Disinformation has gradually eroded our confidence in scientific advancements and broader global issues, including the very essence of democracy.
At the 2023 Nobel Prize Summit ‘Truth, Trust and Hope’ speakers from around the world, including laureates, industry experts, human rights advocates and tech ethicists, united to address, raise awareness and ultimately tackle this threat our society faces.
Spanning three days, the event encompassed a blend of virtual and on-site sessions, during which speakers and panellists delved into the truths behind the manipulation tactics employed by technology and autocratic regimes. However, amidst the darkness, a glimmer of hope emerges through the power of trust. As Nobel Prize laureate and journalist, Maria Ressa passionately emphasises, “without facts you cannot have truth. Without truth you cannot have trust. Without that we have no shared reality.”
Here are some highlights from the event:
How to make mindsets matter
Psychological anthropologist Nat Kendall-Taylor presents compelling research about how our ‘cultural mindsets’ are implicit in shaping our thinking and how we consume information. As communicators, we must be mindful of our dominant biases and understand they can impede our trust in science. Watch to learn more about untapped strategies to help us fight against disinformation.
Sharing is caring: What drives the spread of misinformation?
Watch this fascinating presentation from Gizem Ceylan, behavioural scientist at Yale University School of Management, and her work researching how big tech monetises our user engagement on social media in harmful ways and what we can do to combat it with design technologies. “The real problem isn’t the people, it’s the reward structure on the social platforms,” says Ceylan.
“Technology became a beacon of rights. Social media provided a digital public square. They helped shaped analysis of resistance and created a network of solidarity. But unfortunately, with that great power comes great responsibilities.”
Nobel Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman
Technologies that helped galvanised public discourse and platforms were vehicles for spreading awareness in revolutions such as the Arab Spring, Occupy WallStreet and Ukrainian Revolution. But it worked both ways; now the information ecosystem that enabled dissent is now being used to suppress it.
Nobel Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman addressed this year’s summit in an inspiring video message about how history of information eco system as fuelled uprising against autocrats and is being used by them to spread disinformation to vulnerable people. However, Karman, in her passionate message, gives us hope, challenging us to take courage so “we can safeguard the truth and protect the people’s voices.”
Healing our troubled ecosystem
Listen to Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, United Nations, and her speech on how “social media is being weaponised to provoke the worst in human nature.” She speaks about how governments are using free digital tools to spread propaganda and how the UN is responding by pushing big tech on multiple fronts to bring balance to our information systems.
I’m not afraid. You’re afraid
Watch the thought-provoking talk by technology ethicist Tristan Harris, on the race between technology creators and our regulation on AI and our ever-increasing addiction to social media. Harris proposes that when we are creating this technology, we need to look further than blaming big tech on providing platforms for disinformation but balance the power of creation of technologies with our responsibility to govern and understand it.
Truth + Trust = Hope?
Four Nobel Prize laureates sat down for a panel discussion on one of our main themes of the summit: how can the scientific community generate more trust in science? Laureates Maria Ressa, Richard Roberts, Martin Chalfie and David MacMillan, discuss how the scientific community need to address the problems of science literacy and critical thinking and the strategies needed to help preserve facts. As laureate Martin Chalfie, advises, “We need to build on public trust. We need to work with the communities.”
Panel talk: a global conversation
Disinformation does not just erode trust in our sciences, it is also used for spreading propaganda against journalists who are working against autocratic regimes. Listen to Flora Rebello Arduini, business and international human rights law expert, Rana Ayyub, investigative journalist, Rebecca MacKinnon, Vice President, Global Advocacy, Wikimedia Foundation and Maia Mazurkiewicz, Alliance4Europe speak about their experiences and solutions in combatting this dangerous global attack on facts.
Truth, Trust and Hope: Hope has a plan
Nobel Prize laureate Maria Ressa wrapped up day one of our programme with an emotional and hopeful address with a proposal for the future. Globally, women journalists are under attack, fascism and dictatorships are on the rise, but with the ‘Ten Point Plan’ there is hope to suppress and regulate the rise of extremism and the effect technology and disinformation is having on weakening democracy.
The Nobel Prize Summit was held in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC on 24-26 May 2023. For more information about the event visit the summit website