Pesto gets pas­sion­ate

The Week Middle East - - News -

Robert Pe­ston is try­ing not to emote in pub­lic, says Celia Walden in The Daily Tele­graph. ITV News’s po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor has 881,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers, and they love it best when he dis­penses with jour­nal­is­tic bal­ance and shows some pas­sion. Af­ter the Gren­fell Tower fire, for ex­am­ple, he posted a se­ries of fu­ri­ous tweets about how the tragedy “shames us all”. Af­ter­wards, strangers kept stop­ping to con­grat­u­late him on what he had said. Pe­ston was flat­tered – and that, he says, is pre­cisely the prob­lem. “Be­cause all the pieces that get peo­ple go­ing now are about emo­tion rather than facts or ar­gu­ment. So the things on so­cial me­dia that have got me gazil­lions of hits are al­ways the ones where I’m ba­si­cally cry­ing in pub­lic. Thank­fully, I’m a very bor­ing jour­nal­ist and my in­stincts are al­ways to take my­self back to the facts, but when you see that many peo­ple ‘lik­ing’ you on the ba­sis of some­thing that’s emo­tional, it’s se­duc­tive and it’s cor­rupt­ing.” Max Teg­mark is do­ing his best to save the hu­man race, says Oliver Moody in The Times. The Swedish sci­en­tist has set up the Fu­ture of Life In­sti­tute, funded in part by tech bil­lion­aire Elon Musk, which aims to pre­vent ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) de­stroy­ing civil­i­sa­tion. Com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Google, Face­book and IBM are already de­vel­op­ing a form of sil­i­con mind that is as creative as the hu­man brain, but faster, less eas­ily dis­tracted and en­tirely alien in its thought pro­cesses. This AI rev­o­lu­tion could end poverty and cure can­cer – or it could cause mass un­em­ploy­ment, de­stroy democ­racy and en­slave the hu­man race. “Most peo­ple are in de­nial that anything will change,” he says. “[But] you can’t have this kind of tech­nol­ogy with­out chang­ing what it means to be hu­man.” For ex­am­ple, “we’re already in sight of com­put­ers be­ing able to make a video of Theresa May speak­ing which would be in­dis­tin­guish­able from a real video of her,” says Teg­mark. De­stroy­ing a per­son’s char­ac­ter in pub­lic – by re­leas­ing, say, a fake sex tape or false con­fes­sion – will soon be the eas­i­est trick in the book. “We talk a lot about how easy it is to hack com­put­ers, but it’s also easy to hack hu­mans with cheap psy­cho­log­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion, as any ma­gi­cian or sales­per­son knows. You should never un­der­es­ti­mate how easy it will be for in­tel­li­gent ma­chines to trick us.”

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