Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Annals of Artificial Intelligence


Friendly robots via Vector Stock.

If you can't think of anything nice to say, ask ChatGPT:

Me: Please summarize Jeff Gerth's article on "The Press Versus the President" in Columbia Journalism Review.
Bot: Jeff Gerth's article "The Press Versus the President" in Columbia Journalism Review examines the strained relationship between the media and former President Donald Trump. Gerth argues that Trump's presidency has highlighted the need for journalists to be persistent, vigilant, and independent in their reporting.
Gerth notes that Trump's attacks on the media have been a constant feature of his presidency, with the president regularly referring to the press as "fake news" and "the enemy of the people." Gerth argues that these attacks are part of a broader strategy to undermine the credibility of the media and to control the narrative of his presidency.
Despite these attacks, Gerth contends that the media has largely risen to the challenge of covering Trump's presidency, producing a steady stream of investigative reporting that has uncovered numerous scandals and abuses of power. Gerth argues that this reporting has been essential in holding Trump accountable and in ensuring that the public is informed about the actions of their government.
Gerth also notes that the media has faced significant challenges in covering Trump's presidency, including the president's tendency to lie and to manipulate the truth. Gerth argues that journalists must be vigilant in fact-checking Trump's statements and in holding him accountable when he makes false or misleading claims.
Overall, Gerth's article emphasizes the important role that the media plays in a democratic society, particularly in holding those in power accountable. While Trump's attacks on the media have been a significant challenge, Gerth argues that the media has largely risen to the occasion, producing reporting that is essential for a well-informed citizenry.

Actually Gerth does not argue that Trump's attacks on "fake news" and the "enemy of the people" are part of a strategy to accomplish anything: he argues that Trump is justified by the misconduct of the journalists, who, far from blaming Trump, have no one to blame but themselves for the public's mistrust:

The two most inflammatory, and enduring, slogans commandeered by Trump in this conflict were “fake news” and the news media as “the enemy of the American people.” They both grew out of stories in the first weeks of 2017 about Trump and Russia that wound up being significantly flawed or based on uncorroborated or debunked information, according to FBI documents that later became public. Both relied on anonymous sources.... 

In 2021, 83 percent of Americans saw “fake news” as a “problem,” and 56 percent—mostly Republicans and independents—agreed that the media were “truly the enemy of the American people,” according to Rasmussen Reports.

He doesn't think it's fair to accuse Trump of lying so much as offering a "disruptive" and "hyperbolic version of the truth" which the press shouldn't have taken so seriously—Trump was just "toying" with them. "Why so serious?" as the Joker said.

At its root was an undeclared war between an entrenched media, and a new kind of disruptive presidency, with its own hyperbolic version of the truth. (The Washington Post has tracked thousands of Trump’s false or misleading statements.) At times, Trump seemed almost to be toying with the press, offering spontaneous answers to questions about Russia that seemed to point to darker narratives. When those storylines were authoritatively undercut, the follow-ups were downplayed or ignored.

Instead of seeing "a stream of investigative reporting that has uncovered numerous scandals and abuses of power" but complained that they had done an extremely poor job, oddly quoting Bob Woodward (who has himself broken a lifelong habit of refusing to take sides to issue passionate warnings agaisnt the former guy's  heedlessness and dishonesty):

news outlets and watchdogs haven’t been as forthright in examining their own Trump-Russia coverage, which includes serious flaws. Bob Woodward, of the Post, told me that news coverage of the Russia inquiry ” wasn’t handled well” and that he thought viewers and readers had been “cheated.” He urged newsrooms to “walk down the painful road of introspection.”

It's a great example of the lack of intelligence of artificial intelligence—it can discover the existence of Gerth's articles and some details about what the subject matter was, but it seems to be programmed not to find out what the articles said, but rather to construct a bien-pensant moderate view of what a bien-pensant moderate person would have written, under the assumption that no respectable person could have done anything different, so it wasn't really necessary to find out. It's unable to imagine criticism, and it's unable to criticize. What it comes up with here is a complete fantasy—something like what David Brooks might have written about the piece, under the understanding that everybody's basically pretty nice but Trump is kind of odd. Don't let your kids use it.

On the other hand, this thing from Google Translate in response to a piece of Chinese text I was trying to process that turned out to be nonsense, clearly not what I was looking for but pure Google garbage of the kind you often find iin English toward the end of a search, possibly attached to some porn, but with no independent meaning at all—a hodgepodge of extremely unusual characters like 釄 (cǎi, wine brewed for the second time), 籸 (shēn, the residue of oil making) or 韷 (for which Wiktionary offers no meaning at all, in Chinese or Japanese) and peculiar repetitions with no actual syntax—The program came up with an English text that completely irrelevant and rather irritated-sounding, and at the same time avant-garde; I really enjoyed it and wanted to share it with somebody:

-The main objective of this project is to create a new set of basic principles for the development of the city. Please see the English version of this article for more information about the English language. If you don't know what you're doing, you can't see the difference between the old and the new, and if you don't know what you're doing, you can see the difference between the old and the new, and if you don't know what you're doing, you can see the difference between the old and the new. -The most common types of objects are the Sambodrome, the English, and the Japanese. -The air quality of the airspace in Princeton is very different from that of other countries.

The Chinese text ia below, for anybody who wants to try to get something out of it. It definitely doesn't include words for "English", "Japanese", or "Princeton", and I'm pretty sure there's no "Sambodrome" either.

摖 覍5


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