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    Is it ‘Truthy?’ Government-Funded Database to Track Online Opinions, Memes

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    The US federal government spent $1 million for the creation of an online database to collect “suspicious” memes and track “misinformation.” But who decides what lacks or projects “truthiness?”

    The project, known as the “Truthy Database,” is funded by the National Science Foundation and the assembly, promotion and usability of the database appears to havesignificant political motivations and, and such, users are advised to be wary.

    Ostensibly, the database is designed to further understanding on how misinformation spreads on the web, particularly through memes and jokes shared on social media. 

    A team of government-funded researchers will accordingly attempt to decide what forms of political and social expression are thought to be true, versus what are said to be false.

    The ironic name of the project comes from a term coined, but not patented, by Stephen Colbert, a US political satirist and comedian who often referred to “truthiness,” as a definition of an ability to intuit or merely “feel” whether a fact was authentic. 

    The grant proposal that obtained the funding for the Truthy Database specifically detailed that it would available for “public monitoring.”

    “The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly. Our data will be made available via APIs [application programming interfaces] and include information on meme propagation networks, statistical data, and relevant user and content features. The open-source platform we develop will be made publicly available and will be extensible to ever more research areas as a greater preponderance of human activities are replicated online. Additionally, we will create a web service open to the public for monitoring trends, bursts, and suspicious memes. This service could mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate,” according to the grant statement.

    The open-source database has yet to go online. 

    The project website suggests that memes play an important role in disseminating information and are therefore worthy of further research, particularly in terms of establishing origin. 

    “While the vast majority of memes arise in a perfectly organic manner, driven by the complex mechanisms of life on the Web, some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns,” the website stated, noting also that sophisticated branding techniques by corporate marketing entities constantly attempt to steer the popular online conversation toward their client’s products.

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    online propaganda, surveillance, National Science Foundation, Stephen Colbert
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    • A = π r 2
      what if paranoid parrot was right all along?
    • avatar
      michael
      this from the us government...why? This would only show what disinformation has taken hold and what hasn't. This is nothing to do with truth.
    • Baybars
      Right. They are going to save us from the evil marketers of Viagra and penny stocks. It is a witch hunt, an inquisition funded by tax payer dollars.

      Does this mean the writings of Graham Hancock, Robert Schoch or Immanuel Velikovsy are to be outlawed because they offer alternatives to the 'theories' main stream science tell us are 'fact'? Does this mean that SPUTNIK and its commenters will be considered 'hostile' and tracked on-line and off?

      I suppose those of us who promote alternatives to the often illogical theories that form the basis of our social and scientific belief systems should make sure our research is in order. We must be prepared to back up our stance with what documented history, science and research is still available to us.

      Good luck to all and long live Palestine!
    • supportin reply toA = π r 2(Show commentHide comment)
      ultravi01et, then perhaps paranoid parrot will be the next US president.

      IMO respecting any form of Western technological, social and intellectual progress, it was "game over" in 1922 when Whitehead and Russell published and won multiple awards for crafting Principia Mathematica which work accomplished three things in as many volumes:

      1. Established that all mathematical expressions can be expressed linguistically and vice versa;
      2. Established simple and verifiable methods for expressing concrete truth validation criteria across the full spectrum of expression to include within the framework of law, language and mathematical propositions as well as on a metamathematical basis; and finally
      3. Proved out that metamathematics--the framework within which geometric, epistemological, mathematical and semantic logic systems--was possessed of its own geometry of multiplicative volumes, not point-to-point as in standard geometrical systems--but was one-dimensional and time-independent thus bringing our framework of cognition into line with that of anyone who works with winding and designing electromagnets for a living such as (for instance) the staff at the Latvian Magnetohydrodynamic Institute.

