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#14 "AdTech is a PsyOp" and "Belief, Persuasion, Lies and AI"


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Sara-Jayne Terp on “Belief, Persuasion, Lies and AI”

Sara-Jayne(@bodaceacat) covers the nature of belief. She discusses what it means to believe something: when accuracy does and doesn’t matter, and why strongly held belief is a better concept to aim at that the truth. The discussion revolves around the idea that pushes technologists to think more about how machine-based belief systems and human belief systems work with similarities and how can we use this knowledge to persuade and change hearts and minds.

From the first part of her talk:

There are many definitions of belief, and many interpretations of those definitions. For this talk, I looked primarily at three old definitions: doxa, faith-based division of ‘facts’ into ‘true’ or ‘false’ (doxa is the root word of ‘orthodoxy’); pistis, which is more nuanced, and allows for evidence and different degrees of confidence (pistis is the root word of epistemology), and normative belief: what you think other people expect you to believe. Each of these exist in both humans and systems, and each can be manipulated (albeit often in different ways).

How can we change minds? What is the nature of beliefs and what are the parallels of machines and human belief systems? And what can we learn from them?

David Carroll on “AdTech is a PsyOp”

From David Carroll’s (@profcarroll) Confronting a Nightmare for Democracy:

“In the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum and US presidential election, much has been written about how personal data was used to target voters with advertisements and other messages over social media. We’ve since learned that actors both foreign and domestic employed information operations, computational propaganda, and cyberattacks weaponizing our commercial media infrastructure…”

“… These were legally acquired as a function of working on the Cruz and Trump campaigns. Informed in part by information derived from Facebook and then enriched with commercial data through brokers, our voter dossiers were sold to the Trump campaign. Controversy surrounds the donation of SCL’s “election management” services for Brexit.”

The rest was history.

With the advent of data mining, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, we see the other side of technology. Our privacy and autonomy jeopardized by the very thing we use to empower our communities – technology.

How bad is it? To what end has this technology reached? What should, what can, we do now? What are our defenses against this, and how are Illinois and the European Union dealing with this, and how can we do what they are doing?


Join us in an in-depth discussion on Belief Systems adn Advertising Technology on Tuesday, September 26 2017, 6:30pm, at ThoughtWorks NYC. Sara-Jayne Terp and David Carroll will show us how belief systems and persuasions work, and howdata which predicts how we think and act is now slowly – if not completely – merging with our voter files.


About Progressive Hacknight

We’re all about making great ideas happen.

Progressive HackNight is a bi-weekly gathering of coders and creatives, makers and doers, to foment and inspire action. We use our collective talents and abilities to push forward pro-social change in benefit of the common good.

An intersection of technology and activism. A physical space for progressive activists, organizers, data wranglers, ux/ui designers, and coders to come together, discuss the issues, and work on projects together that will drive the movement forward. This event is open to technologists, organizers, data enthusiasts, ux/ui, creatives, project managers, product managers, coders, etc, of all backgrounds/experiences.


Civic hacking

After the presentation, we will break out into discussion and working groups until 10:30pm.

Please bring your laptops!


Agenda and meeting notes
Breakout groups
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"AdTech is a PsyOp" and "Belief, Persuasion, Lies and AI"

6:30p
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

ThoughtWorks NYC
99 Madison Ave
15th Floor

New York, NY

Enter 99 Madison Avenue and take the elevator to the 15th floor.