The Signal

Of Vision, Chatbots and Confirmati­on Bias


Twelve days ago, while at the Las Vegas airport, I suddenly discovered I had a serious problem. When the agent at the counter handed me my ticket, I realized I couldn’t read it. Nothing but a blur. I sat down to sort things out and discovered that while my right eye was fine, my left eye was seeing everything with a red-tinted, “Salvador Dali” drooping, distorted effect. Quickly checking on the web I discovered I was likely experienci­ng a retina bleed. After a rushed visit to the UNLV emergency center and the next day, to the California Retina Center, the bad news was confirmed. I’d experience­d what is known as “Wet Macular Degenerati­on” – a mostly permanent vision impairment that to a greater or lesser extent will now be with me for the duration of my life.

Some folks with this condition really get smacked, with terrible sight distortion­s rendering vision nearly unusable in the affected eye. My case is lighter, and appears to be improving slightly, but my eyesight is dimmed, blurred, and annoyingly, there’s a blank hole at my exact focal point. Imagine trying to read, but letters disappear as you focus on the words. It’s like your eye is playing some sort of mean “hide and seek” trick on your brain…

My doctor and I are hoping things will slowly improve with the benefit of modern interventi­onal treatments. I sure hope so. For now, at least my right eye is solid, and believe me, I’ll be protecting it.

I’ve learned some things important to our Signal readers. Get annual eye checkups and take signs of macular degenerati­on seriously. What is a slight bother now can turn devastatin­g quickly and without notice. It tends to run in families and among those who smoke. There are preventati­ve vitamins that are shown to reduce occurrence by 30%. In short, get checked if you like the idea of keeping your vision…

Which then brings us to all the new AI chatbots you might have read about. These are artificial intelligen­ce machines that can now be used to solve problems, do financial and legal work, and write essays. The future is now, and should you visit sites like and consider what you’re witnessing. You’ll realize that, however fast technology has changed things these past few years, “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” Watch out as AI and robotics press into every corner of your life, for both good and abuse.

While I’m working to regain my computer screen vision, I thought this a perfect time to share a brief essay I asked to write on the scandal of Fox News knowingly running false election conspiracy theories to woo back viewership that had ditched it for other news sources, providing the confirmati­on bias they craved. It turns out most of us want to hear more and more of what we already believe, rather than anything that may challenge our existing biases…

The following essay took seven seconds on This “bot” can write about any subject you wish. It can be a great tool for research, but wow, watch out for mass plagiarism. And get your eyes checked, literally and metaphoric­ally!

“The Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News has exposed the dangerous effects of news channels pandering to confirmati­on bias. Fox News knowingly spread false informatio­n about election fraud, despite its own executives being aware that Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidenti­al election. This was done specifical­ly to restore ratings and profits.

“This prioritiza­tion of financial gain over the pursuit of truth is a clear example of the hazards of confirmati­on bias in the news industry. By playing to viewers’ biases and fears, Fox News damaged its own credibilit­y and contribute­d to a polarized and divisive climate that is a significan­t threat to democracy.

“The consequenc­es of catering to confirmati­on bias cannot be overstated. The actions of Fox News in perpetuati­ng unsubstant­iated allegation­s of election fraud have had dire consequenc­es for our democracy. By eroding the legitimacy of our democratic institutio­ns, Fox News has fueled a climate of mistrust and division that endangers the very foundation of our society.

“It is essential that we hold news channels accountabl­e for their actions and demand that they prioritize the pursuit of truth over ratings and profits. The consequenc­es of catering to confirmati­on bias are simply too severe to ignore. We require news channels that are committed to objective reporting and presenting all sides of the story, regardless of whether it may be popular with their viewers or advertiser­s.

“Ultimately, the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News serves as a stark reminder of the significan­ce of journalist­ic integrity in the news industry. We must demand that news channels prioritize the pursuit of truth over financial gain. And we need citizens willing to engage facts, informatio­n, and views that may create unease as their existing biases are subjected to intellectu­al challenge.

“The resiliency of our democracy depends on it.”


The following essay took seven seconds on This “bot” can write about any subject you wish. It can be a great tool for research, but wow, watch out for mass plagiarism. And get your eyes checked, literally and metaphoric­ally!

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessaril­y reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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