WeeklyTech #163

Two ways to make digital activism better

According to Pew Research Center, 80% of Americans say social media platforms are effective for raising public awareness about political or social issues, and over half have also been civically engaged on social media in recent years. Social media can be a powerful tool when harnessed with wisdom as we seek to influence change and address grave issues of injustice throughout our world. 

But for all of the positive change that these tools can help facilitate, one of the temptations in this age of social media is to believe that digital activism is all that is needed to address real-world issues. Digital activism can quickly become a substitute for true and lasting change because we buy into the lie that simply participating in an online campaign is enough. 

Here are two ways to think about social change and move beyond raising awareness of these issues online.

The Rundown

Here come the robot doctors by Dan Primack | Axios

ChatGPT, the generative AI juggernaut, is getting a lot smarter when it comes to health care. Why it matters: A lot of clinical diagnoses and decisions could someday be made by machines, rather than by human doctors.

Meta’s Ad Practices Ruled Illegal Under E.U. Law by Adam Satariano | New York Times

Meta suffered a major defeat on Wednesday that could severely undercut its Facebook and Instagram advertising business after European Union regulators found it had illegally forced users to effectively accept personalized ads.

Biden mustn’t jeopardize Congress’s bipartisan agreement to protect children and privacy by Clare Morell | Washington Examiner

Nobody on Capitol Hill is taking issue with President Joe Biden’s recent calls to hold Big Tech accountable and protect the public’s privacy and children online in his Wall Street Journal opinion piece this past week. But Biden’s words show that he is unconcerned with (or at the very least unaware of) the fact that policymakers, especially in the Republican Party, have been focused on these issues for years, long before he joined the fight.

Stop Living in Social Media Land by Thomas Kidd

There was a time a few years ago where I would have qualified as a ‘very online’ academic. I don’t think I am anymore, and here’s how I know – I have had two conversations in recent months when people have said something to the effect of ‘I assume you have seen [controversy X] on Twitter?’ My answer was ‘no.’ And that made me happy.

Alarmed by A.I. Chatbots, Universities Start Revamping How They Teach by Kalley Huang | New York Times

While grading essays for his world religions course last month, Antony Aumann, a professor of philosophy at Northern Michigan University, read what he said was easily “the best paper in the class.” It explored the morality of burqa bans with clean paragraphs, fitting examples and rigorous arguments.

This 22-year-old is trying to save us from ChatGPT before it changes writing forever by Greg Rosalsky and Emma Peaslee | NPR

While many Americans were nursing hangovers on New Year’s Day, 22-year-old Edward Tian was working feverishly on a new app to combat misuse of a powerful, new artificial intelligence tool called ChatGPT.

Next up for CRISPR: Gene editing for the masses? by Jessica Hamzelou | MIT Technology Review

We know the basics of healthy living by now. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction can help us avoid heart disease—the world’s biggest killer. But what if you could take a vaccine, too? And not a typical vaccine—one shot that would alter your DNA to provide lifelong protection?