Will humans or computer algorithms be the future arbiters of “truth”?
Today’s infographic from Futurism sums up the ideas that academics, technologists, and other experts are proposing that we implement to stop the spread of fake news.
Below the infographic, we raise our concerns about these methods.
While fake news is certainly problematic, the solutions proposed to penalize articles deemed to be “untrue” are just as scary.
By centralizing fact checking, a system is created that is inherently fragile, biased, and prone for abuse. Furthermore, the idea of axing websites that are deemed to be “untrue” is an initiative that limits independent thought and discourse, while allowing legacy media to remain entrenched.
It could be argued that the best thing about the internet is that it decentralizes content, allowing for any individual, blog, or independent media company to stimulate discussion and new ideas with low barriers to entry. Millions of new entrants have changed the media landscape, and it has left traditional media flailing to find ways to adjust revenue models while keeping their influence intact.
If we say that “truth” can only be verified by a centralized mechanism – a group of people, or an algorithm written by a group of people – we are welcoming the idea that arbitrary sources will be preferred, while others will not (unless they conform to certain standards).
Based on this mechanism, it is almost certain that well-established journalistic sources like The New York Times or The Washington Post will be the most trusted. By the same token, newer sources (like independent media, or blogs written by emerging thought leaders) will not be able to get traction unless they are referencing or receiving backing from these “trusted” gatekeepers.
This centralization is problematic – and here’s a step-by-step reasoning of why that is the case:
First, either method (human or computer) must rely on preconceived notions of what is “authoritative” and “true” to make decisions. Both will be biased in some way. Humans will lean towards a particular consensus or viewpoint, while computers must rank authority based on different factors (Pagerank, backlinks, source recognition, or headline/content analysis).
Next, there is a snowball effect involved: if only posts referencing these authoritative sources of “truth” can get traction on social media, then these sources become even more authoritative over time. This creates entrenchment that will be difficult to overcome, and new bloggers or media outlets will only be able to move up the ladder by associating their posts with an existing consensus. Grassroot movements and new ideas will suffer – especially those that conflict with mainstream beliefs, government, or corporate power.
Finally, this raises concerns about who fact checks the fact checkers. Forbes has a great post on this, showing that Snopes.com (a fact checker) could not even verify basic truths about its own operations.
Removing articles deemed to be “untrue” is a form of censorship. While it may help to remove many ridiculous articles from people’s social feeds, it will also impact the qualities of the internet that make it so great in the first place: its decentralized nature, and the ability for any one person to make a profound impact on the world.
How Many Music Streams Does it Take to Earn a Dollar?
Streaming has breathed new life into the music business, but as new data shows, these services pay out wildly different rates per stream.
How Many Music Streams Does it Take to Earn a Dollar?
A decade ago, the music industry was headed for a protracted fade-out.
The disruptive effects of peer-to-peer file sharing had slashed music revenues in half, casting serious doubts over the future of the industry.
Ringtones provided a brief earnings bump, but it was the growing popularity of premium streaming services that proved to be the savior of record labels and artists. For the first time since the mid-90s, the music industry saw back-to-back years of growth, and revenues grew a brisk 12% in 2018 – nearly reaching $10 billion. In short, people showed they were still willing to pay for music.
Although most forecasts show streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music contributing an increasingly large share of revenue going forward, recent data from The Trichordist reveals that these services pay out wildly different rates per stream.
Note: Due to the lack of publicly available data, calculating payouts from streaming services is not an exact science. This data set is based on revenue from an indie label with a ~150 album catalogue generating over 115 million streams.
Full Stream Ahead
One would expect streaming services to have fairly similar payout rates every time a track is played, but this is not the case. In reality, the streaming rates of major players in the market – which have very similar catalogs – are all over the map. Below is a full breakdown of how many streams it takes to earn a dollar on various platforms:
|Streaming service||Avg. payout per stream||# of streams to earn one dollar||# of streams to earn minimum wage*|
|Google Play Music||$0.00676||147||217,751|
*U.S. monthly minimum wage of $1,472 **Premium tier
Napster, once public enemy number one in the music business, has some of the most generous streaming rates in the industry. On the downside, the brand currently has a market share of less than 1%, so getting a high volume of plays on an album isn’t likely to happen for most artists.
