Jun 12, 2023

Nobel Prize Summit 2023 Day 2 Transcript

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Nobel Prize Summit 2023 Day 2. Read the transcript here.

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Amri Price (00:00):


Maia Mazurkiewicz (19:31):

Good morning, everyone.

Amri Price (19:32):

Hello, everybody. How are we this morning?

Maia Mazurkiewicz (19:36):

I think we’re ready to start, ready to roll.

Amri Price (19:39):

Yes. If you could just be seated, we can get going.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (19:45):

My name is Maia Mazurkiewicz.

Amri Price (19:47):

And I’m Amri Price.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (19:49):

And we are co-founders of Alliance4Europe.

Amri Price (19:51):

We’ll take you through the day today. We have some very exciting activities for everybody.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (19:57):

And we are very excited to kick off the second day after an amazing day yesterday. How did you like yesterday?

Speaker 1 (20:05):


Amri Price (20:05):

Let’s give a big round of applause to all of the organizers, everyone who did that massive production yesterday. Thank you so much for bringing us all together.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (20:16):

Today, it’s going to be more intimate, but what I love about it is that we are coming together to actually work and think how we can move it forward.

Amri Price (20:24):

And this is such a crucial time to be dealing with all of these tech and democracy issues, how our society moves ahead, and here with all of the talent and intellect and capacities in the room, we’ll be able to really drill down to how we move from problem to solution.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (20:45):

We’ve been discussing about truth, trust, and hope. Let’s bring the hope and how to build it through to our future. And I think that the most important part is that we can connect. We have an amazing intelligence coming in the room and the collective, the coming together, is a force that can move us forward.

Amri Price (21:09):

And so maybe before we dive deeper into this, we’ll bring on those who have made all of this possible without whom we would not be here. So let me introduce Marcia McNutt, the President of the National Academies of Science.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (21:27):

And Vidar Helgesen, Executive Director of Nobel Foundation.

Amri Price (21:30):

There you go.

Marcia McNutt (21:43):

Well, thank you all very much. I know most of you participated in yesterday’s events, which were really thrilling and insightful. I thought it’d take a few minutes to summarize what I took away as some of the main points from the speakers yesterday. Of course, many of you have not even had a chance to speak, so we’re looking forward to hearing from you all today, but here are a few takeaways from yesterday. One matter that kept coming up was the incentive system and how we have too many perverse incentives. Some of the ideas that were thrown out yesterday is imposing on tech companies a duty of care for democracy, not just to their shareholders, but actually to our democratic principles. It’s easy to see that there’s a huge difference between Wikipedia, nonprofit, and what a good job Wikipedia’s done in preventing misinformation from taking over that platform, versus the for-profit platforms, which don’t have the same duty to the public and to their contributors.

Another thing that came up over and over again was the issue of how we as scientists are relating to communities. One thing that was mentioned yesterday was the problem when scientists say, “You need to do this.” I remember back from the time when I was Head of the U.S. Geological Survey. As scientists, we never told policymakers what they need to do. We would instead ask, “What outcome would you like?” And they’d say, “Well, this is what we’d like to happen so this is what we’re thinking of imposing.” And as a scientist, I’d say, “Well, if that’s the outcome you want, that’s not what you want to impose because here’s what the science says the result will be of taking that action.” And so it is a matter of matching the science to what the desired political outcome is. And that’s also true with talking with just people if you start with shared values and you agree that these are things we want to see.

I have a group that I go camping with in the Sierras every summer. We’ve been doing this for 25 years now. And the people that we camp with are very conservative from very red parts of the state of California and we start with saying, “This is something we love doing together and we want our children and grandchildren to have the same experience.” And then I start pointing out to them how things have changed over the 20 years, how the first couple years we came up, we would have to break the ice on the horse’s water troughs every morning and now we haven’t seen ice for years, and how this changing temperature is actually changing the meadows and changing the ecosystems. And not in ways that we feel it’s quite the same experience.

So I think it’s important for all of us, especially scientists here in this audience, to get out of our science ghettos, spend more time with our communities so that they trust us because we’re one of them and they know we share their values. Otherwise, as scientists, we tend to submerge our values. We want to get at the truth regardless of what we might value, but the public doesn’t understand that. They want to know that we want the same outcome that they do when we talk about science.

Vidar Helgesen (25:37):

And today we will be really drilling down into these issues with scientists, business people, decision makers, civil society as an example of what needs to happen if we are to have a better information environment. Scientists and others need to work together. And we’re going to have still with us today world leading experts and world leading practitioners this morning in three panels. The first panel will look at how the information environment in this complex world of ours can be a force for good. What does that take? The second will look at how behavioral science can help us overcome health misinformation. And the third panel will look at something many touched on yesterday, which was the rapid development of new technologies, and in particular, of course, AI, and the extent to which that will be a force for bad or an opportunity for good.

So quite exciting discussions this morning. This will all be streamed for the digital audience globally. After the break, we’ll have breakout sessions here in this center, but there will be a parallel digital program streamed on nobelprize.org. And, not least, there will be this test of the deliberative polling instrument that we’re doing in collaboration with Stanford to see how the digital audience can take part in a deliberative polling. So that’s something that will also take place today. And if I’m not mistaken, it’s not too late to register for that deliberative exercise. We’ll get back here at the end of the day, including with the digital audience, to close it off. But in the meantime, a wow factor from yesterday can be replicated in many different ways throughout today as well. Have a great day.

Marcia McNutt (28:08):

We’re looking forward to all of you speaking up. This is a great quality audience of real experts, so we want to hear from you. Thank you.

Amri Price (28:29):

Those were some words of wisdom right there. I think the phrase that will really stick with me is “duty of care for our democracy”. And I think duty of care also expands holistically to duty of care to each other as human beings, to our society, to what kind of future we want to live in. So, yeah, I think we’ll go through a couple of points on how the agenda is going to run.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (28:52):

I think that’s already been very much done by Vidar, so thank you so much. But, indeed, we’re going to start with the three panels right now and later, with the lunch break, we’re going to go to the breakouts. And I think that’s the most exciting part for many of you, because that will be a possibility for you to talk and speak and give all your knowledge to the table as well. And later, we’re going to come back on the stage. We’re going to be harvesting the discussions from the breakouts, so that will be possible for our online audience. Thank you so much for being here with us.

Amri Price (29:27):

And we have a very intimate setting here, as you can see, but we’re told by the organizers, we do have thousands of people watching online. So be on your best behavior, have a good smile on, and let’s get going. Maybe just by a show of hands, who here is from academia? Just so we understand who’s in the room. We have a lot of academics.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (29:48):

And from business?

Amri Price (29:51):

All right. And civil society? Okay.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (29:55):

Any media with us?

Amri Price (29:57):

Media, journalists on the cover? Anyone?

Maia Mazurkiewicz (29:59):

Anything else that we didn’t mention maybe?

Amri Price (30:01):

Government? Anyone in government? Okay.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (30:04):

Perfect. So we really have diversity in the room. That’s what we need.

Amri Price (30:09):

Who wants to start talking to each other?

Maia Mazurkiewicz (30:12):


Amri Price (30:14):

All right. Maybe you can just for a moment, that’s Jacob over there, the producer, he’s leaning over his laptop over there, and, again, thank you so much for getting this together, but maybe you could just take 10 seconds to turn to your neighbor and tell them what is your expectation for today? What do you want to achieve? Just between the two of you. We’ll give you 10 seconds.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (30:53):

10 seconds.

Amri Price (30:54):

Okay! All right!

Maia Mazurkiewicz (30:54):


Amri Price (30:54):

10 seconds. Zooming back in, one, two, and we’re back. All right. The excitement is palpable.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (31:10):

Wow. There’s a lot of expectations in here, right? Very good.

Amri Price (31:14):

A lot of dynamism here. All right. Thank you all.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (31:17):


Amri Price (31:17):


Speaker 2 (31:22):

Be careful what you wish for.

Amri Price (31:22):


Maia Mazurkiewicz (31:22):


Amri Price (31:22):

We unleashed the genie. Here we go.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (31:27):

Thank you to all of you.

Amri Price (31:28):

All right, we’re done. Thank you, everybody.

Maia Mazurkiewicz (31:33):

Are you excited now to hear from the first panel? Yeah? Woo-hoo!

Amri Price (31:34):


Maia Mazurkiewicz (31:34):

So the first panel will be Collaboration and its Complexity. And, indeed, we’re going to be listening in here of how to build a global information environment that promotes human progress and the role of collaboration, and the collaboration is something that we really, really need. And I’m very excited to have on stage Sheldon Himelfarb from the PeaceTech Lab, that’s going to be moderating the panel, and great panelists, Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Prize Laureate from 2011, that will join us online, John Momoh, CEO of Nigeria Channel TV, Sanjiv Ahuja, Chair and Founder of Tillman Global Holdings, and Melissa Fleming, U.N. Under Secretary General for Global Communication. Please welcome to them to the stage. Correct that. That is disinformation.

Sheldon Himelfarb (32:56):

Either that

Sheldon Himelfarb (33:00):

… matters. Something’s happened in the last 24 hours she’s not aware of. Welcome, everybody. It is just so great to be here. I’m really mindful that time is short, so I really want to get us going [inaudible 00:33:20] as possible. Let me set this conversation up. Across day one, we heard tons, lots of discussion about the peril and the harms of the information environment, and we also heard many ideas for being better stewards of the information environment. In fact, frankly it was an embarrassment of riches. There were so many good ideas to be doing.

So it is no surprise that the brilliant summit team, and here I’m talking about Anna Douagi and Franklin Carrero-Martínez, that after doing their homework on the landscape of ideas that were out there, for turning back the turmoil in our information environment is [inaudible 00:34:11] they would ask, “how can we get all of these brilliant ideators and social entrepreneurs, how can we get them to work together? Can we use the summit to try to stimulate some collaboration?” When they mentioned this to me, I said, “absolutely. Sign me up. What can I do?” And they said, “well, could you do a panel on this conversation?” I said, “I’d love to.” they said, “you have 40 minutes.”

To which I thought, “wait, it takes some people 40 minutes just to say Sheldon Himelfarb.” I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem today, but I do think we’ve got really, truly a magnificent panel to begin the discussion. Their expertise spans the globe, spans sectors, spans political cultures, which of course is the complexity of this topic. Getting collaboration across all of those areas is vital. I just want to say that we recognize, it’s also critical to have interdisciplinary collaboration across psychology, neuroscience, computer science, data science, which is something that was discussed yesterday. I want to put a plug in for the panel at one o’clock today, Project Hope, where there will be a fabulous array of research leads from the IPIE to talk about exactly that, the cross-discipline element of this challenge.

So this panel here, they are far too accomplished for me to waste their time or your time, you want to hear directly from them, giving chapter and verse on their bios, which you can find on the website. Here is Sheldon’s quick and dirty of what you need to know about each of these folks. Under-Secretary Fleming, who from now on will be known as Melissa on this panel at her request. From UN, heads their global comms work today, but is also someone who has made an enormous difference to the world in leadership posts at many other international organizations like OSCE, like the International Atomic Energy Association, like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, a true public servant. We are all [inaudible 00:36:45] for her dedication and what we’re going to talk about today, her ability to wrangle compromise among nations.

Sanjiv Ahuja, a wildly successful technology executive, and one of the world’s leading builders of the infrastructure on which today’s global information environment relies. When I think of Sanjiv’s work, I think of the guy whose company may have put up more cell phone towers across the developing world than just about any other person I know, connecting many millions of people to the internet and just as importantly to each other. John Momoh. John is the founder, CEO of Channels Broadcasting, based, headquartered in Nigeria, broadcasting all around the world. Channels is the largest, and if you read the Financial Times of London, at one point I remember them calling John and Channels the most trusted independent broadcaster in Africa. Please give this group a hand. now that you’ve met the folks on stage, you will understand why I would introduce myself today as Einstein’s chauffeur. I’d love to dive in with the folks here, but I want to start by introducing my only invisible panelist, Tawakkol Karman, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner from Yemen. Someone whose work has been an inspiration to millions of people, including myself. Tawakkol could not be here in person, but she was really, very generous with her time and her ideas when we spoke by video. Can you roll the video please?

Tawakkol Karman (38:46):

Hello everyone. [Foreign language 00:38:48], salaam alaikum. First of all, congratulations to the Nobel Foundation and the National Academy of Science for organizing this important conference on misinformation. I think the title you have chosen, Truth, trust, and Hope perfectly suits this moment in our history. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there with you in Washington DC, but thanks to technology, I am participating with you now discussing the importance of collaboration to defeat hate and disinformation. First of all, evolving information environment is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, social media platforms have made information more accessible. Content creation is simplified, and information is spreading faster. All of this means that people can express their opinions and connect with others around the world much more easily. On the other hand, these tools can be exploited by malicious actors to undermine elections, cause confusion in times of crisis, and take advantage of people, as well as by authoritarian regimes that want to use these platforms to maintain their grip on power, and silence the voices of their opponents.

From my own experience as a Yemeni and an Arab living under authoritarian regimes, I have seen both sides of technology, the dark and the light sides. As you know, the Arab Spring was a watershed moment in modern history that demonstrated the power of collective peaceful action, and the will of the people to achieve freedom and justice. Freedom, justice and democracy. In this historic moment, social media proved to be a powerful catalyst, igniting a flame of change that spread across nations. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube provided a platform for Arab citizen to express their grievances, mobilize protests, and share information with the world in real time. Through hashtags, posts and videos, people were able to unite and break the barriers of silence imposed by authoritarian regimes. Technology became a beacon of hope that allowed ordinary citizens to document human rights abuses, expose corruption and demand justice.

Social media in general provided a digital public square where ideas, stories and demands for change could be shared and amplified. They help shape a narrative of resistance and curate an international network of solidarity. unfortunately, with that great power, comes great responsibility and challenges. The dark side of this technological revolution has come to light. The authoritarian regimes have recognized the potential threat of social media and quickly adapted their tactics to exploit social media to maintain their grip on power and suppress dissent. They have spread misinformation, embraced digital surveillance, deployed cyber armies and enacted laws to control online discourse. By monitoring and manipulating online content, the authoritarian regimes’ electronic lies, we call them in Arab region electronic lies, and pro regime influencer and broadcasters, and of course fake accounts have been used to spread false stories about dissident, about peaceful revolution, about women activists, about journalists, about Arab Spring in general, and smear journalists as I said, human rights activists and also political activists. There are many numerous cases from Jamal Khashoggi, to [inaudible 00:44:06], to myself. Despite all these obstacles and challenges, I firmly believe that we can overcome them. If we cooperate and work together, we can safeguard the truth and protect the people’s voices, and integrity of digital spaces. Global democracies, tech companies and civil societies organizations must join forces to support the voices of those who strive for freedom, democracy, dignity, and human rights.

Speaker 3 (44:52):

Hello there.

Speaker 4 (44:52):

Hello. We’re here at the stop.