      At the same time Russell's and Whitehead's work was awarded (though the critical Volume Four was not completed until 1999 by Givant who worked with Tarski on that project) every conceivable honour, it also was completely rejected for practical use except by the good folks at Bletchley Park for the duration of the Second World War following which its practical tool for deployment, the analog computer, was relegated to the dustbin of History. To this day the calculations associated with the geometry of multiplicative volumes are still done by hand with a piece of chalk on a chalkboard with legions of checkers and quality control clerks at such places as the Perimeter Institute, the Latvian MHD Institute and all other places worldwide by such great minds as Rachel Rosen, Lee Smolin and others.

      Semantic logic and the Semantic Web --also called Web 3.0)--is what Russell and Whitehead sorted out and yet as everything we do now is tied to digital tools incapable of evaluating or even framing complex simultanieties and thus drawing coherent and verifiable lines of cause-and-effect in Nature, such silly projects as this shall continue to be framed without reference to any nor all standard truth validation criteria capable of being proofed.

      so who is working on analog computers if this knowledge is so valuable as to forced scientists to tell monstrous lies simply to dodge having to deal with the problem?

      www.analog.com

      Hughes Medical Institute (and have been working on it sub rosa since the 1980's and of which the old Saturn computer was an adjunct kiddie-toy level military undertaking)

      ...and I would not be surprised if Lee Smolin did not devote half his day to screaming futilely into his telephone at the US National Science Foundation for funds to build such a monster.

      The great Professor Herman Branover, a very proud Russian, American and faith-based scientist who was awarded a medal by President Putin and for whom I had the honour to work briefly also explored the unsullied Universe of semantic logic as well, again with chalkboard and chalk like everyone else.

      At some point the InterNet world will have no choice but to explore this realm of knowledge as it has been forecast by all three key operators of the InterNet that owing to the very problems described above the Net will one day crash without warning.
    • Baybarsin reply tosupport(Show commentHide comment)
      support, that is fascinating reading. Thank you for posting it.
    • A = π r 2in reply tosupport(Show commentHide comment)
      support, I agree with Baybars. great post.
    • supportin reply toBaybars(Show commentHide comment)
      Baybars and ultravi0let, thanks very much for your kudos.

      I have been working on a manuscript in the same way Kafka worked on his writings (just notating observations empirically from my various workplaces over the years) called Perception Versus Intent: Where Science Lost Its Way, since 2004. The above is a very brief summary of the least hilarious revelations of the many which I have compiled over the years.

      I plan on launching it on KindleBooks by early 2017. It just seems to me that not enough is being written about what we do not know while at the same time the reality needs to be driven home again as was needed during the epoch of the 19th century's fin de siecle that scientists work for engineers and constructors, not the other way around. Science has lost the humility to say "We don't know" for fear of losing their government grants yet in the process the best & brightest are turning their backs on what they see of science & engineering as just another mindless bureaucracy chanting secular "holy scripture." People forget that Bergson was a mining engineer and that Einstein's dad's company built almost every hydroelectric powerplant in Italy and Switzerland, many of which still are operational as I write this.

      I am not up to Isaac Asimov's ankles but no one seems to be writing those types of books anymore except American media/government flunkies who you could not leave alone with a large dog or small child for ten minutes.
    • Baybarsin reply tosupport(Show commentHide comment)
      support, Science and engineering are not paid to admit there are things left unknown, they are paid to find ways of employing what we know and re-enforcing the belief that long held theories are indeed factual.

      Your book topic sounds interesting and appropriate for today. Might I suggest that a big, big reason for the shift in 'mind-set' are the universities and schools that churn out scientists, geologists, doctors and engineers like the business they are. The following anecdote may be a bit off of your topic but it immediately came to mind while I was reading your feedback:

      In the Universities of Canada (perhaps elsewhere as well) the graduates are told they are the 'top of the heap' and that they 'form the future of humanity', etc. etc. When these young (not always) men and women hit the real world in a refinery/chemical plant/laboratory/fabrication facility (you get the idea), they believe themselves to be infallible and worth top dollar, thanks to the rectal smoke blown by their schools.

