Free Speech

Christopher Mims had a piece up in his Thursday Tech column concerning the “usefulness” of good-guy bots to help combat filter bubbles, hate speech and harassment, and state-sponsored disinformation, along with other troll-ish speech.

Mims, unfortunately, is operating from the false premise that speech should be censored. Apart from obvious attempts to incite criminal violence, of course it should not be. Free speech must be free, bad speech—whatever that is; the definition varies from person to person and time to time—can only be answered with more speech.

As one commenter on Mims’ piece noted further,

The idea of algorithms controlling which information is disseminated to the people strikes me as the fast lane to the Orwellian world of Big Brother or perhaps Wells’ future in the Time Machine.

Ensuring that our political and educational systems prepare people to maintain their common sense and independence is probably a better defense than leaving it to the machines.

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