Sheldon Himelfarb (44:55):

Thank you Tawakkol. I mean, I can’t really imagine a better frame conversation, because Tawakkol, she… By the way, in the full video, Tawakkol has given us much more than that we’ll be showing on the Nobel site. She tees up the role of [inaudible 00:45:15], she tees up the role of platforms. She tees up the role of all of us in collaborating to pull this information environment back from the brink of disaster. Let’s get started here. I want to go first if I can to you, Melissa, because yesterday, your wonderful presentation, you highlighted one of those initiatives that I was referring to when I talked about the embarrassment of riches yesterday of ideas, when you said there will be coming a code of conduct for information integrity at UN. I have to admit, when I first heard about this, the idea of collaborating on something like information integrity, when information, we have to admit is a tool of asymmetric warfare among so many of the member states, it astounds me, it encourages me and it perplexes me. Can you tell us, how are you approaching this? How are you able to get member states to collaborate on such a sensitive issue? It seems a herculean task.

Melissa Fleming (46:24):

Yeah. I think it’s really clear. I mean, the UN takes on a lot of curriculum tasks, but we are working all over the world to try to make our world more peaceful, more sustainable, livable. we’re finding… I think UN and those who are struggling for freer societies have also just given us that call. We cannot achieve these goals in toxic information environments. Our information environments have just gone out of balance with, we all know that with the rise of social media and digital platforms, this is spelled the demise of independent media. Maybe not you, but there are many, I mean in this country, it is very widely reported that there are news deserts that mean that there is no reporting at all in local communities. In some countries that are fragile, and vulnerable, and poor, and suffering from conflict, and climate change, and poverty, this has meant the complete demise of independent media.

What has streamed in to replace it are free tools from Silicone Valley that are not necessarily being used for the greater good, and Tawakkol explained how some autocratic governments have very quickly become masters of the platforms, and those who are trying to be voices of change in those countries are now under attack. Yes, completely agree that they have been useful for pulling people together for protest movements and bringing out solidarity when there is absolutely no news coverage. Because that’s another consequence of the financial models of the news media suffering under the rise of social media is that we’ve seen almost the extinction of the foreign correspondent. We have been counting on citizen journalists and celebrating that they can actually tell us what’s going on in their war zone or in their drought ridden country through the power of social media. Those very voices are under attack.

We feel a responsibility at the UN, not only because we ourselves are under attack, but the work that we are trying to do is being undermined. Therefore we’re working on a number of fronts, but we believe a UN code of conduct on integrity, on digital platforms, on information integrity and using this word information integrity will hopefully set a gold standard. Unlike the EU Digital Services Act, we’re not going to be able to sanction companies, but we do have a moral authority in the world. The platforms we work with really try to convince us that they’re living up to human rights standards. If we all come together and this is a agreed UN document gold standard, we do think that we’ll have more advocacy power. Not just us in the UN, those of us here who are all working for a more healthy information environment.

Sheldon Himelfarb (50:15):

So let me pull that thread around how you seek collaboration on the code actually happening despite the world being so divided on this topic, truth being so elusive. I think what I heard, and you tell me if I’m right, I think what I heard you say, the overriding needs, the overriding imperatives that we’ve already agreed upon like the SDGs, the sustainable development, that you believe that because member states will want to see those things that they’ve already put their name to succeed, that they will be able to be brought along for a code of conduct around. Is that a fair description?

Melissa Fleming (51:07):

That’s a fair description, but I want to say that this is not going to be a document that needs to be signed off by member states. We are briefing them on it, we’re asking for their views, but it will not be a member state negotiated outcome document. That is because also, it’s not only up to member states to solve this problem, obviously governments can be part of the problem. We’re very conscious that we’re not putting anything in this document that could be instrumentalized to be detrimental to freedom of expression for example. It is going to be a standard setting document that is issued by the UN Secretary General, by the UN secretariat that has the input of member states, that has the input of you, has the input of the platforms, we’re presenting it to the platforms as well. I think if we tried that approach of having it be negotiated by member states, approved by member states, then it would not be a gold standard code of conduct.

Sheldon Himelfarb (52:26):

Got it. Got it. I’m really, really tempted to-

Melissa Fleming (52:30):

By the way, I think maybe there should be an 18th SDG.

Sheldon Himelfarb (52:35):

… About information integrity. Sure.

Melissa Fleming (52:36):

Information integrity.

Sheldon Himelfarb (52:38):

Then the other 17 might not have passed.

Melissa Fleming (52:41):

Because it is an underlying requirement for a healthy society to have information environments that are also healthy.

Sheldon Himelfarb (52:50):

Well, I can’t resist, sorry. I have to go to you, Sanjiv, just to speak about this. I say that because as long as I’ve known, you have been working all around the world in very tough places. When I first met you, you were putting cell phone towers in Burma in the quiet time when there was, freedom was just starting to blossom there, it was opening up, and now it closed down again on a very authoritarian regime. Do you have any reaction to what Melissa was just saying about bringing member states together around something like this? Do you know how hard it is?

Sanjiv Ahuja (53:30):

It’ll take 20 years for the member states to agree on something, that’s what concerns me. This is something we can’t ignore. It needs to be dealt with now because both the positive, and what we are experiencing, the negative impact is at a pace we have never seen before. I was talking to John earlier today, look at what happened with, called yellow journalism in early 1900s are tabloid journalism. Pages and pages, 70, 80, 90% of the content was not meant for consumption by the regular people. It was either made up, created just to sell. People like, I believe very early guys in New York and on the West Coast, where it was the Hearst, or the Pritzkers, and others stepped up and try to work on it. Civic society needs to step and push it faster. We don’t have 10 years, we don’t have 20 years.

A question was asked, “what’s my expectation out of today? With 200 research scientists, maybe we have algorithms created by the end of the day that solve this problem.” unfortunately that’s not going to happen. I think what we are lacking is the time, and getting a consensus of the member states will not happen in our lifetime, and we’ll have massive set of issues. The civic society… We don’t have, and you compare it to environment and climate change issues. Climate change is on a slow burn relative to the misinformation and its impact. It is rapid, it is instantaneous. the reaction of that, and the only way the corporates will act is if the civic society puts the pressure on social media, on creating the norms, European commission is stepping up with regulation, but I think it’s imperative United Nations moves at that pace with all my humility to United Nations’ speed of action, needs to move at a different pace, regulation in this country. I’m not a believer in regulation, needs to move with a very light touch, but needs to move rapidly, instead of white papers coming out of the White House.

Sheldon Himelfarb (56:02):

Well, okay, I want to go now to your background in the technology industry, Sanjiv, because I couldn’t resist asking you about some of the countries where you’ve worked and what Melissa had said. We need to talk about getting collaboration with the tech sector too.

You’ve sort of touched upon it here, Melissa mentioned it as well, Tawakkol mentions it as well. It’s widely agreed, management of the information environment in the service of humanity cannot happen without them, without the tech sector. Regulators, research scientists need, they need access to their algorithms and the data to understand where the opportunities are. Yet, you’ve kind of alluded to this, the tech companies with their army of lobbyists have managed to resist these efforts to secure access to the back end, which you just have got to have in order to understand how to tackle this problem. How do we break this stalemate?

Sanjiv Ahuja (57:18):

Well, end of the day, every business has a set of stakeholders. We talked about shareholders earlier. They’re looking at, and every chief executive’s primary goal is value creation. But it does have other stakeholders, and one of those is the civic society, the consumers. I don’t think, and this is going to sound harsh, all the people that are here, academ- … on businesses that are creating the content, are disseminating the content. Unless that happens, they will not step up because they don’t see a necessity to step up. Now, all the algorithms, we talk of transparency base, not at too many levels, but fundamentally at two levels. One of those is the data sets that they use for learning and disseminating the information, right? And algorithms they use. Now, some of those are competitive, but a lot of those algorithms and the dataset, they should be made public, but there is not enough pressure on it. The information they’re collecting is off the civic society. Why isn’t the society stepping up and saying, “you’re collecting information on me. Tell me, what are the algorithms you’re using? What is the data set you’re collecting about me?” And I think a light regulation needs to be created, and I agree, the lobbyist and others obviously get in the way and this is how our system works. The civic society needs to step up, academics need to step up, and need to put a lot more pressure than we are putting today. A data that shocks the heck out of me, and I don’t think, we as a society don’t pay attention. People born between 1990 and 2010, 42% of the youth has mental health challenges. Does that have anything to do with social media? I don’t know. I don’t think the scientist can correlate that unless you know what data, how it is being disseminated, what information is being disseminated. the problems that it’s causing is at many levels, civil unrest, social unrest. There are benefits, I’m not saying there aren’t benefits of that, but it requires a lot more transparency and it’s little bit of light regulation and a lot of civic society pressure. That’s the only way it’ll get resolved.

Sheldon Himelfarb (59:56):

Well, I think you’re saying we need more activism for civil society to put that kind of pressure on both the technology companies, because as I said, the regulators and the legislators have so far failed to do that. Which I think is a good segue to you John. When Sanjiv tees up civil society, you’ve been a communications pioneer in Nigeria, building the largest independent broadcaster in the country, also been on several commissions and working groups to ensure a durable peace in Nigeria, especially during volatile times like the election that’s just been held. this election I think is fair to say was relatively peaceful when you look across the history of elections in Nigeria, especially considering the soaring rates of unemployment, and inflation and so forth. at the same time, we heard about massive efforts to use mis and disinformation during the election. Let me ask you to take us behind the scenes and help us understand the kind of collaboration that there was during this very volatile, potentially dangerous election. Tell us about the collaboration across Nigerian civil society and with government that enabled you to cope with the mis and disinformation during the election.

John Momoh (01:01:30):

Thank you, Sheldon. It’s good to be here sharing this hall with you all. Let me set some numbers as a backdrop. Nigeria is a country of 200 million people, 206 to be precise, and it’s growing. Inflation is all time high at 22% and it’s growing. The youthful population is about 60% and it’s growing. Unemployment is about 45%, and it’s growing. Now, before the elections, we had issues of fuel scarcity, issues with security, and government introduced a policy of redesigning of the local currency, which created a problem for businesses and for citizens. When the elections were about to be held, there was a lot of tension in the air and people were really not happy with the past leaders and they wanted a change. There was a man who symbolized the kind of person they wanted to lead the nation. The prognosis was that the elections, it was going to be fractured, there was going to be a lot of problems. What happened? Social media was a go, and you have a lot of disinformation coming from everywhere.

It seemed as if everyone was confused, but civil society stepped up to the plate and tried to first of all, collaborate with government to see how they can bring about security, collaborate with the media. We were in the forefront for that because we had to work with them in how to report the elections and make sure that when the results had been announced, that we would have a… There was a system that was introduced called the BVAS and the [inaudible 01:03:34], the election reporting system, so that people will see the transparency in this election. Alas, what happened was that the electoral body did not transmit the result as it was expected. Then the result held, then you have two days after the elections, as the results were being collected, there was the news making rounds in social media that a former president had stormed the collection center with the correct results, and that the results to be announced were fake.

That was a problem. Now the citizens, some of them, the supporters of this candidate who they had hopes on were expecting us to report that. We didn’t because… And then we came under attack by the fact that we were supporting the government. The opposition was accusing us and the government itself was accusing us of supporting opposition. the good thing about it was that the civil society really, really stepped up to the plate. They made sure that the collaboration amongst themselves, with the media, with the government, with the security agents sort of tempered everything. We had an election that even though we had skirmishes here and there, it seemed to be better than the previous elections. What this means is that there’s need for more collaboration amongst everyone, and that held sway in the Nigerian elections. Even though most people don’t still believe in the government, the one who has now been elected, in fact the user was selected because they don’t trust the electoral body. That was as a result of the kind of images and the postings that you see on social media. What we now have is country that is fractured. I dare say that it’s a kind of copycat because to see what’s happened in the United States, which was

John Momoh (01:06:00):

… is also transposed to Brazil, and so they’re trying to see how they can do the same in Nigeria. But the collaboration was very key. We did our own part. We were under a lot of pressure from even the regulators. We were fined a couple of times for trying to hold some people to account, and this is how we’ve been working so we’re very used to this kind of pressures from government, from the social media. And a lot of our websites, the website was cloned and stories sent out, purportedly written by Channels Television. In this case, we had to work with Google to make sure that a lot of the sites were taken down. It was very tough.

Sheldon Himelfarb (01:06:52):

So John, help us learn from this. Was there a driving force among all of the players? Was there a driving force for that amount of collaboration that occurred to keep the mis and disinformation as best you could, keep it down as best you could, keep the violence down as best you could. Was there a driving force in this?

John Momoh (01:07:16):

At the risk of sounding immodest, I belong to the National Peace Committee so it was my responsibility to make sure that we work with the civil society and try to see how we can bring them together, so we play our own part. So I dare say that’s one driving force that was introduced to it, but the civil society themselves were very instrumental to these themselves. They took this upon themselves. They wanted a country that will hold the best elections ever. It has been a very good election. There have been surprises, but of course there was skirmishes here and there, but if you compare them to the elections that were held previously, this could go better than what we had before.

Sheldon Himelfarb (01:08:07):

I’m mindful of time. I’m mindful we’re in our last five minutes, but I’ve got… Well, I only have in the last five minutes about 90 questions for you all. Melissa, I want to come back to you because I want us to bring back to science a little bit here, given the fact that we are in the National Academy of Sciences and what we’ve been talking about. The UN, you’ve heard a lot of discussion yesterday, not just from our announcement of the launch of the international panel for the information environment, but also from so many other people that pointed to the IPCC as a model.

Melissa Fleming (01:08:41):


Sheldon Himelfarb (01:08:41):

IPCC is a UN organization.

Melissa Fleming (01:08:44):


Sheldon Himelfarb (01:08:45):

Do you think that’s where the UN should be going now to achieve collaboration on this?

Melissa Fleming (01:08:51):

Well, we’ll collaborate with you. You’re creating the model.

Sheldon Himelfarb (01:08:58):


Melissa Fleming (01:08:58):

Yeah. I think the IPCC is an incredible model. It was the initiative of two UN agencies – the UN Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization – a couple of decades ago actually. And it really is an incredible… It was visionary to bring together, and even with the involvement of governments to a certain extent, although the scientists need to be selected by the IPCC secretary, but what comes out in their reports is what is always called in the reporting consensus science. And to have consensus science around climate change that is not just cooked up in one part of the world, which is where usually, we see the reports, either from the US or from Europe and forgetting and neglecting the rest of the world. This is incredibly powerful. It’s very difficult, although there are many, many attempts, and we’re seeing that climate disinformation is growing actually and there’s relentless efforts, and millions, if not a billion. I think Eileen from the Rockefeller Foundation just told me some incredible sum of the money that is being poured in to distort the IPCC findings. But imagine if we didn’t have the IPCC. Imagine if we didn’t have this group of scientists around the world, not just saying climate change is real but putting it out in pages and pages that you can go and look. It’s transparent. It’s for everybody to see and to read and I think we’re getting better at communicating it.