      Several die in industry each year. Some by their own ignorance, some at the hidden hand of disgruntled co-workers (tradesmen, foremen, labourers) who don't take kindly to being treated as dog poo. You must remember that since manufacturing has left Canada for Mexico and Asia, most non-governmental places of employment for graduate engineers/scientists are in the north woods mining, extracting and conditioning resources for shipment to the U.S./China.

      Much stress in the working world would be saved should we return to the path you are proposing/reviving. I look forward to updates from you.
    • support
      Baybars, I too worked in the frozen North of western Canada. I was project manager for building (though we did not know it at the time) the world's first gas turbine power plant package to run using refinery flare gas as fuel (those nine gas turbine electrical generators are still running in Tarapoa, Ecuador and are still the UN's baseline design reference for such facilities). It was and is exactly as you say but most of the time it is hilarious rather than murderous: in our case the blue-collars for whom I worked left the project engineer to his own devices. He has not had a decent project since LOL (I think maybe he is a security guard to protect the submarine in Edmonton Mall if he could be trusted with that which I doubt). The difference between life and death for a Canadian oil patch manager can be bringing your crew donuts, coffee and takeaway dinner out of your own pocket when your crews have to work overtime. If a manager treats people like dogs they should not be surprised if they get bitten frequently.

      I thought this might amuse you:

      www.provedplusprobable.com/category/the-technical-side-of-the-business/engineering

      If you like when it is done I will post a link to the finished e-book so that Sputnik readers and posters may receive a copy free.

      I have had some wonderful jobs and have enjoyed a life far beyond my expectations but I will not tolerate under any circumstances the shaming of anyone for their poverty or lack of prospects. My parents had nothing but each other but they gave their children the tools to live good, honest lives though it cost them everything they had including their dignity.

      Rest assured this book will be a vertiable slaughterfest of the pompadour'd prissy sadists which make up our present scientific and engineering "leadership" class. Where we went wrong in short form is in 1969 or so engineers were building solidarity on their own with the AFL-CIO so universities removed any manual-work requirement from degree eligibility. At one time in the USA you had to be able to run a lather, milling machine and grinder before you could get a manufacturing engineering degree (as an example). Those days are gone but that requirement needs to be brought back. That in essence is the main theme of the book.
    • avatar
      Dreamliner Wings Can't Fold Back on Pentagon Impactin reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
      michael,

      That is exactly right - and furthermore, this article did NOT understand the real meaning of "Truthy", which is not about how to spot the truth, but how WE ARE LIED TO.

      Colbert very obviously adapted the word "Truthy" directly from false Commercial Advertising of processed (i.e., fake) foods. The classic example being Hostess Twinkies (followed a close second by Drake's Ring-Dings), which advertised their "Creamy Fillings" - which contained absolutely zero cream (nor any dairy foodstuff) whatsoever! They were engineered to LOOK, FEEL and TASTE like (custard sugar-) cream, but they WEREN'T. (Indeed, there was a hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch - based on actual, laboratory analysis - that you could use these fake-cream products equally as a desert topping or as a floor wax!)

      What "Truthy" means, then, is a LIE that is likewise MANUFACTURED to LOOK (iterally, in the case of fake videos), to SOUND and thus to "FEEL" like the truth - when at its core it isn't, at all.

      And in this light of course you can see even better how right you are, that US Intel wants to use this for "playback" (that's the professional intel word), to see just how well THEIR OWN lies are going down. (Even as they also use it, as I'm sure they will, to try and discredit real truths, which further incriminate and expose them, and their inhuman activities.)

      It's actually very gratifying to see you catch this - and so quickly - in response to this article.

      But Sputnik needs to know the above - and do better, next time. (Maybe they want to give me a job...?)
    • avatar
      michaelin reply toDreamliner Wings Can't Fold Back on Pentagon Impact(Show commentHide comment)
      Dry Pennsylvania Earth Can't Swallow a Dreamliner Whole, thanks for the background there with colbert and twinkies / wing dings.:) Might be worth while approaching them after you post some blogs at that! :)
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