Month: February 2021

Right and left, partisanship predicts (asymmetric) vulnerability to misinformation

We analyze the relationship between partisanship, echo chambers, and vulnerability to online misinformation by studying news sharing behavior on Twitter. While our results confirm prior findings that online misinformation sharing is strongly correlated with right-leaning partisanship, we also uncover a similar, though weaker, trend among left-leaning users. Because of the correlation between a user’s partisanship and their position within a partisan echo chamber, these types of influence are confounded. To disentangle their effects, we performed a regression analysis and found that vulnerability to misinformation is most strongly influenced by partisanship for both left- and right-leaning users.

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Complexity and the Social World: building on the legacy of Allen, Byrne, Stacey and Cilliers

Online event 3rd March 2021, 12.30-14.00 GMT

Complexity theory took off in the 1990s and four of the key people who shaped how these ideas were developed for application to the social world will be represented in this event. In this unique retrospective, we will explore how these four thinkers approached complexity thinking over long careers.

Invited Speakers

Peter Allen – Embracing Complexity
David Byrne – Complexity and the Social Sciences
Chris Mowles in the legacy of Ralph Stacey – Complex Responsive Processes
Rika Preiser in the legacy of Paul Cilliers – Complexity and Postmodernism
The discussion will be hosted by Jean Boulton

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Be it resolved: The quest for true AI is one of the great existential risks of our time – Munk Debates Podcast 

A novel written by artificial intelligence is shortlisted for a literary prize. Google software beats a human opponent at Go, one of the most complex board games in the world. Self-driving cars recognize images and then make decisions. These are just some of the extraordinary accomplishments based on artificial intelligence that we have witnessed in the past few years. But there are many scientists who are pushing for a more cautious approach to how we move forward on machine intelligence. They say that we are not far off from developing superintelligent machines whose IQ far surpasses that of humans and who don’t come with an off switch — with seriously negative consequences for humanity. These scientists argue that we can prevent this loss of control but we need to act now by making sure algorithms ensure that benevolence and human mastery are foundational pillars. Critics say that this view of superintelligence highly overrates the abilities of machines today and in the future, and deeply underestimates the incredible powers of human thinking. They say that AI is nowhere close to matching the human talent for understanding and generalization — and may never come close. Unsubstantiated fears of a superintelligent future are getting in the way of resolving one of the riddles of human existence – human intelligence – which could unlock untold creativity and progress.

Arguing for the motion is Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science and Smith-Zadeh Professor in Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, and Honorary Fellow, Wadham College, Oxford. He’s the author of Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control.

Arguing against the motion is Melanie Mitchell, Davis Professor of Complexity at the Santa Fe Institute. She is the author of Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans.

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Cognitive reflection correlates with behavior on Twitter

Mohsen Mosleh, Gordon Pennycook, Antonio A. Arechar & David G. Rand
Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 921 (2021)

We investigate the relationship between individual differences in cognitive reflection and behavior on the social media platform Twitter, using a convenience sample of N = 1,901 individuals from Prolific. We find that people who score higher on the Cognitive Reflection Test—a widely used measure of reflective thinking—were more discerning in their social media use, as evidenced by the types and number of accounts followed, and by the reliability of the news sources they shared. Furthermore, a network analysis indicates that the phenomenon of echo chambers, in which discourse is more likely with like-minded others, is not limited to politics: people who scored lower in cognitive reflection tended to follow a set of accounts which are avoided by people who scored higher in cognitive reflection. Our results help to illuminate the drivers of behavior on social media platforms and challenge intuitionist notions that reflective thinking is unimportant for everyday judgment and decision-making. Performance on a cognitive reflection test correlates with a wide range of behaviours in survey studies. Here the authors investigate the relationship between cognitive reflection and some aspects of actual behaviour on social media.

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