So I do think, and I know you wanted to ask as well, but why are we moving so slow if we have this consensus science from this incredible organization? I think that we would be moving slower if we didn’t have it because it is putting pressure on governments and it is making climate change undeniable.

Sheldon Himelfarb (01:11:18):

I’m really sorry we don’t have more time. I’m going to close though with a tough one for you, Sanjeev, because every time I talk with you, you’re always like, ” Sheldon, this is the way it works in the real world. This is how it works in India. This is how it works in China.” This is how it works in the many, many places where you have put down cell phone towers. So you talked about putting pressure through civil society. I don’t know, we heard a lot about authoritarian regimes from Tawakol. The pressure’s really different in that situation.

We’ve heard the specific situation in Nigeria where in fact, I’ve worked a lot in Africa but in South Sudan, the problem is as much coming from outside the country as it is inside the country, diaspora injecting themselves with hate speech into the conversation that results in people being killed in country. So the regimes, the national governments then have to take some sort of action and you talked about how government action is critical. Sanjeev, if you look 10 years down the road, knowing what you know about the communications infrastructure that you have helped to build, there’s a lot of discussion about the inevitability of a splinter net where countries put up their firewalls and that’s how they create a check on myths and disinformation and security. I think it’s very unfortunate, but what do you think?

Sanjiv Ahuja (01:13:00):

Yeah, this is in two seconds?

Sheldon Himelfarb (01:13:02):

No. Take your time.

Sanjiv Ahuja (01:13:05):

No. So I won’t take very long.

Sheldon Himelfarb (01:13:06):

These guys in the beginning, they gobbled up our time so take your time.

Sanjiv Ahuja (01:13:08):

No, no. The schedule integrity is critical usually to me. I think the overall challenges that are facing us are accelerating at truly an exponential rate. You will see totalitarian regimes, and we didn’t touch the impact of AI on all of this. Today, you say let’s educate people and they can distinguish between true information and misinformation. Okay. AI will make that gap very, very narrow, maybe even eliminate it to a human perception. So what are the algorithms we can create – that’s a question on science – that truly classify and aid human beings in distinguishing between facts and generated facts? Because the truth can be altered and it’s a perception of the truth. So that’s where science comes in. Authoritarian regimes and at the government level, you will see a lot of facts being recreated and regenerated. And in those closed systems, the facts will look very different than the true facts, whatever the true facts are.

This is where the technology, businesses, governments, and civil society cooperation becomes very critical. Can we break down… And we heard about what happened in the Middle East and all the benefits. The governments, if they just shut down the internet, stop the communication, none of this would happen. Cut down the cellular networks, very simple. So there’ll be regimes that’ll create their own version of it and we can’t stop that, but in the open societies, we should be creating the norms, we should be creating the regulation, and we should above all write regulation, enough civil society pressure for demanding openness of the data and the algorithms. And there is a limit where it goes to the competitive stuff, but beyond that, unless that transparency is there, the problem at all levels will get much worse, and unlike environment, unlike anything else, we don’t have much time. We can’t wait for a decade. You say go out in a decade. Unless we really start putting some fixes in, all kind of issues will be much worse than where they are today.

Sheldon Himelfarb (01:16:12):

Well, please thank this marvelous panel. I said at the outset we weren’t going to solve the problem, but I do think we’ve teed up a lot of the questions that have to be answered. Thank you very much, and thank you Tawakol for helping us as well.

Maya (01:16:32):

Thank you very much to our great panelists, and I think that this call for we don’t have much time, it’s important, because indeed, what is happening in the world, totalitarians are taking over our democracies. Britain, just recently, there was a great investigation journalism of Team Jorge, a company that for $1 million were offering the services to change the elections. And that’s one of the companies that’s already revealed but companies like that are out there, and it’s very much on us to make a change. And I loved what Melissa Flemington said about the 18th SDG on information integrity. I believe we very much need that.

Amri Price (01:17:21):

Yeah, indeed. There are a lot of lessons we can take here and one of the benefits of having these amazing individuals here is that we can act much more quickly together in community. And we have the next panel coming up. We’ll move right along to welcome them on stage. We have quite a few people so I’ll read out the names and tell you who they are. So we have Paul Romer, the economics Nobel Laureate for 2018. We have Rachel Glennerster, associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago. We have Eileen O’Connor, senior vice president of strategic communications and policy at the Rockefeller Foundation. We have Sylvia Briand I believe joining us online, director of Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention at the WHO Emergency Program. Alonzo Plough, vice president of research and evaluation and chief science officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

And please come on stage, and we have-

Maya (01:18:27):

Let’s welcome the panel.

Amri Price (01:18:28):

Yes, indeed. Please welcome the panelist, and we have our moderator, Abdul El-Sayed, a communicator and policymaker. Please join us.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:18:47):

All right. Good morning. Y’all, let’s not take ourselves so seriously. Good morning.

Speaker 6 (01:18:53):

Good morning.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:18:54):

All right. Fantastic. It’s going to be a fantastic conversation.

Speaker 5 (01:18:57):

Your mic is off, please. Mic on.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:19:03):

I’m not going to yell that loud with the mic on, but good morning to everybody. Just really excited to be here with an incredible panel. We only have about 40 minutes and the juice is here, so I’m going to let them get to squeezing it. But just as a matter of course, we’ve got a group that represents a number of different perspectives on an issue that has become a foundational issue of our time. I just want to put a bit of perspective on this. I don’t have to tell you all this. We just lived through a global pandemic, three years being held hostage by a virus, but not just by a virus, by our incapacity to share a narrative about what that virus is, what it was, and how to address it. And in some respects, we can say that science saved us, and then in others, we can also say that our failure to communicate science on its own terms held back that capacity. And today, I want to talk a little bit about not just the conversation that we’ve had about science but the conversation we have to have about science. In some respects, science tells us what we ought to do, but we don’t really talk as much about how to talk about what we ought to do, about the how and the why of that discussion. So we’ve got an incredible group of folks. You heard their quick introductions but I just want to offer a little bit of context for each of them. Dr. Alonzo Plough is with the RWJ Foundation. He has a history as a public health commissioner, which is what my day job is so if I keep coming to Dr. Plough, it’s not bias. And then we have Eileen O’Connor, who has spent a long career in public communications. She’s with the Rockefeller Foundation. We’ve got our Nobel Laureate professor, Paul Romer, who thinks a lot about the way that people coming together changes society through technology but also through the public conversation we share.

We’ve got Professor Rachel Glennerster. She is professor of economics at the University of Chicago, who thinks a lot about leveraging the evidence about how we talk about science in public health to help us talk about it better. And then we’ve got, of course, Commissioner Robert Califf who leads the Food and Drug Association, and if you haven’t heard, they think a lot about public communications about science. And then of course, we’ve got Professor Sylvie Briand who is with us from the WHO, and in her role, she thinks quite a bit about public communications on a global scale.

So I just want to jump in and just ask a simple question. What has changed? Because I think for a lot of us, pre-pandemic, we had thought that there was a particular script about what we would say and what we would do in the context of the pandemic. It turned out that that script was just completely off. And I want to start with you, Commissioner Califf. You think about this in your public work every day. How should we be thinking about public communications, vis-a-vis what we’ve learned in the pandemic? How has it changed the way that you do your job? You’ve had this job twice – once before the pandemic, once after the pandemic – and just in the spirit of science, that is a very nice case control, n of 1 case control study. So what have you learned in your n of 1 case control study here?

Commissioner Califf (01:22:21):

Yeah, I was hoping I would learn what to do from these experts, but what I’d say is that the fundamentals of human nature and communication in my view haven’t changed at all. I actually have slides of… There actually were snake oil salesmen in the early days of the FDS who, it turns out, they were actually selling fish oil, which may not have been so bad after all, and people have been susceptible to that sort of chicanery as long as history. What’s changed is the ubiquity of communication enabled by the internet. I think that’s kind of obvious. So snake oil salesman of the past would have to advertise in magazines or doctor’s offices. Now, you have access to billions of people within 10 minutes on the internet who, as the previous panel showed, increasingly, an average person couldn’t tell the difference between an expert and a non-expert view.

So the other thing that’s clearly changed, particularly in the US, is confidence in our institutions. So things that we used to take for granted, if the FDA says it, the majority of people will believe it may not be true at this point. And so for me, it’s meant that we have to think about, given our limit and we have a Congress which in some cases is opposed to us communicating. If you look at the markups of our budget that are happening right now, you’ll see very specific prohibitions against communicating. So we have to think about the nugget that we can get out and then how it interacts with what I hope will be a network exemplified by this meeting of people who are dedicating some of their time every day to transmitting reliable, useful information, because we know that most people make their decisions ultimately on the human interactions that they have.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:24:20):

You mentioned something I think really profound, which is that the challenge of snake oil salesmanship or fish oil salesmanship is not new, and the average age of this panel is probably about 29 but I may have been the only person who grew up with internet in my home as a child. And the thing about that is that it opened the curtain on the conversation that is often shared before unilateral communication happens from some communicator to the public, and that to me creates a complexity in the ways that networks are shared and the part of the conversation that the public has felt all of us didn’t want you to hear.

And in your work, Professor Romer, you’ve thought a lot about network effects, how it is that groups of people come together to change something, and it’s social network, social media is the ultimate network effect for better or for ill. I’d love to hear your reflections about the nature of social media as you think about it as either a purveyor, as we heard in the last panel from Tawakol, as either a purveyor of more information that enables action for good or its capacity to boil our public conversation down to some odd metric of clout that lives in all of our minds. I’d love your perspective on that.

Professor Romer (01:25:48):

Well, one of the most important lessons from economics is that when people come together and pursue self-interest, sometimes that leads to good outcomes in a sense, the so-called invisible hand result, but very often it does not. And so as a society, we need to act through our main mechanism, which is our government. Civil society, nonprofits too, but we need to act through our government to structure the collective interactions so we get outcomes that are good, not outcomes that are bad. We need to stop apologizing, like, “I’m not a fan of regulation.” Regulation is law. It’s the only thing that protects us from the abyss. Like banning chlorofluorocarbons, are you against that kind of regulation? So we’ve got to stop thinking of the government as somebody else. It acts for us. We’ve got to decide what we want.

Now, in terms of social media specifically, I think the first question we should ask, because we’re scientists, we’re not preachers, the first question we should ask is if the book was good, why has the internet been bad? And I mean that seriously. I think the internet has been bad, but we need to think carefully about what’s different about this second form of making communication much, much easier? That’s the first thing. The second thing, we need to avoid this temptation to go down the trap of appealing to a notion of good guys and bad guys. It just clouds our thinking. I think the first episode we should really understand about disinformation was the two former FDA employees, Krause and Gruber, who were authors on the Lancet article which attacked the administration’s plan for providing boosters. And the first question we need to ask about that is what’s our best estimate of how many people they killed? Then when we have an estimate of that number, let’s try and ask, what were the incentives that led them to take a position that had no grounding in the science?

The article is a mess. It’s completely irrational, and what it represents is an illustration of negative attention-getting behavior, which has become very prominent because social media rewards it, and I think it poses a very serious threat to science, the best thing humans have ever done. So when historians look back, they’ll say, “Well, Babylonian math, it was there for a while, and then the scientific revolution, it had 300 years but too bad it fell apart.” That’s what’s at stake right now, and if we can’t understand trust and incentives and the mechanisms that help us uncover the truth, we’ve got a more serious problem than global warming on our hands.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:28:59):

I really appreciate that perspective, and Eileen, you’ve been thinking about public communication for some time. And you’re in this interesting perch where not only are you thinking about communication day to day, but you’re also in a position to be supporting funding for projects that help us think about it better. If you had to give us some insight about what we need to understand and what needs to be taught to those of us who think about and talk about science, and particularly science that has immediate ramifications for the choices that we make day to day.

We could talk about astronomy all day but very little we do is going to change the course of the stars. It is really fantastically fascinating. But then there’s the science of the question of, all right, so I have a decision to make about whether or not I am going to put a chemical in my baby’s body, and the implications of that choice are substantially more imminent but also feel a lot more emotional. So how do you think about both in your day-to-day, how we ought to be communicating, but then also what do we need to know? What don’t we know? What are the gaps in our knowledge about how to do this well?

Eileen O’Connor (01:30:06):

Well, I think you just hit on something really key in the question – emotional. That is what social media and what Dr. Roman was talking about, is that’s how social media makes money. Their algorithms, we do know a lot about their algorithms actually. We know that their algorithms actually favor emotional… People click on emotion. And mostly, we know from psychologists, from researchers and universities I’m sure that are in this audience, that psychologically, the fight or flight reflex is very strong and so what happens is things that create fear, things that create us and them issues and emotion is what people will click on. The algorithms then favor that. That information is going to get in front of more and more eyeballs and that is going to then become believed, because propaganda, we also know, the more you say it, the more people that will ultimately think it’s true because more and more people are saying it.

Social media is also putting people, and the algorithms are, in information silos. And that also makes them more tribal, which also makes them actually, and the research shows this, even if they’re confronted and highly educated, they will actually use and pick facts that will actually agree with the more emotional argument or support that emotional argument. So what happened in COVID? We realized that this kind of information ecosystem kills people. It was killing people. We worked very closely, the Rockefeller Foundation, with Dr. Romer on trying to get tests to millions of people because we all know, and you all know as scientists, the data is the way to stop a pandemic. If you have the data, you know who to basically isolate, you know where to put your resources, who really needs ventilators. And then you also know in terms of vaccination, we use data to figure out where do we need to get those vaccines the fastest, the quickest and out there? The vulnerable populations, et cetera.

But we had politicians saying the more tests you have, the more cases you have, which is absurd. It’s the complete opposite. But that was politically motivated, it was emotionally motivated, and unfortunately, it took hold. And the same thing with vaccinations. So I think you asked originally, what’s changed? What’s changed is definitely the ubiquity of communications. What’s also changed is the monetization of information and basically making money off of people’s clicks and making money off of what they see. So I actually think that what we should invest in and have the social media companies do, and part of the regulation, that we should be investing in algorithms that advantage facts and dispassionate facts and objective facts over emotion. And if we can do that, then we can have differences over policy, we can have arguments over norms, but you cannot have a normative argument really, a good one, and a good policy argument unless you agree on the objective facts.

So the one thing that we’ve done, the Rockefeller Foundation, and thankfully, Robert Wood Johnson has joined us in this effort. We invested a significant amount of money in the Mercury Project, because we wanted to basically arm public health officials and people in communities with ways to counteract misinformation, ways to figure out how do you influence those influencers inside those communication silos? And we found we did an equitable vaccination initiative in five different cities in the United States, mostly in minority communities, because we understood that there was a lot of fear, legitimately because of history, about taking the vaccination. And so one of the things we did is we really figured out, who are those trusted voices within a community?

And so what’s interesting is the more technical we get with information, the more technology has advanced information, we’re finding that actually, in some ways, you’ve got to really go down to the local level to actually counteract the misinformation. And so that’s what we’ve been investing in, is how do we actually… And so the Mercury Project has been funding researchers all over the world on finding those solutions, those tools that people can get to get people to trust facts.

