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Technology and the End of Reality: Is the infocalypse imminent?

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It is now common to hear people fret about the power of technology to distort our perception of reality. With the advent of deepfakes, cheapfakes, fake news, and filter bubbles, it seems that technological forces are aligning to make it harder for us to sort fact from fiction. Some take this fear to an extreme. They worry that advances in technology will bring about the end of a shared sense of reality. No longer will people debate a common core of shared facts and assumptions about the world. Instead, everyone will live inside their own bubbles and dismiss the views of outsiders. We are living, according to these critics, in the shadow of the “infocalypse”. Will this happen? What are the mechanisms that might bring it about? And does it really matter if it does? In this article, I want to try to explore and tentatively answer some of these questions. Although the claim about the imminent end of reality is common, I’m not sure that it is always well defended. It is easy to point to an emerging technology such as deepfakes and say something provocative about its power to bring about the end of reality; it’s harder to prove that this will actually happen. I don’t claim to provide definitive proof in what follows, but I do hope I to provide some clarity on how it might happen. In brief, I want to suggest that the mechanisms that could bring about an end to a shared sense of reality are more complex and pervasive than is commonly assumed. This should be a cause of concern though there are some obvious historical parallels to our current situation that should not be overlooked. Furthermore, bringing an end to a shared sense of reality has some attractions, although there is a paradox associated with this. 1. Why is a shared sense of reality important? Let me start by considering the practical importance of this inquiry. It may seem obvious to you why having a shared sense of reality — by which I mean a belief that you and your peers live in the same world, share some. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

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