Breaking fake news

Eamonn Johnson  

Eamonn Johnson is one of the Creative Producers for DWF18. He has also worked with the Melbourne Fringe Festival, as a theatre maker at fortyfivedownstairs, and is completing a Bachelor of Arts/Education (honours) at Monash University.

There has been a lot of fake news recently. Have you read any fake news? Would you know if you had? Ahead of DWF18 event Trust Fall, Eamonn Johnson explores the world of fake news.

It is getting more and more difficult to keep track of what is really going on. As great as reputable fake news sources like The Onion are, it gets a bit confusing when the BBC releases articles like this. What makes things really scary though, is when Artificial Intelligence gets involved. You may have seen this video of Barack Obama recently, and the fact that it is fake has prompted two distinct opinions: technology has allowed us to do terrific things, and technology has allowed us to do terrifying things.

All of this has made it quite tricky to discern what is real and what is not. You could be reading something online, only to find out it’s fake. What’s worse is that you could be talking to a person only to find out they’re fake. Online anonymity, catfishing, and internet bots all undermine our ability to discern who is real online. Unless of course they make it blatantly obvious like this fake Donald Trump Twitter account.

What can we do as it becomes harder to discern what is and isn’t real online?

So far we’ve looked into the things that can make being online a bit spooky, but we haven’t done much more than that. What we can do, is tackle these issues head-on. We can write about them, discuss them, and consequently learn about them. Most of the time, being more aware of something will make it less scary. Most of the time.

Tegan Webb is an artist at DWF18 and has been doing exactly this. Rather than fearing the illusion of online identity or the idea that AI will take over the world, Tegan is “interested less in the question of if we can trust technology or not, and more in how much we trust technology the more or less it appears to behave like a human being.” Writing encourages us to question, and then we can critically engage with our surroundings. That’s when we can have our own Blade Runner ending and judge AI effectively.

Digital technology has done a lot of good things, and a lot of not so good things. Regardless, it is still on us as users to choose whether we will continue to trust it. In response to the issue of trust in the digital era, Trust Fall has been created for DWF18, featuring Tegan and other artists from around the world. The project will showcase a series of artworks that aim to investigate if we can really find trust in a digital world, and allows readers to actively engage with this through interactive elements.

Trust Fall launches Tuesday 30 Oct