COVID was the beginning. Climate change is something our foundation is totally focusing on now, and we’re seeing that this is having huge effects, the misinformation. And Melissa referenced it, fossil fuel companies are spending billions of dollars, at least 3 billion, on their advertising, et cetera, and so far, philanthropy is about 125 million on this.

Professor Romer (01:34:58):

Sorry, let me just pile on here. I think Eileen is exactly right, and we also know a lot more than we’re willing to admit. The reason these companies behave the way they do, they try and stir up engagement, they try and stir up anger, they stir up emotion, is because their business model, targeted digital advertising, rewards those activities. If we want to stop this, we need to stop a model where third parties pay to manipulate the information that people see and go back to the way the market used to work where people pay for something and then get something in return. We could pass the taxes that just shut this model down and we need to get serious about that.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:35:54):

There are a couple really great points that you all surfaced. One is the fact that increasingly, our public conversation is intermediated by a series of corporations who make a lot of money stealing our eyeball and eardrum time, and our ability to regulate it unfortunately sits with a body, as Dr. Califf ironically brought up, don’t want to kill your budget here, that may not fully appreciate exactly the point that you made, that this is not the business model of yore and we really need to be either adjusting the way we think about regulation or coming to grips with what this actually means.

The other point that you brought up, which I really appreciated, was the fact that social media has democratized our conversation in a pretty important but also pretty dangerous way. So one of the interesting features of the public conversation on social media during the pandemic was that you had people who spent their entire lives thinking about pandemic preparedness who have an MD behind their name or a PhD behind their name, and then you have people who are ankle surgeons in some random town in Florida who also have an MD behind their name. And all of them would take to social media and they would demonstrate the truth of the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is this odd relationship between how much you know and how much confidence you have in what you know, where you have this U-shaped curve where you all of a sudden, you have a ton of confidence the minute you read an article and it takes you a long time to recognize that you actually don’t know what you’re talking about, even if you’ve gone to medical school and did one month of population health, not that I’m bitter at all.

But I want to bring you in here, Dr. Briand. Your work is about thinking about how we talk about this in this new information environment, but what’s really fascinating about your role, when I talk about public health, I’m talking to 1.2 million people or 1.8 million people who live in my county and there is a caliper around the sets of experiences that they might have and a lot that they share. You’ve got to think about it on a global scale, so how have you thought about the way that the WHO ought to be communicating in this moment? What do you feel like you guys got right? And then what do you feel like you got wrong?

Dr Sylvie Briand (01:38:24):

Thanks a lot for the invitation and also for the very important question. And indeed, for us, the pandemic has been very challenging because it’s a global world, and as you said, it’s a new information ecosystem. And so what we noticed is that now, the information spread faster and further, and really, the entire world is interconnected. So it’s very difficult to manage information, and misinformation in particular, in this interconnected work.

Dr Sylvie Briand (01:39:00):

What we see that people, especially during epidemics and pandemics, are completely overwhelmed with information and this other abundance of information, we call it info-demic because it’s very noisy. And people don’t know who to believe. They are confused. And so ultimately, they will make choice, and they will go to people or places where they think they will find trusted information.

And we need to better understand really how and why people share information including misinformation. And we are still at the beginning of this understanding in this new information ecosystem. And that’s why social science and behavioral science are really useful for that.

But what we have noticed is that in this very noisy world, what is really difficult is that when people have question and concern, if they go to trusted sources, and if those trusted source sources such as, for example, public health authorities, are not providing the right information at the right time and in the right format, people then will go to see other sources.

And so I think this is why, what we learned during this pandemic, is what should come first is really listening. We need to listen much more. And I think now the technology that can be have a good and bad effect. As also I think we can use also the technology and in particular the artificial intelligence to develop better social listening tools that enable health authorities to know in the real time what are the people question and concerns, so that they can really answer their question and concern at the right time with the right information.

And I think for us, so we have developed a tool like that. It’s a social media listening platform that is available in 15 languages and in 35 countries. And it’s called Ears, E-A-R-S, and you can find it online. And it’s the start, I think. But with this we can monitor not only the question of people and their concerns, but also if there are variation between genders and between countries, of course. And also we can also monitor the sentiment of people if they are anxious, angry, or happy with the information they receive. So I think we should promote social and behavioral science, but also new tools to understand this new information ecosystem of the 21st century.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:41:45):

I love that. Professor Plough, you come from a background in local public health. You’ve been somebody who’s on the cusp of having to communicate in real time, being exactly one of those folks. Now you’re at RWJ and you funded an investment in the Mercury Project. Can you talk a little bit about how that translational information, that translational science, almost, of how we talk about what we know could have informed the work that you would have done back when you were a health commissioner?

Speaker 7 (01:42:18):

It could have informed it greatly. You started this out around what has changed. But I will say, what has remained the same? This is a look back from 25 years in public health practice. What has remained the same is that we have a really difficult time sort of when science communication has to go retail, when science hits the streets. We really do not have a way of understanding how to communicate at that level. And I think that this continues.

I also think what we’ve learned I think in public health practice and certainly reflected in some of our funding priorities, is that we have to consider the misinformation and the disinformation context as a social determinant of health. And those of you who do this work and are social epidemiologists realize this is as important determinant of health as housing, water, and everything else. I’ll just keep my epidemiologist hat on. Operates in two ways, right?

It’s both a classic contagion like an infectious epidemiology. It’s viral. But it’s also a chronic thing like toxic exposure. And you see both of those chronic and acute aspects of disinformation happening at the same time. We are co-funders of this project, a lot of other work. You heard Kathleen Hall Jameson’s presentation yesterday. We’re important funder of her work. And she’s actually working with her colleagues on what does it mean to do predictive models in systems interventions, to think about misinformation and disinformation as a social determinant.

But I learned a lot, actually, during the pandemic and some of the public communication we were doing. My boss, our CEO, Rich Besser, did a great job with Wolf Blitzer and that audience. I work the other shift with local Fox affiliates and talk radio in the Midwest, in the South. And that’s where I learned where we have to look at both this sort of acute problem that was happening with misinformation around COVID and this broader context of disinformation about many, many other things, that it eroded trust and fragmented people.

And listening to that and trying to use my science but also my person hat to try to communicate effectively in those environments. I think that’s the challenge we have. And I think that came out in the opening remarks as well, that we have to understand how we can articulate our science in a way that is more deeply understood and in a way that respects the complimentary knowledge of communities.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:45:05):

I really appreciate that. One of the hard parts about academic training, generally, is that you’re taught to ask what we don’t know. And so there’s a lot of admiration for the problem in most academic institutions. And we’re less interested in what we know because, of course, that’s not the next research question. And so what tends to happen is we’re taught to talk about what we don’t know in glowing, admirable detail and what we know is like, yeah, we already know that it’s not interesting. Except for, that’s kind of what matters. And Professor Glennerster, you’re taking that and thankfully flipping it back on its head. You’ve done some really interesting work in Burkina Faso. I’d love for you to share that.

Speaker 8 (01:45:51):

Great. Thank you and thanks everyone and want to say I’m a grantee of the Mercury Project, so thank you to the funders too. So yeah, I want to start by just saying there’s a lot of science on how to communicate science. As economists, we run a lot, and other social scientists, we run a lot of randomized control trials where we provide information in one way to some people and another way to other people, and we observe who changes their behavior.

And the work that I’ve been doing in West Africa draws on that huge body of science on how to communicate information, of what leads to changes in behavior. So what do we know? What have we learned through that long history? Well, we’ve learned that you want to provide information that fills information gaps. That sounds obvious, but actually a lot of public health campaigns don’t do that. They don’t first ask, what do people not know? What do they want to know? And it’s great to hear that WHO’s working on that.

We know that information should be actionable. It should be information you can actually respond to. I was in Sierra Leone in the Ebola epidemic when the emergency was proclaimed. And there was the WHO, I’m afraid in that time, the information coming out was terrible. It missed everything we know about how to provide information. And it didn’t tell people how to prevent getting Ebola. That’s what people wanted to know about.

We know that you need it from a trusted source. People have said that. And entertainment and humor and emotion can make you more likely to believe something. So what we did is we worked with Development Media International, a media company that draws on the science of information to design a campaign, a radio campaign, about family planning, which is an area that has long had misinformation way before COVID.

People were worrying about that you would become infertile if you used family planning. So they produced this campaign based on the science of how to persuade people. And we randomized by radio station, some radio stations got the campaign, some didn’t. And we also provided radios to women who didn’t have radios. And we randomized that. So we had two entirely independent sources of information about whether this campaign was working.

And what we found was when you base the campaign on the science, we had very big changes in people’s understanding of contraception. It was able to change people’s views about this misinformation that’d been in these communities for a long time. Those actually changed and women who didn’t want to get pregnant started using contraception. So I’m here to provide the hope in the panel. That we can change, shift these behaviors and shift these views of these long-held misperceptions about science. But we have to follow the science of how to convey science.

Eileen O’Connor (01:49:09):

Can I just add onto that? One of the things that we focused in on the Mercury project when we wanted to fund a project like this was to say, “There is a lot of research already, and so please, please let’s do things that we can apply and apply quickly.” Because I agree with Sanjay, time is running out. Artificial intelligence and deep fakes are already here.

And we have to figure out what is it that we want as societies. And I think these businesses have to also look down the road and say what is it that they want in societies. We’re working on climate change as well. We get from business that investments in energy transition or other things, “That it doesn’t fit our risk matrix.” And I keep saying, “This is a unique situation. You have a freight train coming at you, you don’t have the time to de-risk this. You got to do it because the risk that we don’t do something now is that your investments won’t exist. We won’t exist.”

And I think the issue is, is that the businesses that Paul talks about and Dr. Romer talks about is that the businesses, we have to all as a society take collective action. And he’s talked about this, to figure out what is it that we want at the end of the day? And those businesses have to join us. Do we want a free society? Do we want a free market? Because right now, this information system is destroying both of those things.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:50:39):

I really appreciate that point. And one of the pieces that’s implicit in what both of you just shared is about trust. And I want to turn to you, Dr. Kaliff, because you work for the government and you regulate big pharma. You sit between two sets of institutions that don’t have much trust.

And I want to ask you, what does it take to actually build public trust? Because I find myself in a lot of situations critiquing the pharmaceutical industry, justifiably so. And then a lot of the audience that I talk to will say, “Well, how can you trust big pharma when they’re the ones making these vaccines?”

And it’s interesting because trust gets flattened. There’s no nuance on social media. It’s like bad or good, versus well, this part of it, I appreciate. This part of it, I don’t. I would say that we don’t have enough vaccines. That’s really the issue.

So how do you think about trust in your role, and what would it take to rebuild that from where you sit? When you think about the next moment you’re out of your role, what would it take to really make that investment to get trust to a level where the next time something like this happens, we’ve softened the ground for the kind of message about mass vaccination?

Commissioner Califf (01:51:54):

Oh, boy. Well, first of all, I feel like in this discussion, I need to acknowledge that between my two FDA stints I worked at Alphabet. And so I feel like I have a very deep understanding of much of what you all are talking about. And these entities which we regarded as good or bad, I appreciate Professor Romer’s comment about, it’s not just good guys and bad guys.

All these companies are full of really good people who are working in a machine which is producing the wrong outcome, and it’s very hard to change. So I’m very serious when I say, the first principle is, if you want to be trusted, act trustworthy.

But beyond that, I really seriously believe it’s beyond the point where government alone can build trust in government. It’s got to be on people that are scientists, clinicians, academicians. If they don’t spend part of their day every day working on this building trust as a community where expertise is valued and information that’s reliable is promoted, I don’t see a way out of the box.

Again, if you just look at the amount of money we have for communication at the FDA, it’s up against this thing that you all have described and that I’ve lived in. It’s so much bigger than we are. It’s going to take… So I’m glad. Probably the most important thing, I hope meetings like this actually lead to action in a reasonable period of time.

Speaker 7 (01:53:24):

If I could just jump in on this community point, it’s so important it starts there. Because much of what the disinformation and misinformation has done has eroded even the problem of difficulty of trust in certain historically marginalized communities, who have a lot of historical reasons not to be trustful.

When you take that and you amplify it with targeted to those communities, misinformation and disinformation, which is exactly what happened with COVID, you just exacerbate an already bad situation, which makes it even worse in terms of the basically lack of trust in the community and the trust of the institutions. I’ll just speak from the public health side.

So we’re funding a lot of work that’s trying to do that deeper consistent community connection because I just know this as a former public health practitioner. You just cannot drop in with your data in the midst of an outbreak and then say, “Trust me, because we are here now.” There has got to have been other kinds of sustained engagement, or it’s not going to work as well. And so I think that community-up component of building trust, and I would say another iteration of how we think about the public communication of science is needed.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:54:42):

Professor Romer, I see you there. Before you comment, I want to ask you also, I’d love to hear your perspective on the way AI is going to complement this or complicate this. We’re in a situation now where all of these language learning models, they learn on everything that’s been said, correct or not correct. And the level of information that is now going to be AI generated information off of old potentially incorrect information is pretty mind-boggling when you think about it. So, please.

Professor Romer (01:55:12):

So first, AI. I’ve used OpenAI’s tools for coding. It’s available through GitHub. It’s called Copilot. It’s crap. Why is there so much buzz about crap? Ask yourself, do you believe Sam Altman? Do you trust what Sam Altman says? The head of OpenAI? If you do, look at how Sam described the glitch where they had a problem with their software and disclosed a bunch of identifying personal information. Look at how dishonest his answer was about what caused that glitch. And then decide, do I really want to pay attention to somebody who’s revealed that he’s not committed to integrity and honesty?

Then extrapolate from that. We can only trust people. You can’t trust code, you can’t trust organizations. The only object of trust is people. One of the problems in this digital world is we do not know who the people are on the other side. There’s no way for somebody like me to actually prove to you that it’s me giving a message. You’re going to probably put this on YouTube. You’re obviously on Twitter. I don’t think you should be on either. But you’ll put it on YouTube.

Listen, you could manipulate this video and have me saying, “Twitter is great.” The software exists to do all of this stuff. So how are you going to know if you’re watching the video of what I say here, if it was actually what I said? We have a really serious problem, and AI is just going to generate a whole bunch of stuff where we don’t know who is behind it. Who’s the person? Can I trust them?What we need to address is this fundamental piece of infrastructure of digital authenticity. How do I know who’s the person who’s behind this?

