The internet political/social media space is a mess of conspiracy theories, crime and propaganda. Climate change is gathering pace in an ever more threatening scenario of global breakdown. The two issues are closely related.
Now let’s look at how hate speech, marketing infiltration and political interference driven corruption of the public space across multiple platforms can provide a mirror image. This could be an AI enhanced global ethics checking protocol enabling users to regain confidence in information and engage with global climate change initiatives. News and information verification protocols across platforms would protect the public political space and could directly promote transformational changes that are needed to combat climate change.
Reformed protocols would allow the internet and the current crises faced on a global level to interact using new AI capabilities entering the space now. This would require levels of authentication of information, levels of verification of sources, rules against hate speech and rules against political and commercially motivated interference in the all-important global public space. Climate change science should have a huge space of its own to work with high global public visibility, instead of being forced into corners by the obscenely profitable oil, gas and coal lobbies.
Why has the global internet public space been trashed? The value of privacy has been upheld, barely, as the interests of commerce and governments collide – governments are obsessed with spying on their own citizens in order for a particular regime to remain stable, but commerce demands privacy of business communications. Somehow, ordinary citizens have managed to hold the line to an extent on the issue of privacy of communications. But the efficacy of this right in democratic terms has been eroded by deliberate political subversion practices that though sophisticated, should never have been allowed to take root in global public spaces. The issue of authentication of information has seen the most tragic subversion of the on-line political conversation. Authentication of information has been aligned with power, not truth. The most extreme examples of this multiplied manipulation of platforms and information can be seen in the authoritarian regimes of Russia and China. Russia has dissected the relationship between information and its people, and literally created an online news environment that is centred on political interests, in direct opposition to traditional news values of verified factual information and balance of competing views on that information. Look at the result. A horrific invasion of a neighbour, Ukraine, while the brave (well informed) few who resist in Russia are jailed. The world is left face to face with a nuclear power led by war criminals who have neatly disconnected themselves from political accountability. On our watch.
Yet, is the “West” really much better? Sure, climate change scientists are allowed to protest and give warnings about our horrific planetary future, now becoming our daily reality. However, those same scientists are portrayed almost as crazies by politicians and commercial leaders who are enthralled by the money, power and lobbying reach of the fossil fuel interests. Ordinary citizens cannot be expected to navigate through bias, diversions, and public relations spin to find the truth of what is going on. Ordinary citizens expect their leaders to lead in the best interests of their own people. When they see that isn’t happening, they check out, or follow unconscionable breadcrumb trails to conspiracy theorists, or populists who use issues of race and crime to direct anger. Even democracy itself has been timidly deemed to be an optional extra, arguably a natural result of witnessing a dumbed down polity drowning in a sea of disinformation.
The West needs to return power, legitimacy and reach to news sources with democratically tested values, that is, verified information, news gathering by trained journalists without censorship both overt and subtle, and a return to a mission to inform, educate, entertain – armed with a new mission to repair the world of climate change that we all live in. It is not too late for a reallocation of resources. Chief Twit Elon Musk could move now to highlight climate change initiatives on Twitter pages. It is essential to put climate change at the top of the public space protocols, because climate change science is based on verified facts and an almost inevitable existential threat, unfortunately ahead at this time of the usual suspects of nuclear war, water distribution, and pandemics.
What we do about it should be a discussion of the huge changes to our commercial structures that are needed, plus changes to political activities. Being out of control hasn’t worked. How do we assert controls that will create the conditions where we have a chance to shape a global future that rescues us from the worst effects of climate change? We need online Planet Protocols to produce
The internet is more valuable than ever. It has always been our best tool, and we now need to pay and keep paying for the essential upgrades to create a functional global political space. It isn’t just the best option, it is the only option to create the level of global political movement and commitment we now need to survive into the future.