Microsoft has a plan to use AI to create a “healthy information ecosystem” just in time for the 2024 election.
A February 5 headline from Microsoft’s own site sends the signal: “Here’s how we’re working with journalists to create the newsrooms of the future with AI.” That’s the intended future: The marriage of Big Tech and Big Journalism, with a hybrid offspring coming soon to a screen near you.
Highlighting new “partnerships” with various publications and non-profits, Microsoft tells us, “We are helping these organizations identify and refine the procedures and policies to use AI responsibly in newsgathering and business practices,” adding that the goal is to “identify ways AI can help create efficient business practices and help build sustainable newsrooms for generations to come.”
Here’s the translation from the corporate blather-speak: Microsoft, the richest company in the world, is making its move into journalism, or, more precisely, the journalism business. Journalism, for better or worse, requires journalists, those flesh-and-blood cost centers, whereas the journalism business can get by on whatever it can get away with, AI-wise.
Yet, so far, at least, AI journalism has not been a success. Most obviously, reporters realize that AI could send them down the same automated chute as bobbin turners and hod carriers. So they’ve been calling out AI when it’s gotten too flagrant, as in the recent case of Sports Illustrated. That was a victory for journos, although, of course, soon thereafter, the publication shut down.
Without a doubt, the cost-cutters and spread-sheeters will keep slicing, and at the same time, AI will keep improving, even if it might always have problems in the uncanny valley.
Yet Microsoft charges ahead, unspooling a slew of botwords—“responsible,” “sustainable,” “efficient”—that seem half cyborg. Of course, it’s all a cloak for the woke. Such wokeness should be no surprise, given that AI is being built in places such as Seattle and San Francisco. (This blue-state-origin problem will be endemic until red states figure out how to make their own AI.)
This announcement from Microsoft is not just about the news business in general. It is also about “democratic elections worldwide.” The Microsoft February 5 announcement makes this explicitly clear:
How convenient for President Joe Biden and the Democrats that Microsoft is creating this “healthy information ecosystem” in time for the 2024 election.
We can see the “reportage” now: The economy is strong, the border is okay, crime is going down, electric vehicles are a great idea, diversity is our strength, trans women are women, and so on. Oh, and Joe Biden is super, thanks for asking.
Will that schtick convince you, dear reader? Probably not. But if it fills up teens’ TikTok, it might move enough votes in Georgia or Arizona. Oh, and by the way, Microsoft’s AI, as aimed by Democrats, could also assure us, swear to Gates, that vote fraud is a myth.
So, that could be the future: The news as a platform, with the platform controlled by, “populated” by, AI. At the same time, we’ll be told by our digital overlords that Donald Trump is a menace to society, that Republicans hate women, and that climate change is an existential threat. Any reporting to the contrary is, of course, disinformation.
Ah, disinformation! How many crimes are committed in thy name! As Breitbart News readers know, the reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop, or the ill effects of Covid lockdowns, were true. Yet these and other truths were suppressed, labeled as “disinformation.” Back then, Big Tech, including Twitter, was happy to join in the suppression. Anything to help the peppy and sharp-as-a-tack Joe Biden win the election!
Yet since Biden took office, this new kind of political correctness has taken some hits; for instance, in 2022, the Soviet-sounding “Disinformation Governance Board” was laughed out of existence. Perhaps most consequentially, Elon Musk purchased Twitter, renamed it X, and established it as a counter-disinformation machine.
Elon Musk x / Twitter
Still, the “d” word lives, alongside its sibling, misinformation, for one simple reason: The left and the Democrats don’t want dissenting views, and they have access to big money, tapping both Big Government and Big Progressivism.
On January 26, journalist Lee Fang—himself a refugee from the left—reported on the efforts of one Brian Murphy, a former FBI agent and onetime head of the intelligence unit at the Department of Homeland Security. Murphy “has proposed that law enforcement and intelligence agencies formalize the process of sharing tips with private sector actors—a ‘hybrid constellation’ including the press, academia, researchers, non-partisan organizations, and social media companies—to dismantle ‘misinformation’ campaigns before they take hold.” So there you have it: The whole lefty apparatus linked up.
Moreover, Murphy has been working with—you guessed it—AI to further suppress badthink. A British AI company, Logically, also “maintains a public-facing editorial team that produces viral content and liaisons with the traditional news media.” Fang adds that Logically “differs from other players in this industry by actively deploying what they call ‘countermeasures’ to dispute or remove problematic content from social media platforms.” Now there’s a word: countermeasures. A government well-funded enough to not only detect “disinformation” but then also well-muscled enough to start punching it out.
Logically has done jobs for the government of the United Kingdom (the Conservative Party, in power for the last 14 years, has operated mostly like liberal Democrats in the U.S., although that could, at long last, be changing), as well as the government of Canada (we all know about its woke leader, Justin Trudeau). Here in the U.S., Logically has gained contracts with the state of Oregon, the city of Chicago, and the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command (and that’s just what we know about).
So there’s the vision: Big Tech knows who’s been nice and who’s been naughty and is armed with both carrots and sticks. The hoped-for end result: a “clean” media environment, as judged by, say, Hillary Clinton and enforced by, say, the singing censor Nina Jankowicz. The truth and nothing but the truth!
This vision of news sanitation recalls the 2004 movie The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which the main characters go to a tech service to have their minds wiped of unpleasant memories. So now maybe AI can update: The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless News.
Will this shiny and seamless vision or news hygiene work? Will this tech-totalitarianism succeed? One thing we’ve learned: Folks are kinda stubborn and actually rather hard to fool. Across the world, people have rejected the slickest and most one-sided propaganda in favor of socialism and communism. Back in 2008, we might recall, a very annoyed Barack Obama lamented that people “cling to guns or religion.” And at least a few media outlets will not Obey–one such being Breitbart News.
So, there’s good reason to hope that Americans—enough of them, at least—will see through this latest “techaganda” push. But don’t think for a moment that it won’t be a fight.