This is a solved problem in cryptography. There’s a system called digital signatures, but we just haven’t taken the trouble to implement it. And we need to focus on that and make that possible. And I think this is critical for protecting science because it’s our individual reputations and our deep concern that we don’t want to be revealed as somebody who’s not reliable that makes us better than we are. We try really hard to tell the truth and not make mistakes because our reputation matters. You can’t have reputations if you don’t know who’s feeding you stuff.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:57:53):

I really appreciate that. And let it be known that Nobel laureate Paul Romer pulls no punches. So with that, I’m getting the red light here, and it’s ferociously counting down against me. One of the things that-

Commissioner Califf (01:58:09):

Sorry, could I just say one other thing? Sorry, sorry. Listen. There’s nobody else right now who’s not afraid of Sam. Sam’s too rich, he’s too powerful. And so nobody in the tech world is going to say… His answer about their problem was just completely dishonest. So we in the scientific community are unusual because we can actually speak up and we need to do it. And we need to talk about, we shouldn’t be on Twitter. We need to talk about people who are being dishonest. We need to talk about fraud.

As long as we’re throwing out [inaudible 01:58:43], let me just say one thing real quick and if you ask me who’s most delinquent right now, who ought to be speaking up more and have more courage, it’s universities and academic centers. They’re very privileged. They ought to be on top of this. And I’ve, a half a dozen times in the last 24 hours, by faculty, that they’ve been told not to talk about things because it would affect the bottom line of the university. Because the boards of trustees, and this is a very privileged position. If these people don’t have courage, I just argue we’re in big trouble.

Abdul El-Sayed (01:59:19):

On that note, I’m so sorry, I really do have to bring us to a close. These are really, really important points, and I do hope that every single one of you will find these folks because I know they’ve got so much more to pour in.

I want focus on one last point to leave you with. The point of universities and colleges. We teach science, but we don’t teach scientists how to communicate. And the hard part about that is, I host a podcast called America Dissected. We did a season and then the pandemic hit, and so we extended to talk about the pandemic. And then the question happened, do we keep this podcast going? And the insight was, now we’re not talking about the pandemic because the pandemic’s not gaining the amount of attention that we’d like it to, so we should probably shut it down.

Here’s the problem. If we are not consistently teaching science and teaching scientists to teach science to the broader public, we will find ourselves back in this situation. What I love about this panel is that they are committed to that fundamental science communication.

The last point I’ll leave you with is this. It’s not enough to say your truth. In a world where eyeballs and eardrums are the most precious commodity being traded every single day, you’ve got to attract them. So all of us got to figure out how to be really great content creators. I hate to say that. I know Paul’s about to punch me in the face, but we’ve got to figure out how to say what we say interestingly and compellingly because there is somebody who’s got what they’re saying interestingly and compellingly. And if we can’t win them over-

Professor Romer (02:00:52):

Just sign it.

Abdul El-Sayed (02:00:52):

[inaudible 02:00:53] we have not thought about it.

Professor Romer (02:00:53):

Just sign it and put your name-

Abdul El-Sayed (02:00:55):

Yes, digital signature all over it. Anyway, with that, thank you all so much.

Speaker 9 (02:01:05):

Brilliant. Thank you very much.

Speaker 10 (02:01:11):

Thank you very much.

Amri Price (02:01:12):

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Speaker 8 (02:01:12):

Thank you.

Amri Price (02:01:12):


Speaker 8 (02:01:12):

That’s brilliant.

Amri Price (02:01:12):

Fantastic. Thank you so much.

Speaker 8 (02:01:12):

Thank you.

Amri Price (02:01:12):


Speaker 8 (02:01:12):

That’s brilliant.

Amri Price (02:01:16):

Fantastic. Thank you very much. Elbow. Hands. Elbows. Thank you so much. That was one fantastic session. I think that looking at that and listening to how pulling no punches can really land. I think my hope levels have escalated there. I don’t know about you.

I think the points that really stood out to me essentially is, to fight a pandemic, we need data. We need to make decisions based on data. Where are the ventilators needed? What needs to be done?

Now, we need to think about how then we deal with the info-demic. How do we get the data about what’s happening in the information environment? We heard about social listening and being able to collect that kind of stuff. And then we need to be able to take the right communications measures to address what we’re seeing.

And we have so such a wealth of disciplines that need to come together, whether it’s health professionals, climate professionals, people who deal with different parts of our society, all need to speak the same language to get that data sharing going. So getting all of that in one session there really raised my energy levels. And get it over to Maya.

Speaker 11 (02:02:32):

Yeah, we are excited to have another panel now. And there’s going to be a panel of the Nobel Laureates. So I think that’s, woo. And the name of the panel. It’s Truth Plus Trust Equal Hope. So I was wondering, what is your level of hope right now? I’m going to go like this and you’re going to like, let’s say that in here, it’s one. In here, it’s 10. So I’m going to be rising and you’re going to be like, “Woo.” So I’m starting with one. How many of you feel of the hope?

Speaker 12 (02:03:02):

Woo. Woo.

Amri Price (02:03:02):


Speaker 11 (02:03:10):

Yay. So we have hope, and I hope that the next panel is going to prove that the hope is possible and will give us some hope. So I would like to invite to the stage, Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 2021. David MacMillon, Nobel Prize Laureate in chemistry 2021 that will join us on zoom. Martin Chalfie, Nobel Prize Laureate in chemistry, 2008 and chair of NAS Committee on Human Rights. Richard Roberts, Nobel Prize Laureate in medicine, 1993. Oh my God. I So many Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. I feel really extended to being here on the stage with you and the moderation by Laura Linfield, Alda Center for Community Science.

Speaker 13 (02:03:53):

Thank you. Thank you. David, it’s nice to meet you on screen over there. So I don’t know if you all noticed, the title of this panel, Truth Plus Trust Equals Hope? Question mark? Is that the question, does truth plus trust equal hope? Or, how does truth and trust equal hope?

I actually think hope can inspire us to generate truth and trust. And we heard so many wonderful things this morning and yesterday as well. So from my vantage point, I’m going to set us off in a minute, and I don’t think that last panel could have ended more effectively to the conversation we’re going to have about the scientific community, you as leaders in science and about science and what we can do to generate more trust and hope and truth.

I run a science communication training organization, the Alan Alda Center at Stony Brook University. And every day I get up and I think to myself about something Alan said. He said, “Laura, what we’re after is creating a fairer, more just, more rational world.” And it inspires me. It gives me hope to be able to help scientists. We’ve worked with thousands and thousands of them, to be able to show up as human beings and connect the work that they do with society.

So on the one hand we’ve got this mountain of AI and technology and all of the challenges, which Maria, yesterday, I was so touched by your presentation. Both horrified and inspired. I want to have us step back and think about, and please, this should be discursive and generative. You’re brilliant people, really maybe the most brilliant stage I have ever sat on. What can and should the scientific community do, you yourselves and others, to build trust? Let’s start with that big question. What can we do?

Speaker 14 (02:06:10):


Speaker 13 (02:06:11):


Speaker 14 (02:06:13):

Okay. Well, I was particularly struck by the last comment from the last panel that scientists need to get up, and they just shouldn’t sit back and let governments and commerce and people just put us down and disparage us, and we don’t fight back. We have to stand up and tell people how useful science is, how good it is for society.

And the problem is money. Money is, I think throughout this whole conference, if you look at what people have been saying, it is money that is causing a lot of the problems. People are doing things for money. AI is out there because it makes money. And we in academic circles, or even in commercial circles doing research, which is what I do, we don’t have the money to fight back. We do not have the same access to funds. So you have a misinformation group, maybe they put a $100 million dollars into something. The NIH doesn’t give grants to people so that they can respond to the attacks that they come under.

So one of the things that I’m involved with at the moment is a small effort that we hope is going to expand in which we’re going to try to get societies, scientific societies, universities, everybody with any credibility in the scientific field, to join us and fight back against the attacks that come on science. At the moment, these are particularly bad in the US. This debt ceiling crisis looks as though it’s going to reduce funding for science. This is awful. This is not the way sensible societies behave.

And so if anybody is interested in finding out more about this movement that we’re starting, to try to get the academics to speak up, please just contact me. My email is roberts@anyb.com. Just send me an email. I usually respond to everything that comes my way. But I think if we fight what is attacking us, we will do well. We can and we should respond to the attacks that come our way.

Speaker 13 (02:08:37):

Marty, what’s your sense of the responsibility to build off of this?

Marty (02:08:43):

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is, we’ve all lived through this horrible pandemic. We’ve all had the feeling of a lack of response, a lack of who to go to to trust about things. And we’ve seen the muddle of the communication. And I have to say, my first thoughts were, should people be preparing for the next pandemic and how the information is going to be delivered? How can we do that better?

And then I’ve been thinking a little bit more, and this I think gets at the element of trust. If we wait for the next pandemic to roll out something that’s going to help people, we will have lost the time. What we need to be doing now is building up the trust in the communities. We all have to be going out. It’s not that we work from emergency to emergency to emergency. It is that we have to work on building trust.

I mentioned this a little bit yesterday in my talk. I want to build on what was said in the last session. What we need to be able to do is work locally to build trust and to work with communities. To work with community journalists, to work with community organizers, to work with the people that live around us so that they know who we are, that we are not isolated individuals that people don’t have any idea about.

One of the unexpected, I have to say, benefits, of having a Nobel Prize is that instead of being asked to talk about my particular scientific area of expertise, I get invited to schools and to colleges and universities to talk more generally about science. I wish there was more opportunities for this, for more people, not just the people that people seem to have designated to do this in the Nobel. But there is an opportunity for us to go out and speak with people, and to use that as an opportunity to talk more generally and to build this trust that we need in science.

Speaker 13 (02:11:16):

There’s something profoundly important there about face-to-face human interactions. And some of this is threads that we heard coming up yesterday, a collective action on the part of the scientific community. But also that interpersonal ability to build trust and connection. Maria, I see you nodding. What might you want to add to this conversation?

Speaker 15 (02:11:42):

First of all, thank you.

Speaker 13 (02:11:44):

The microphone?


Speaker 15 (02:11:46):

Oh, gosh. Sorry. Here we go.

Speaker 13 (02:11:50):

That’s good.

Speaker 15 (02:11:51):

The auditorium was so nice, you could almost hear me. All right. I think Dr. Romer was

Maria (02:12:00):

… Correct in what he said, in everything that he said. And part of the problem that we’ve broken trust is not a human problem. It was really the design of the tech that now connects us. You go back to the data of what that is, you go back to social network analysis, and then you go to all of our disciplines. As journalists, you’re only as good as your sources and how much they trust you. And you build that over years, a really good journalist. As a scientist, you’re only as good as your mind, your results. It’s fantastic to listen to you. As a diplomat, I go to someone like George Schultz, he was almost 100 years old in his very last public statement where he helped countries like us. He actually was supportive of what we were doing. But he said the biggest lesson he learned as a statesman was with trust in the room, anything is possible. Without trust, nothing is possible.

And from our own experiences in Rappler, yes, face-to-face works. We develop trust, we learn. But if you’re being pummeled by disinformation, if the last panel also takes place within a geopolitical power place, and we know that both Russia and China to very different means did disinformation on COVID. The Philippines, even though Sinovac was a 60% efficacy rate, the majority of our population was vaccinated with Sinovac because. And the kind of disinformation we received, we mapped and tracked. So this is power and money. And the scientists have to step up because if you don’t… And I disagree with the sense that you now have to do this for popularity’s sake. I think we have to go to the core problem and fix the information ecosystem. Why should lies laced with anger and hate get the widest distribution?

Yes. Sorry. This is my greatest frustration. So I was sitting in my seat going, “Yes, yes.” Do you know? But I will shut up. And David, why aren’t you here in person?

Speaker 13 (02:14:32):

No, we miss you in person, but please take the mic for a moment.

David MacMillan (02:14:37):

Oh, thank you so much. No, I feel like I’m going to echo a lot of what’s been said already, but it’s interesting, the title, Truth, Trust, and Hope. And at least as a scientist, I always feel like we’re always focused on the truth or trying to get to the truth. And I think most scientists I know, we really care. We have hope, we always have hope. We wouldn’t do what we do without hope. Trust has been the really remarkable component to this that has somehow eroded or it feels like it’s eroded over the last number of years. And I think clearly as a result of a lot of misinformation, disinformation that’s been happening during the pandemic, trust has actually continued to erode.

It’s funny, I’m a recent Nobel Prize winner. And basically, I think it was the day I won a Nobel Prize, I sat in a conference room in front of reporters. And one of the first questions that was asked was, “How do you feel about the skepticism towards science these days?” Which was a remarkable question to be asked the day that you’d sort of received the Nobel Prize. I think the component for me that was really, really interesting is we grew up believing, it was foundational, was trust that was given to scientists. And watching it, in my opinion, erode largely for political reasons, but also with that power and money has been enormously frustrating.

And one of the things which I think for the hope component will be really, really important and the way that I think science or scientists will try and address this is through communication. One of the problems we have is, and this is going back to Maria’s point about sources that we’re not fantastic communicators, I think for the most part. We love what we do and we spend all of our time thinking about how we talk to each other, but we don’t spend an enormous amount of time thinking about how do you relate this information and the value and just the sheer joy of it to the broad society? And I think that has been something that we have to really spend a lot more time thinking about how to do.

And the other point I thought was kind of interesting is if you think about society and where does trust come from for scientists, interestingly, maybe ironically one of the few ways that comes about is because of things like the Nobel Prize. Because if you win one of these things, suddenly people take you seriously on a Wednesday who wouldn’t take you seriously on a Tuesday. It really is true. So I think there has to be these ways of building in more communication.

The one hope I have in this is that younger scientists are fantastic communicators in comparison to their older generations to do some brush strokes on that, wide brush strokes. But I do think the communication part has to be focused upon and I do think it will happen, but at the same time, I think we have to come up with ways of making it that society will care about what we’re telling them. Just focusing upon the negative news around science, I think that’s where one of the biggest problems lies.

Speaker 13 (02:17:52):

Can we unpack? So I’m thrilled to talk about science communication. Can we unpack that a little bit? What do you see, and there’s great documentation about what the challenges are. I want to hear from you what you think the challenges are for scientists to communicate. Because there’s a lot of different things from being aware of how to be on social media or not to interpersonal. So what do you see?

Speaker 14 (02:18:17):

I would make one comment about this. On Wednesday people listened, on Tuesday they didn’t. I think this is something that I discovered that I always used to be talking out about things. And people maybe pretend that they listened, but they would never follow through with any actions. And I won the Nobel Prize and all of a sudden it’s right. People listen. And if you’re lucky, they also follow through with action. And that I think is the big difference. This is where we really can make a difference because when we speak out about things, other people, people in government, people in the services and so on, they take us seriously and perhaps they go ahead and do things.

I’ve been organizing campaigns among Nobel laureates to try to get actions. Not that we can do the actions usually, but it encourages others to do it and get stuff done. And it’s actually been remarkably successful, more successful than I had anticipated when I first started. So that is something that’s worth doing.

Speaker 13 (02:19:21):

There’s a distinct recognition and an opportunity in there as leaders. And I’m hearing there’s leadership around the science you do or the work you do, there’s also leadership around inspiring others to listen. Yeah?

