is the prompt I used, the rest of the text was generated by the GPT-2 AI.
When the internet first arose it was a wild west with very little regulation or moderation. Several decades later, many people now claim that free
speech is being destroyed via over-moderation of user generated content on social media platforms. Proponents of this growing censorship and
suppression of free speech argue it is necessary to combat disinformation and "fake news". This essay will examine the rationality and morality of
in the online world and the moral foundations of free speech in the context of the internet.
The online environment is a world of social media and social networking. The internet has replaced the print and broadcast media in many communities
and made it easier to organize, communicate, and make connections. There are thousands of social media and blogging platforms out there, each with
their own rules and policies. Because the information on social media sites and blogs is usually free and readily accessible to all, this often makes
it difficult to distinguish between legitimate information and disinformation.
The internet is often referred to as a "viral medium". This term has had some resonance because it describes the ways in which an internet-based
social network is able to spread information far and wide. This can include both spam in the form of links, false and sometimes harmful claims online,
propaganda by state-sponsored intelligence agencies, and even illegal or unethical conduct. Over the past few years, the mainstream media has become
increasingly concerned about the spread of propaganda through social media networks.
Is Collective Censorship Effective?
Collective censorship occurs when a larger group, for example a corporation or group of people, agrees to collectively regulate some area of speech or
conduct for general "public good" reasons. Collective censorship is often viewed as a rational response by groups to collective problems. It can
protect the public from the dangers of misinformation, such as terrorism, crime, and poverty. Many people are less capable of making informed
decisions after being manipulated to believe a particular propaganda narrative.
While such social dynamics tend to favor collective liberty and have a positive effect on the economy and well-being, they often can be detrimental to
individual liberty. Many people claim that censorship is a good thing and that it creates a more respectful society and a more civil society. Critics
argue that this concept of censorship is flawed, and that censorship is actually harmful to society. It is important to note that as a moral
principle, "If you're happy that somebody is controlling how you think, then they are free to control how you think."
Critics argue that online censorship actually serves to decrease truth. A study by Harvard sociologist Gregory Clark shows that censorship actually
increases the level of ignorance in the society. He demonstrates that if people are forced to view only authoritative sources of news, they will be
more apt to believe falsehoods. It works fine in the short term, however, when information isn't available in the first place, it actually harms
society. It causes people to disregard the truth at the least, or to not trust the media and seek less reliable sources.
Groups are more likely to acquiesce in censorship when their interests are aligned with a larger group of people. A case in point was the Spanish
Inquisition. The Catholic Church's goal was to preserve Spain, and control Spain's social and political structures. When the Church attempted to
enforce restrictions on the free speech and free assembly of Spanish citizens, it faced an uprising. In the end, one of the most prominent bishops of
the Catholic Church, Francisco de Vitoria, was murdered by an order of the Inquisition.
A Brief History of Fake News and the Propaganda Model
The history of fake news goes back to before the emergence of internet and the digital age. In the early 20th century, journalists in the United
States and Europe were regularly accused of being paid propagandists for fascist governments. In the 20th century, various groups and individuals
created fake news, including the Russian government, the Mafia, and the CIA. Most of the fake news that we have heard about over the last decade was
produced by a small group of people who created fake social media accounts, made fake news videos, and created fake press releases in an attempt to
discredit various political or religious figures while they were in power.
In the 1990s, there was a decline in this fake news propaganda. The internet made it possible for the creation of fake news, however, and fake news
started to be seen as a threat to the public interest. In 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was created as an
industry agency to regulate information distribution on the electronic networks. As the internet grew, public interest in fake news changed
dramatically. Politicians, activists, and other interested parties began to lobby for ICANN to create a regulatory body to address fake news and to
protect the public from misinformation.
ICANN uses a three-tiered system in which the authority is in the United States with control over the internet in the US (the internet registrars in
Canada, England and France, and the global internet infrastructure organization in India) and in the developing world with control in the developing
countries that cannot afford a full-blown government. In the US, ICANN's primary authority is the Commerce Department's Internet Advisory Committee
(ICANN-IAC). ICANN-IAC has been given the responsibility of regulating the internet since 2001 by executive order.
There is an interesting irony in the fact that the main actors that created fake news during the 20th century now seek to defend the same people who
created fake news during the 21st century. As part of the ICANN process, the industry group created the Propaganda Model. In the model, a group of
organizations and individuals who work in a specific area, such as advertising and communications, are responsible for establishing and maintaining
information strategies that inform public opinion. Propaganda strategies should promote a narrative that promotes a preferred ideology or political
point of view.