Infodemics: with Jeremy Blackburn and Aviv Ovadya

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Personal Blog

Our world is increasingly prone to infodemics. As we become more reliant on the algorithms that govern the informational commons, we become more vulnerable to distortions of reality and discourse. Like biological pandemics, infodemics can be local or global, either engineered or emergent, and hurt the vulnerable more than the powerful. The threat posed by infodemics multiplies other threats, exacerbating barriers to coordination that could impede our ability to solve biorisks, ai risks, and risks from global warfare. Does that mean mitigating the impact of infodemics is a cause area for EAs? Join us as we ask two experts what they think.

Jeremy Blackburn is an assistant professor in the dept of computer science at Binghamton University broadly interested in data science, with a focus on large-scale measurements and modeling. His largest line of work is in understanding jerks on the Internet. His research into understanding toxic behavior, hate speech, and fringe and extremist Web communities has been covered in the press by The Washington Post, the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC and New Scientist, among others.

Aviv Ovadya (@metaviv) is the founder of the Thoughtful Technology Project, a 'responsible tech consultant', and a non-resident fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy. Aviv has been focused on addressing online and AI driven misinformation since before the 2016 US election and his efforts have been covered by major news organizations across five continents. He received his S.B. and M.Eng. degrees in computer science at MIT, and did engineering and product management work with companies in Silicon Valley, before bringing his research to the Center for Social Media Responsibility at the University of Michigan, where he served as the founding Chief Technologist. Aviv was also a founding member of the Credibility Coalition, consulted for Snopes, was a Knight Innovation Fellow at the Tow Center at Columbia University, and was a TED CIVIC summer resident. He has spoken internationally about addressing threats to discourse and democracy, including for TEDx, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has written for Bloomberg, HBR, and the Washington Post.

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