Marty (02:19:41):

I want to bring up a different topic and it revolves around this word of trust, because I think there’s also a false trust. I think one of the problems that we’re facing is that people sometimes look to shortcuts for trust. And I think it’s a problem. So I want to give an example sure of that. And Dr. Romero said, “Chat GPT is crap.” And I would agree with him. The problem is if someone believes it, not believes the product of it, but I have a dear friend who talked to the teacher of her 12-year-old [inaudible 02:20:35] knew that this was not the case, but was horrified at this and went and spent a weekend putting each paragraph from the essay into Chat GPT. And ultimately, hearing that Chat GPT said yes or no to having written it.

Chat GPT does not keep a record of what it does. And we know that it makes up things, so-called hallucinations as opposed to lies. And it did it. And then in attempt to really test it, she took out her 20-year-old wedding vows that had never been online, never been in anything, and asked Chat GPT if it had written those. And it said yes, it had. Now this is all very humorous, except if a teacher does this to a student, that could ruin the student’s, that will ruin the student’s life because the teacher believes that he or she is getting some truthful answer. This is a horrible, as my friend said, “I’m going to tell you something amazing and appalling.” It is certainly both of those. And it is this idea of can we get a shortcut to the truth? Is there a shortcut to trust?

In the sciences, we’ve had a horrible experience where a metric designed to help libraries pick out which journals they should get subscriptions to. So-called impact act was suddenly used to evaluate whether a scientist’s work was good or not. It was not. It was whether the people read that journal or not, whether the articles within it or the authors within it did anything. But it was used as a shortcut to evaluate people. And there’s been a very strong effort to eliminate that as a problem. But I think this is part of the issue of how do people know what to trust and the extent of trusting things, and how can we really work for that? And it’s something I’m very concerned about at the moment.

Speaker 14 (02:23:10):

But this is a good example of why Chat GPT should be called Cheat GPT.

Speaker 13 (02:23:16):

Good branding. Maria?

Maria (02:23:17):

I want to give you some of the stats that unpack this, right? So generative AI, we know, and thank God we have tried GPT3. In the Philippines in May, 2022, we had 18,000 simultaneous elections. I have 10 reporters. I wanted a biography of every single candidate in those elections. We used GPT-3 to actually get it generated, 50,000 pages. This was April last year. And at the bottom of it we said, “This page was done with OpenAI GPT-3 and checked by Rappler Research.” There’s a flattening of meaning from, and that’s Safiya Noble’s work, but there’s a flattening of meaning around words. Why not call it a lie instead of a hallucination?

So just how does it work, right? The science of it is that we’ve already, this machine thinks faster than we do. And what OpenAI did was, which is supposed to be a nonprofit, no longer was to take it word for word and then to increase the parameters. I couldn’t say this yesterday, but the kind of parameters we’re talking about are things we cannot think about as humans. And it is, so GPT-2 was at a parameter of every word, 1.5 billion. GPT-3 is 175 billion, and GPT-4, which was just released this year is a trillion. And now they’ve stopped releasing the parameters. But before the end of the year, GPT-5 is going to be out again. And this is that race that we cannot win. And truth and trust is already broken, but we won’t know. We won’t know what truth is. We won’t have trust. And we will have to have hope in governments preventing this. This is the crazy thing. This is not something we can do.

And I know you’ve been focused on the science community, but the same networks of disinformation globally are the same ones that attack science because the facts are the ones that are first broken and the institutions that are trusted are targeted. The best part right now is neither the Nobel Foundation nor the National Academy of Sciences have been targeted by information operations. But when you are, like we have been, there is no rational defense against it. It is a thinking fast. When you get 90 hate messages per hour, it is impossible to respond. And why should this be allowed? These are American tech companies up until by ByteDance and TikTok. And now America is talking about regulating TikTok without realizing that they’ve broken truth and trust globally. And countries like mine are the ones that feel it worse because our institutions were weaker.

The last point I’ll say is we go back to science and social network analysis. This was a debated thing, but the three degrees of influence rule from Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, are you guys familiar with that? The idea from Framingham, Massachusetts, the Framingham heart study said that, and this is a three generation study, so it’s here, done in America, every emotion and behavior, their thesis, which they proved through the data, it’s been challenged, but it still stood up that every emotion spreads through three degrees of influence. That behavior like smoking spreads through three degrees of influence, behavior, obesity. They had an obesity study at one point.

But here’s the thing, so I was looking at this when we were setting up Rappler and I saw that even loneliness spreads through three degrees. So if I’m feeling lonely, my friend has a 54% chance of feeling lonely because I do, my friend’s friend has a 25% chance of feeling lonely because I do. And my friend’s, friend’s friend has a 15% chance of feeling lonely because I do. In the real world, anecdotally, if I am reporting in a conflict situation, I do not report with the pack because fear spreads. We know this in all of the areas. So you try as a human being in the real world to make the right decisions. But when you’re in a group together, emotion is contagious. Ideas are contagious. Behavior is contagious.

And the last thing I’ll say is mobs, the wisdom of crowds is what we want online. But what I learned in Indonesia when every week after the fall of Suharto, it felt like I was going in violence after violence after violence, whether it’s ethnic, religious, sectarian, mobs formed really quickly. And mobs are formed by really nice people, really good people. And it happens. So we had yesterday a full day where we talked about systems of oppression and history, but it is here and now and we have this small window. Please, I’m trying to think of there’s… Please act. Stop the tech, I suppose is the main thing. And I’m not a tech Luddite. We want good tech. And part of it is just, it’s the profit motive. Back to the 10 point action plan, right? Stop surveillance for profit, stop coded bias, and journalism as an antidote to tyranny. Sorry, I’m very frustrated right now.

Speaker 13 (02:29:15):

Oh, that’s all right. I mean, we’re wearing different hats. I keep coming back to the question of what are the opportunities within the scientific community? Even within the training of scientists, how you become a scientist. I heard the panel before say, and I believe we should be integrating communication and engagement training into what it means to become a scientist. Would one of you, I’m putting that out there, would one of you like to respond? I think there’s other dimensions where we can have some solutions and feel a sense of empowerment, and generate some hope.

Speaker 14 (02:29:55):

I think if we make a part of the education of scientists learning to communicate about their science, not just waiting until they’re already fully fledged, scientists busy doing research. While they are being taught how to do science, they should be taught how to communicate it too. I think this is really very important. And it’s interesting because young kids are actually quite good at this, 12, 13, 14 year olds. I had a 12-year-old who raised an issue with her parents who were opposed to it. And after a talk I’d given the parents changed their minds because this kid, 12-year-old was able to convince her parents that she’d turned something that she believed. And this is good, but this is something we can do. We can really teach people how to communicate science and not to use all the fancy language that we often use when we’re talking to our peers to show them how smart we are, rather to use the simple words and the simple language and explain in simple terms what it is we do every day.

Speaker 13 (02:31:05):

David, I’m mindful when you’re virtually in the room, it’s different with paying attention to body language. Would you like to respond? Please jump in if you have some thoughts on this.

David MacMillan (02:31:17):

No, I think it’s really interesting, this whole business about communication. And I defer to Maria on this part, but it always feels to me like one of the issues is that bad news sells better than good news. And so this issue that we often confront when we come up with these great innovations or these great new pieces of science that the scientific community is aware of as being fantastic and valuable. And you think about everything that’s going on in quantum right now. You think about the ways that machine learning can be powerful. You can think about all the ways that catalysis is changing the world and will move towards addressing climate change. And these are all extraordinarily positive things that science is doing and will continue to do. But you don’t hear about them necessarily in your feed on Twitter. You don’t hear about them necessarily on social media. You don’t hear about them on TV news.

And I think one of the key aspects of that is how do we as a key community think about ways of communicating the value and the excitement that is there such that we can at least provide people with a sense of optimism and from that, obviously is hope, but at the same time I think will ultimately become trust. I think if people realize that the broad community of scientists really, really do care about making society better and that is their goal, I think that will be required for people to be able to move away from skepticism that they’re hearing from other sources.

One of the ones I spoke about on the video I presented just really quickly is I’m surrounded by chemists, I’m surrounded by biologists. And so many people I know who often join the pharmaceutical industry, they do it because they care about medicine. They care about taking people who are sick and ill and allowing them to literally become better. And I think it’s one of the most noble occupations in the world. And yet at the same time the news we hear about it is usually the business side of big bad pharmaceutical companies. And we don’t think about the scientists who are literally giving up their whole profession, their whole life in this drive to do these wonderful things for society.

So I really do think we have as a community, we have to come up with these ways to try and connect back to society about what are these enormously beneficial, positive, noble things that there’s so many people around the world are engaged in.

Speaker 13 (02:33:47):

I love that. It reminds me of the civic science initiative that Rita Allen Foundation, Cav Lee and others have just led and supported that it’s really thinking about science in society as opposed to there’s science and then there’s society. We all have family members and we’re all connected. So I think there’s such power in that sense. And of course, the word communication comes from community, which is really critical to remember. Marty, I see you have a thought.

Marty (02:34:16):

So there are initiatives that have been done for several years. NSF has said as part of its grants program that there has to be an outreach component. And I think that has changed the way people are thinking about how they communicate their science to the larger world.

And just to something else, I won’t go into all the details, I learned about an astronomy department at Columbia that just did a search last year for a new faculty member, and did it in an anonymized way to give everybody an equal advantage. And what they did is in the initial attempt was to say, “Anyone that wants to be a candidate has to write three essays because these are the three things we are interested in. We want an essay about your past work and what you intend to do for your future research. That’s one. Second, we want an essay on your teaching, how you do that. And third, we want an essay on how you’re going to interact with the broader community.” And they evaluated all three independently and then brought the people that they were most excited for that.

But I think all three of those things should be a common source for hiring of all faculty. What do you want to do? How do you want to teach? And how do you want to communicate with the much broader world that is very important to be contacted with? So I’m very proud of them for doing that. I think more people should do it.

Speaker 13 (02:36:05):

What a wonderful idea. I love it. Yeah, please.

Speaker 14 (02:36:09):

There is a counterexample of how that is not particularly good. You may remember Carl Sagan, who was probably one of the very best communicators in science and he was denied access to, for instance, the National Academy of Sciences for a long time, to universities. They said, “Oh, he’s a communicator, he doesn’t do serious science.” And this is nonsense. You have to be very careful about how you’re judging people who are good at communicating with the public.

Speaker 13 (02:36:45):

I couldn’t agree more. We have a few minutes for some final thoughts. We’re going into the afternoon. Maria, I think you have a session. That’s right?

Maria (02:36:52):


Speaker 13 (02:36:53):

What actions should we take? What are some things that are crystallizing for you?

Maria (02:36:59):

Can I ask the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists, please look at the world today and don’t be silent. Your silence empowers all the bad that is happening today. We’re talking in the last two panels about communication, but I keep going back, please email me if you would like all the data on this. Our information ecosystem is broken. And it is broken not by science, but by the technical guides, by the technology. And you have the science to disprove their thesis. So please, that’s number one.

I think number two, since Tristan isn’t here, let me give you a study he always quotes. In August last year, a few months before Chat GPT was released, there was a survey done in Silicon Valley, about 800 people. And they were asked, “Would you release…” They were asked about what they were doing, artificial intelligence. Because remember, this is the second generation, the second group. It’s far more sophisticated. And 50% of them said that, “There is a 10% or greater chance that if it is released as is that they can lose control and that it will lead to an extinction event of us.” That’s them, the people working on this.

And then Tristan would say, this is like if you were getting on a plane, and I’m getting on a plane, would you get on a plane that has a 10% or greater chance of crashing? And the other part of that is you don’t have a choice. You’re on the plane. So we’re on the plane, folks. And all of us, whether it is science, whether it is whatever profession you are in, this is transformative. And if the first generation of AI weaponized our fear, anger, and hate, the second generation will weaponize our intimacy. This will break down humanity. But hope, we’re still here.

Speaker 13 (02:39:23):

I’m really happy I got to be on this proverbial plane with you for a little while. Thank you so much for a wonderful conversation. Thank you.

Speaker 14 (02:39:31):

Thank you.

Maya (02:39:43):

… Inspiring conversation. And I’m always very, very grateful that we talk so much about communication. Because I think that communication does matter and it makes a change, and we definitely need to change the way we’re communicating. And another important part from an amazing discussion, that was there was money. Resources are crucial. If we really want to build the future that will be based on truth and trust and that will be hopeful, we need to have those resources because those that are trying to fight with our informational environment, they have quite a lot of them. But with this, we are finishing the first part of today’s session.

Amri Price (02:40:36):

Indeed. So we’ve had an intensive series of sessions here. I think one of the lines I heard there at the end, or rather earlier on was if you get a Nobel Prize, people start listening. So maybe that’s one for the bucket list for all of us, and also an indication of how special this community is and why we need to get through to action. So we’re now, as Maya just said, we’re going to close the morning program. We have a digital program that has been ongoing and will continue. So if you are tuning in digitally, we’re going to move to that for you.

Maya (02:41:19):

But we’ll be back at 4:00 PM Washington time in here on the stage live. So thank you so much for our online audience. And we are going to give some housekeeping…

Carl Folke (03:33:36):

Hello there.

Interviewer (03:37:55):

Hello. We’re here at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. I’m here with Carl Folke. Carl is one of the most cited academics on the planet. He is a co-founder of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. He’s chair of the board of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. He’s director of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, and he was one of the architects of the first Nobel Prize Summit held in 2021 called Our Planet, Our Future. Carl, why that title, why that theme, and why that summit?

Carl Folke (03:44:10):

Yeah, I think that summit was extremely important in creating a consensus on the challenges for our species on Earth into the future. And basically, because it was now recognized that it’s not just the climate as such as an isolated issue or environmental challenges that it’s all about, it’s really about our own future and our own civilization’s welfare and progress on Earth that we are talking about when we talk about climate change and environmental challenges or biodiversity loss.

Interviewer (03:44:44):

And what were the kind of issues brought up at the summit and why now? Why is the time so special now for an event like that?

Carl Folke (03:44:52):

Well, I think the time is really special because I would argue that we are in a sort of cultural shift of understanding our new role on Planet Earth. And the first dimension there is of course, that we are embedded in the biosphere, and for those of you who don’t really know what the biosphere is, it’s a thin layer around the planet, only 20 kilometers, and that’s actually the only place in this immense universe that we know for sure has life. And we are part of it, we’re embedded in it. Our friends, families, our societies, our economies, our civilizations are embedded in this biosphere and dependent on it.

At the same time, we are completely shaping it. Now we are in a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene, where we have become a global force on the way the whole planet operates, which is quite amazing actually for a species to be. It only happened one months or twice earlier in the history of the Earth, that that has taken place. But we also have something different from the other situations when that happened, and it’s that we can have some foresight and some communication and some collaboration and collective action. So I think the summit was really about how can we mobilize ourselves and our way of doing things in a new way so we can continue to prosper and have a good life on Planet Earth.

Interviewer (03:46:12):

And one of the big outcomes from the summit was a statement, and you led the development of that statement, and it was signed by 100, I think 126 Nobel laureates. This has been signed by more Nobel laureates than any other statement. So what were the key points in that statement about the transformation that we need to make and why was that important?