On the flip side of the equation, YouTube has the highest number of plays per song, but the lowest payout per stream by far. It takes almost 1,500 plays to earn a single dollar on the Google-owned video platform.
Spotify, which is now the biggest player in the streaming market, is on the mid-to-low end of the compensation spectrum.
The Payment Pipeline
How do companies like Spotify calculate the amount paid out to license holders? Here’s a look at their payout process:
As this chart reveals, dollars earned from streaming still don’t tell the full story of how much artists receive at the end of the line. This amount is influenced by whether or not the performer has a record deal, and if other contributors have a stake in the recorded work.
The Pressure is Heating Up
When Spotify was a scrappy startup providing a much needed revenue stream to the music industry, labels were temporarily willing to accept lower streaming rates.
But now that Spotify is a public company, and tech giants like Apple and Amazon are in the picture, a growing chorus of industry players will likely dial up the pressure to increase compensation rates.
The Global Fiber Optic Network Explained
An informative look at the global fiber optic network, how the cables actually work, and the technology that will power the 6G network.
The Global Fiber Optic Network Explained
As we scroll through Instagram or cue up another episode on Netflix, most of us give little thought to the hidden network of fiber optic cables that instantaneously shuttle information around the globe.
This extensive network of cables – which could stretch around the Equator 30 times – is the connective tissue that binds the internet, and thanks to our insatiable appetite for video streaming, it’s growing larger with every passing year.
Today’s video, by TED-Ed, explains how fiber optic cables work and introduces the next generation of cables that could drastically increase the speed of data transmission.
A Series of Tubes
The late Senator Ted Stevens drew laughter for describing the internet as a “series of tubes” in 2006, but as it turns out, most of the information moving around the world does, in fact, travel through a series of tubes. Undersea fiber optic tubes, to be exact.
The way this system functions is deceptively simple. Light, which is beamed into a fiber optic cable at a shallow angle, ricochets its way along the tube at close to light speed until being converted back into an electrical signal at its destination – generally a data center. To increase bandwidth further, some cables are able to carry multiple wavelengths concurrently.
Impressively, this simple method of bouncing light through a tube is what moves 99% of the world’s digital information.
The Glass Superhighway
Since the first undersea fiber optic cable, TAT-8, was constructed by a consortium of companies in 1988, the number of cables snaking across the ocean floor has risen dramatically. In fact, over 100 new cables will have been laid between 2016 and 2020, with a value of nearly $14 billion.
Increasing bandwidth requirements have transformed content providers from customers to cable owners. As a result, tech giants like Google and Facebook are taking a more active role in the expansion of the global fiber optic network. Google alone has at least five cable projects set for completion in 2019.
The Last Mile
Much like Amazon struggles with the “last mile” of deliveries, the transmission of digital information is much less efficient at the data center level, where servers are connected by traditional electric cables. These short-range cables are far less efficient than their fiber optic counterparts, losing half their running power as heat.
If this inefficient use of energy isn’t solved, internet-related activity could comprise a fifth of the world’s power consumption by 2030.
Thankfully, a related technology – integrated photonics – could keep the high-definition videos of the future streaming. Although the silicon wires used in integrated photonics do not guide light as effectively as fiber optics, the ultra-thin wires are far more compact. Photonic chips paired with burgeoning terahertz (THz) wireless communications could eventually form the backbone of a 6G network. Short-range THz signals would hitch a ride on silicon wires via tiny photonic chips scattered around population centers.
Before this efficient, high-capacity future is realized, researchers must first solve the puzzle of manufacturing photonic devices at scale. Once this method of data transmission hits the mainstream market, it could drastically alter the course of both computing and global energy consumption.
Markets8 months ago
The Jeff Bezos Empire in One Giant Chart
Maps10 months ago
Mercator Misconceptions: Clever Map Shows the True Size of Countries
Advertising7 months ago
Meet Generation Z: The Newest Member to the Workforce
Misc10 months ago
24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality
Advertising6 months ago
How the Tech Giants Make Their Billions
Technology8 months ago
The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web
Chart of the Week8 months ago
Chart: The World’s Largest 10 Economies in 2030
Environment7 months ago
The World’s 25 Largest Lakes, Side by Side