[Fis] Fwd: Re: Brenner 2020 New Year Lecture

Pedro C. Marijuán pedroc.marijuan at gmail.com
Tue Jan 7 12:42:56 CET 2020

(Amazingly the list was blocking my usual address all these days! )

-------- Mensaje reenviado --------
Asunto: Re: [Fis] Brenner 2020 New Year Lecture
Fecha: Sun, 5 Jan 2020 21:16:21 +0100
De: Pedro C. Marijuan <pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>
<pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>
Para: fis at listas.unizar.es

Dear Joseph & FISers,

Many thanks for the well crafted Lecture--thanks also to the different
respondents: Jose Antonio, Stan, Mark, Michel, Howard...

My twist on disinformation is that it is a fundamental characteristic of
life, on whatever realm. And that it brings forth some of the most
contentious evolutionary discussions: deception and cheating, selfishness
versus altruism...
I was reading recently that in our guts some of the most cooked strategies
in the battles (& co-operations) among bacteria, viruses, and other
residents, concern signaling: disinforming by using the communication tools
of the rival species (e.g. bacterial quorum systems). Bacteria become
cheated by feeding with wrong signals their own collective information
sharing... Whatever ecosystem we may visit, we will see similar info wars,
mostly between predators and preys. And within each species, the access to
sex and food sources is often surrounded  by cheating strategies,
disinforming the rivals. Chimps are very good in concealing their
intentions and sending the opportune false signals.

The generalization would run as follows: all forms of life maintain a
special interaction with the environment, based not only on energy flows
but also on information flows. By intertwining both, they may adapt
efficiently to an environmental niche and advance a life cycle. They are
genuine "anticipatory systems" involved in developing an adequate behavior
congruent with their own fitness. And this applies to our own lives in the
social niche of our species. We do not have bacterial "quorum systems", but
we share a vast exchange of narratives that work not so differently. And we
can be intoxicated very easily with news, micro-narratives, and a vast
panoply of disinformation cultural products. Jose Antonio has made a good
reference to classical intelligence statecraft. And Michel and Howard have
referred to our selective focus on what narratives we support and are prone
to share and believe.

And then the whole points made by Joseph put in our present context the
many dimensions of the new problem (an aside, given the above I see
unnecessary relying on Floridi for info). On the one side, the problem is
terribly old (evolutionary as said), but on the other, the historical
emergence of new communication tools has immediately created the social
trouble that usually the new media are used first for disinformation.
Nowadays given the fast & furious predominance of social networks as a
source of info & trust, developing the countermeasures of
reputational/competence/intelligence tools will be slower than the
disinformation abuse. Who said a lie can travel half way around the world
while the truth is putting on its shoes? The only consolation is that at
the end of the journey the scholarly tortoise overtakes Achilles--if she is
not killed right away by the warriors.

Finally disinformation has IMO a peculiar form/structure, somehow
different. It fits too well with some preconceived "partisan" views, it is
addressed to raise visceral reactions, it contains no contrasting or
balancing elements, it has no evident/credible "institutional" reference.
It is a fake!

All the best wishes for the New Year

Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es
pedroc.marijuan at gmail.com

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