Carl Folke (03:46:36):

I think one of the key points was the urgency issue, that is not something that can happen within several decades into the future, it’s now. We’re in the Anthropocene change right now. We have left the stable Holocene era and moving into a new trajectory. It’s not just the game that is changing, it’s actually the whole playing field for our game that is changing on Earth. That means that it’s not just enough to talk about getting rid of some emissions, but it’s really about finding out new strategies for our own future. And we discussed that in the context of climate change and biodiversity loss, also in the context of inequality, and also in the context of the enormous technological revolution we’re in right now. And both the problems, but especially the great opportunities that can help us in redirecting how we do our business on Earth.

Interviewer (03:47:31):

And so since the summit and since that statement, it’s been two years, how do you see the evolution of the solutions and the impact of the science on policy? Do you see progress?

Carl Folke (03:47:49):

I think there is an enormous awakening going on, and more than an awakening. If you look at the European Union, for example, we have the whole taxonomy that is now going to be implemented in basically all companies throughout Europe, which is really pushing our business actions in a new direction. There is an enormous awakening among investors beyond the climate to go into nature-based solutions and investing in the thin biosphere that we’re dependent on. So I’m really hopeful in that sense.

In other dimensions, of course, it’s really shaking, I think it’s turbulent times. We have new shocks, not only climate shocks, but new political tensions and economic interactions that create strifes for many people on Earth, actually. But on the other hand, we have often observed that before big tipping points, before big shifts, there is often an increased polarization, and I think that’s what we’re seeing right now. So hopefully the shift will go into a sustainable direction and not in any other direction.

Interviewer (03:48:55):

So the next summit, the theme of the next summit is truth, trust, and hope. And it gets at that issue of polarization that you are talking about. What do you think the links are between the first summit and this second summit and the key challenges for the second summit?

Carl Folke (03:49:14):

Yeah, first, I think that the topic is really important because, in my mind at least, science has sort of developed pretty good tools, techniques, and methods for trying to understand what is really going on, some sense making capacity, making sense of the situation we’re in. And I would argue that sense making capacity is much better than just storytelling or especially extremely important in times of misinformation. So that’s the bottom line. And I think in that context of the first summit, this type of sense making science is extremely important to help us navigate our changes now into a sustainable future, both in terms of policy and practice, and also in business.

Interviewer (03:50:04):

And what do you think the frontiers of the science are in Earth system science, in transformation and these issues around mobilizing billions of people to change direction?

Carl Folke (03:50:19):

I think when it comes to the climate, we sort of know what to do, at least when it comes to getting rid of the emissions, and the techniques are really there. And actually, if you look at it’s not just incremental change happening now, it’s an enormously exponential acceleration that goes on in the energy sector in many parts of the world, moving into solar, wind, and other renewable energies. And that’s happening also in other sectors, like car industries and things like that. But we are not yet really appreciating the ecosystem services or the natural capital of the planet, but I think we’re getting there fast now, and that’s where we can also start to use the new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence in

Carl Folke (03:51:00):

… in an intelligent way, not in a stupid way that we sometimes tend to do.

Speaker 16 (03:51:05):

Yeah, absolutely. And what’s your hope for this Summit, Truth and Trust and Hope. What’s your hope for that this Summit can achieve?

Carl Folke (03:51:17):

I really hope that this Summit can really establish the rule of science as very critical sense-making body for navigating the big changes that we are going to experience on Earth right now. Because as I said before, we’re already out of the stable Holocene into the Anthropocene, and we need to take away actions that are meaningless or actions that are completely wrong, or even misinformation that try to stop the actions and really have science as a backbone in this complex navigating process that we have into our own future.

Speaker 16 (03:51:53):

And why do you think these Nobel Summits are important?

Carl Folke (03:51:58):

I think they’re extremely important because they gather a lot of Nobel laureates and a lot of other decision-makers at the very high level around critical topics for human wellbeing and welfare and for economic and social development. So I think they are extremely, extremely timely and extremely important for setting the stage for many of the challenges that confronts humanity.

Speaker 16 (03:52:24):

My final question, this is a surprise for you as well. Given everything you know, you’re one of the leading experts in the world on the state of the planet, are you optimistic about our future?

Carl Folke (03:52:38):

Yeah. If I would’ve started with these topics just a few years ago, I would’ve been really pessimistic, I think. But since I started already in the early ’80s, I think we are in a mental-cultural awareness revolution that is now starting to generate action. And it’s going really fast. So that’s why I’m hopeful. You can easily be depressed and think that we are too many, we doing too much, and we don’t understand that we’re living on the planet. But I see also good signs that we are changing in the right direction, and that makes me hopeful.

Speaker 16 (03:53:09):

Carl Folke, thank you very much.

Carl Folke (03:53:11):

Thanks a lot.

Asa Wikfors (03:53:21):

I’m sitting here with Peter Pomerantsev, writer and a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins who is here in Stockholm because just today, we had a big conference called Thought and Truth Under Pressure. And we’re in fact sitting in the Swedish Academy Nobel Library reading room, and we thought we would talk a little bit about these issues that we did yesterday. This title, Thought and Truth Under Pressure, you objected. You’ve said truth is not under pressure. It’s being swept away. What do you mean when you say that?

Peter Pomerantsev (03:53:58):

Yeah, I don’t know. The scene that I gave to encapsulate that sense of truth just being obliterated was in Ukraine where Russia is occupying parts of Ukraine, razing whole cities to the ground, and then really wiping out the memory of the people who lived there in real-time. I’m not talking about a 20, 30, 40-year period. In front of our eyes, they’re mass murdering. The people whose lives were there are disappearing. We don’t know where they were buried. Their bodies are being taken away with the rubble of the buildings.

And a new reality is being created. Russia is taking thousands of Ukrainian children, reeducating them, giving them a new identity, forcing a new identity on them. And this is all happening in front of us. And Putin’s great claim is that he’s powerful enough to remake reality, and facts don’t really exist, and truth is just something which is a subset of power, and maybe even the proof of power is to be able to dictate truth. But then it’s happening in front of our eyes. It’s not a theory. It’s not a slow progress of Foucaultian institution building, which somehow sets new paradigms of thinking, talking about it’s happening over a period of weeks and months in front of our eyes. And there’s many ways of looking at the war in Ukraine, a colonial war, a remaking of the international order, all those things. But it’s also a war that really brings into very stark contours this long conflict that we’re in the middle of between truth and unreality, which we see in many ways, but very brutally in Ukraine.

Asa Wikfors (03:55:59):

And of course, this battle against truth, which authoritarian regimes always have. It’s not new. And Russia, you were in Russia in the 1990s and wrote a very well-known book called Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. What did you see there then?

Peter Pomerantsev (03:56:19):

Yeah, I was there in the 2000s, but the early 2000s, which was, I suppose, the pre-period to the current more overtly dictatorial and I would say also fascistic Russian regime. But what was very evident there was how this treatment of truth is built on a pre-history, both of savior culture, which already was believed that you could reimpose reality top-down and already was full of a tradition where you moved people around or whole populations around and settled them somewhere else and dictated identity. But then mixed with a very post-modern sense, that all reality is mutable, that all identity is mutable. If the communist reality was stable, it was the idea to create a new stable reality, Russia had gone through so much turmoil in the ’80s, ’90s, and the 2000s. So much change that people were left with a sense that all identity is mutable and can be recreated, not in anything new and stable, but in this constant churn. So that was an attitude that was all pervasive.

Asa Wikfors (03:57:47):

In the context of entertainment too then, right?

Peter Pomerantsev (03:57:47):

Yes, yes, very much so. They infused politics with entertainment with the principles of reality shows, for example.

Asa Wikfors (03:57:56):

Yeah. And that of course is not just a Russian phenomenon. We see this in the West too. And one thing that we talked a lot about yesterday was how this threat to truth, it’s not just a threat in authoritarian states but in democracies now. And one metaphor that’s kept popping up yesterday was this idea of a free market of ideas, the marketplace of ideas, which goes back to the philosopher John Stuart Mill. Even though he didn’t quite use that metaphor, but he spoke about the square and the idea that if you let speech free, truth will conquer, will counteract dogmas and truth will win. And several speakers yesterday came back to it’s not a very good metaphor because truth doesn’t rise to the top as it were. What is fundamentally wrong with that metaphor, do you think?

Peter Pomerantsev (03:58:47):

So you’re right. I think actually that the metaphor, a marketplace of ideas comes from an American judge.

Asa Wikfors (03:58:52):

It comes from Oliver Holmes, yeah.

Peter Pomerantsev (03:58:54):

Oliver Holmes, yes. And no one’s ever tested this. It’s just it’s a completely mythical concept based on a theory of rational choice, isn’t it? At the end of the day, it’s the idea that people will make rational choice decisions in a marketplace. Now, I’m not an economist, but as far as I know in economics, nobody thinks about rational choice actors. Everyone thinks of much more complicated motivations these days. And it’s weird that in our ideas about media or communications, we would think that rational choices, that the way people select what their identities or their tribes, so it seems just based on a very faulty idea about how people come to decisions.

Asa Wikfors (03:59:40):

But I think there’s something to it. But I think the problem is, so we are talking about rational belief, rational choice. Then values come in and people do all sorts of crazy things. But belief formation. And I think if you look, I think there is a place where it works, and that’s a very well-functioning academic seminar where the idea is precisely that we should be free to question each other and not feel personally offended, but we have to do it in a nice and good way and we have to provide reasons and arguments. And that works in the scientific context over time. Researchers can do crazy things at points. But-

Peter Pomerantsev (04:00:18):

It shows there’s some very good comedic novels about context life. I might question that.

Asa Wikfors (04:00:23):

Yes. And that’s why there’s always going to be these exceptions. But in general, the reason science works, I think, is that we have precisely this open marketplace of ideas where we question each other and we have institutionalized peer review and all that stuff. And the conference is all about trying to find faults with the arguments provided in a nice and non-personal way. I think there is a context where it works. But in the public arena, in the public sphere, of course, there’s going to be all sorts of other things. The conditions won’t be there.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:00:58):

And also, everything that we see and what we know around the way people choose information products is not necessarily by weighing their credibility. It’s got to do with confirmation bias or how it fits their identity or how it makes them feel. So there’s all these other factors in play and also very self-destructive just as well.

So I don’t think that that theory of choice is right. We’re not like here’s a piece of disinformation, here’s a piece of information. You weigh them up in a certain way and make a rational choice about them. That’s not how it works. Even people who are incredibly educated in academics, when you put them into the real world, will make all sorts of crazy choices. But also the marketplace in a public square, that also envisions a place where it’s one person, one voice, and we don’t live in that world. If you own a TV station, you have much more of a bigger loudspeaker than someone who doesn’t. And if you are an army of bots on the public square and there’s a hell of a lot of bots out there and robots and not real people, how does that distort the public square? There are so many things wrong with that metaphor.

Asa Wikfors (04:02:17):

Yes. No, it completely ignores the power structures that will determine how the square functions. But I think it’s interesting about the cognitive biases that we have, confirmation biases on. That’s something scientists have too. But precisely because they question each other, you can’t get stuck in your own confirmation bias. So that’s why that works in a social context. Not when you put a researcher alone. They will do all sorts of crazy things because no one will question them. So you need to have this.

But one thing that’s striking about, of course, we’re talking a lot about the new digital information landscape. And one thing that’s striking about that that I’ve been thinking about is precisely how it interacts with our biases in a much stronger way than the earlier media landscape, for take confirmation bias. There’s one way to describe. The new information landscape is to describe it as this high-choice information landscape. We can just go out and pick and choose. And of course, when we can do that and the choice is in principle almost unlimited, we’ll go for the stuff that fits what we already believe or what makes us feel good or what gets us riled up in a way that feels good. So that is this high-choice information landscape puts the choice increasingly on the individual instead of a more limited choice of information landscape on the individual. And we are, as individuals, not very well suited to make those choices. I think that’s one aspect of this.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:03:42):

Yeah. I don’t want to praise the old public sphere or romanticize it, but there were some good elements to it or there were useful things to it. In Britain anyway, you had this nice psychology. You had very tabloid newspapers which people did peg their identities to, sociologists or people analyzing voters would say, “Ah, this is a Guardian reader or a Sun reader.” And that they were very partisan. Some of them very tabloid. A lot of them peddled disinformation with a lot of energy. But then they would all be brought together within the common arena of the BBC where you’d have a columnist from each newspaper and they’d debate each other, which would be a little bit of a bit like checks and balances and peer review process of sorts.

In any case, it would humanize the context. And yes, you would not like the other person, but you wouldn’t demonize them as well because you saw them as maybe comedic. Maybe you don’t agree with their morals, but they were human at any rate. And it was very… That was meant to be a metaphor of society, these public spheres are meant to be metaphors of a much bigger context. And it worked. But that metaphor is broken down. People don’t associate with those newspapers anymore. It’s much more fractured into little social media groups and tribes. The BBC has stopped being the place that represents all of society because by having those four representatives, newspapers there, you’re no longer representing society. So people feel very, very alienated when they watch the BBC.

So that sequence of sublimation and metaphors has broken down, and that makes it very hard for society to see itself and to have a place where it can both imagine itself and a place where it can talk to itself in an imaginary space. So we always took these things for granted, but there were actually these very, very subtle sequences of sublimations, metaphors, imaginary spaces, which then made sense of society so we could process complicated and controversial concepts. And that ecology has just exploded.

Asa Wikfors (04:05:52):

It exploded and it exploded overnight, basically.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:05:56):

Kind of what happened.

Asa Wikfors (04:05:56):

It was very fast. And I think we don’t know what the new landscape looks like and what we’re going to do with it. That’s the situation we are now. So that connects with my next question because I was thinking, you talked yesterday about what can we do now about the democratic public sphere to make it as good as it can be in the new information context that we have. And you wanted to make a difference between democratic communication and autocratic communication. And you even spoke about propaganda for good and propaganda for bad. What’s distinctive of democratic communication, would you say?

Peter Pomerantsev (04:06:35):

Well, exactly. I think you made a very good point at the start saying these issues with the creation of spaces of unreality, which are suffused with a very dehumanizing and very twisted form of propaganda, are not unique to dictatorships. We find them in hybrid regimes, authoritarian regimes. We find them in democracies. I live in America where whole swaths of the population and what is clearly a democracy believe that the last election was stolen.

And we know now increasingly that this was a big lie pedaled by people who knew exactly what they were doing, who knew it was a lie, who did it completely on purpose. We know that from the big case against Fox News. So that’s a democracy where people are living in a very, very purposefully created on reality. And if you actually look at the methodology of a Fox or a Putin propaganda or a Modi propaganda, they actually repeat certain patterns. Firstly, they have an attitude towards the human, that the audience is something to be manipulated. They have a vision of the human as potty that can be molded. I’m not a citizen that you interact with and debate with and try to persuade.

Asa Wikfors (04:07:56):

An object.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:07:58):

An object that can be formed, an audience that can be molded, really a deeply dehumanizing idea, or for me, deeply undemocratic. And they always use a propaganda that dehumanizes the enemy, that they create an other which is somehow an existential threat to you which they caricature and render an object to be feared and maybe that it’s okay to be violent towards.

And they create spaces where facts don’t matter. It’s very interesting listening to both Kremlin propaganda and stuff in Fox News to what extent they use very similar arguments. They say that everything is corrupt. All media is corrupt. The Kremlin propaganda will say that the BBC always lies. Sean Hannity will say MSNBC, NBCA, BBC, they will lie. They then don’t say that, “We tell the truth.” They just say you can’t trust anyone. We live in a world where facts don’t matter anymore, where you can’t trust anyone. So therefore all that is left is tribe identity and strong leaders who will lead you.

So this and other patterns are very clear there. They very purposefully create conditions where you can’t have a debate. They’re rife with conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories firstly are very good at creating defensive and aggressive identities. But conspiracy theories also obliterate any possibility for dialogue. If you ever try to debate a conspiracy theorist, it’s impossible because you put forward an argument and they say, “Oh, well, you would say that. You are from Mossad, the CIA. You’re an [inaudible 04:09:31],” whatever. You cannot have a debate with conspiracy theorists. So they kill the very possibility of democratic discourse.

So these patterns repeat over and over and over, even though it would be wrong to say that this is just something you find in totalitarian dictatorships. You find this in democracies. But this kind of propaganda, this kind of communication, this kind of media destroy the possibility of democratic discourse and of a democratic public sphere, which is based on listening to each other, agreeing upon what a fact might be, creating a space for that debate possible-

Asa Wikfors (04:10:06):

And what reasons might be.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:10:07):

Exactly, reasons might be. But also deeply humanizing. So that’s the contrast I would make. And that’s an interesting way of really maybe thinking about a lot of our divisions in the world between different types of communication. Because we live in a world where there’s an attempt to say it’s about dictatorship versus democracy again, which was the trope we used in the Cold War, and why that can be useful at times. That doesn’t account for a Turkey or an India or what’s going on inside the US. It’s a little bit… It doesn’t quite really explain the working.

Asa Wikfors (04:10:40):

They are declining democracies, these countries, Turkey and India.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:10:43):

Sure. But it’s like, again, it’s like I don’t even if the Cold War, that distinction works as well as we think it did. But I find it helpful to a point. It doesn’t really then explain to us that’s very perturbing movements within democracies as well. So I find if we actually start thinking about the world in terms of the competition of different types of communication, then we’re in a much more interesting space. We’ll take Silicon Valley. There’s many people in Silicon Valley who essentially also have a non-democratic view of communication. They essentially think that people are incapable of making rational decisions in an era of high-data information. And what people should do is give up all their data to a centralized power, a company or another power, that will make decisions for them. That’s not far away from the philosophy by some people in Silicon Valley.

Obviously, that’s the philosophy of the Chinese Communist Party that’s very open about this. They’re like, “We live in a world where only centralized totalitarian decision-making can work.” People cannot be trusted with making decisions in a complicated information environment. What we do is give up all the information to the centralized power. They will use our data, define the best type of city to live in, the best education for us, the best, now I’m going a little bit over the top, the best wife, the best partner, the best sexual position. They will find you everything. We are just such things as our data produce us. And enough of all this nonsense about checks and balances and liberal choice. That’s for the 20th century losers. Efficiency, power, the future is with centralized decision-making based on our data.

So I obviously don’t agree with that, but that is a trend that we see in many places. And again, this reflects a different idea about communication, people, our information.

Asa Wikfors (04:12:45):

So what is distinctive about democratic discourse then, and how can we strengthen it?

Peter Pomerantsev (04:12:50):

It’s funny how we don’t really know immediately. Because we think a lot of when we think about democracy, we think we know what goes into it, fair courts and voting and all these institutions. And we took the democratic discourse bit for granted, and now everyone’s woken up and go, “Oh, there’s this other spongy thing that’s all…” Which is the oxygen of democracy, which we would take oxygen for granted. And we thought about the air we breathe. We’re looking at the buildings of democracy, but we thought about its atmosphere and democratic discourses as its atmosphere.

It’s funny. We did a long series of brainstorms over COVID at the LSC and then at Johns Hopkins, bringing together a lot of people from tech, from philosophy to talk about this. And it really came down to two or three things that kept on repeating in the conversation. Democratic discourse is where you listen to the other, where you humanize the other. And to strengthen that, that’s not to do with academic papers. That’s the arts and culture. That’s why arts and culture plays such a huge role in. That’s about the novels that you watch. That’s about the films that you watch. That’s about the entertainment that you watch. So much more important than peer-reviewed academic papers to create the conditions-

Asa Wikfors (04:13:59):

That’s very important.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:14:00):

… for crucial… To create the conditions for it. So if you want to actually do something major, and that’s related to a form of identity, a form of identity that’s more open, that’s ready to admit an other. And if you look at what the non-democratic propaganda does or the destructive propaganda does, it’s all about identities. It’s creating a form of identity that’s very scared, aggressive, and very, very paranoid. And really, art and culture and education played a crucial role in that. And without those conditions, nothing else can happen. I always say that the main competition in the world is not between disinformation and truth. It’s between propaganda and art. That’s actually what the tension is. That’s where the big battle is. Which is why the propaganda always try to grab the artists first. They grab the artist first, not with the scientists. And for very good reason. And the artists get pulled in and they sell out their soul, or then they feel terrible.

Asa Wikfors (04:15:00):

Or they get silenced.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:15:02):

Or they get silenced because they’re a threat. Exactly. They either get co-opted or silenced. Exactly.

Asa Wikfors (04:15:05):

That’s a recurring pattern.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:15:07):

So there’s that bit. That’s the identity bit. And without that, nothing else can happen. But then it’s about creating spaces where facts matter, creating discourses where facts matter, creating environments where truths can emerge. And that’s much more your town halls, your academic institution-

Asa Wikfors (04:15:25):

That’s more structural-

Peter Pomerantsev (04:15:26):

… your public debate.

Asa Wikfors (04:15:28):

… in a sense that we need to create arenas where people don’t attack each other personally, but reason and argue about how good-

Peter Pomerantsev (04:15:38):

And what facts matter and people can agree what facts are, agoras or whatever. But then the last bit, which I think is very important, is that in the democracy, the discourse leads to change. It has meaning in terms of policies and it has a worth. What the dictators have been very good at doing is letting people blah, blah, blah, much more than they did in the 20th century. You can have your blah, blah, blah. Even in Russia, until recently, you could blah, blah, blah. You can’t now. But until recently, you could blah, blah, blah a lot. And it’s meaningless. Orban still lets people blah, blah, blah in Budapest but it’s meaningless. And there’s this vision that appears between the ability to say something in certain environments and it having no meaning, which is so destructive. So democratic discourse has agency. It empowers people to then do something. So I think those three factors are probably, we can get those away. I think we’re on good plot path.

Asa Wikfors (04:16:33):

No, and it has a goal, like you’re saying. The idea was this is open square the democratic discourse was meant for. There is an idea there that we need the truth to make good decisions for how our society will be shaped. We have societal change challenges of various sorts. We can get a pandemic or a climate change and so on, and we can debate what’s important to or what a good society looks like. But if we’re going to make any decisions about anything we need, it needs to be fact-based because otherwise, we can’t solve problems. So there’s always that goal-oriented quality of proper democratic discourse that let’s figure out the facts, then we can disagree on what’s most important to do and so on. We can have conflicts of goals. That’s fine. Let’s debate that. But we need to at least agree on the facts because otherwise, there will be no good decisions here.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:17:21):

Or agree what a fact is. I think it’s even more fundamental what counts as evidence.

Asa Wikfors (04:17:26):

What counts as evidence, I would say, because you don’t want to get too philosophically here. I, being a philosopher, I do believe that because I don’t think people have theories about facts and truths and so on. But we need to agree on what counts as a good argument, what counts as evidence, what are reliable epistemic authorities, if you like. We need to understand how science works and why. There’s a reason to think that when then scientists reach consensus, that’s not because they tend to just agree with each other. It’s because they’ve been fighting it out and they converge on something. So we need to understand the epistemic value of consensus. All these things we need to talk about, I think. And because this was a topic that kept recurring yesterday. Once facts are gone, we are lost and the whole society becomes unmoored from reality and steeped in myth, which is what the totalitarian state wants, of course.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:18:25):

Yeah. There’s no point of resistance. You need facts in order to push back. There are points of resistance.

Asa Wikfors (04:18:30):

And to speak truth to power, which was a central idea that Snyder’s pushed yesterday about freedom of speech. The point of freedom of speech is speaking truth to power. You can’t do that without facts. Well, thank you so very much, Peter, for-

Peter Pomerantsev (04:18:45):

My pleasure.

Asa Wikfors (04:18:46):

… talking to me today. Keep up the good work.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:18:51):

I will do my best.

Asa Wikfors (04:18:52):

Thank you.

Peter Pomerantsev (04:18:53):

Thank you very much.

Tawakkol Karman (04:19:13):

Hello, everyone. [foreign language 04:19:18]. First of all, congratulations to the Nobel Foundation and the National Academy of Science for organizing this important conference on misinformation. I think the title you have chosen, Truth, Trust, and Hope perfectly suits this moment in our history. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there with you in Washington, DC, but thanks to technology, I am participating with you now discussing the importance of collaboration to defeat hate and disinformation.

First of all, evolving information environment is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, social media platforms have made information more accessible. Content creation is simplified and information is spreading faster. All of this means that people can express their opinions and connect with others around the world much more easily. On the other hand, these tools can be exploited by malicious actors to undermine elections, cause confusion in times of crisis, and take advantage of people, as well as by authoritarian regimes that want to use these platforms to maintain their grip on power and silence the voices of their opponents.

From my own experience as a Yemeni and an Arab living under authoritarian regimes, I have seen both sides of technology, the dark and the light sides. As you know, the Arab Spring was a watershed moment in modern history that demonstrated the power of collective peaceful action and the will of the people to achieve freedom and justice, freedom, justice, and democracy. In this historic moment, social media proved to be a powerful catalyst, igniting a flame of change that spread across nations. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube provided a platform for Arab citizen to express their grievances, mobilize protests, and share information with the world in real-time. Through hashtags, posts and videos, people were able to unite and break the barriers of silence imposed by authoritarian regimes.

Technology became a beacon of hope that allowed ordinary citizens to document human rights abuses, expose corruption, and demand justice. Social media in general provided a digital public square where ideas, stories, and demands for change could be shared and amplified. They held shape a narrative of resistance and curate an international network of solidarity.

But unfortunately, with that great power comes great responsibility and challenges. The dark side of this technological revolution has come to light. The authoritarian regimes have recognized the potential threat of social media and quickly adapted their tactics to exploit social media to maintain their grip on power and suppress dissent. They have spread misinformation, embraced digital surveillance, deployed cyber armies, and enacted laws to control online discourse. By monitoring and manipulating online content, the authoritarian regimes, electronic flies, we call them in Arab region, electronic flies and pro-regime influencers and broadcasters,

Tawakkol Karman (04:24:00):

… and of course, fake accounts have been used to spread false stories about dissident, about peaceful revolution, about women activists, about journalists, about Arab Spring in general, and smear journalists, as I said, human rights activists, and also political activists. There are many numerous cases from Jamal Khashoggi to [inaudible 04:24:33] to myself, but despite all these obstacles and challenges, I firmly believe that we can overcome them if we corroborate and work together. We can safeguard the truth and protect the people’s voices and integrity of digital spaces. Global democracies, tech companies, and civil societies, organizations must join forces to support the voices of those who strive for freedom, democracy, dignity, and human rights, which will help expose the tactics of manipulation, creating spaces for alternative narrative to flourish, and developing reports, robust framework that protects expression rights and reserve the integrity of information.

We must invest in media literacy programs that equip individuals with the tools to discard the truth from falsehood. This will help in building resilient societies that resist the manipulation of information. Tech companies bear approved found responsibilities in this battle for truth. They must fortify their platforms against manipulation, disinformation, and the suppression of voices. They must prioritize the wellbeing of their users, be more the transparent about their policies, around this information, and have clear procedures for removing it when there is potential for real world harm. They also should establish clear guidelines and policies that prohibit the manipulation of their platforms by authoritarian regimes. They should resist the authoritarian regimes’ demands for censorship that undermine freedom of expression while actively combating the abuse of their platforms to promote hate and disinformation. Here as a member of the oversight board of Facebook and Instagram, I want to mention that we are trying to be part of the solution.

We are doing our best to be part of solution that can contribute to improving internet governance and protecting human rights by making, by discussing a lot of cases in Facebook and Instagram, by making principled independent decisions regarding content on Facebook and Instagram, and by issuing recommendations on the relevant methods combining content policy. Finally, the individuals have a pivotal rule to play in this battle of facing the disinformation and hate, and also for achieving the truth and spreading hope. You must seek the truth, spread hope, and defend integrity. Trust your own voice in the face of bullying, smear campaigns, and the relentless falsehood. Never become discouraged and lose faith on yourself. Always, always remember that your voice matters, your thoughts, ideas, and opinions are valuable, and to protect yourself from fake news and disinformation, think critically and do not be afraid to question the information that is presented to you. Look beyond the headlines and delve into the content. Surround yourself with a wide range of view points, including those that challenge your own beliefs. Thank you so much.

Speaker 17 (04:30:02):

False, manipulated, and hateful information is undermining truth and trust, but there is hope. Passionate technologists are fighting back. Here is one of their stories.

Fernanda Campagnucci (04:30:16):

Hi, I’m Fernanda, director of Open Knowledge Brazil. With a fantastic team and a community of hundreds of volunteers, we created Querido Diario or Dear Diary. Brazil has 5,000 cities and local policies impact the lives of 200 million people. Still, most cities don’t have transparency portals. They’re like data deserts, but those cities do have information locked in the shape of old printed newspapers just like two centuries ago, the official gazettes or diaries in Portuguese. They’re usually in PDF with no structured data. We unlock that mess of text, enabling friendly searches, then we share this data on an API, so third parties can also develop applications. It’s already been used to monitor environmental and education policies. Now, we cover cities where nearly one in four Brazilians live, and it’s growing. Querido Diario is possible because it’s open. People help us build the code to scrape information. Universities also collaborate with us. Official information on public matters is crucial to fight myth and disinformation. It helps make sense amid the information deluge. Querido Diario enables a healthier ecosystem by making this valuable data available to everyone.

Speaker 17 (04:31:43):

The Digital Public Goods Alliance and UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and Chief Digital Office are highlighting open source solutions for a more trustworthy and informed future. False, manipulated, and hateful information is undermining truth and trust, but there is hope. Passionate technologists are fighting back. Here is one of their stories.

Brandi Geurkink (04:32:24):

Hi, my name is Brandy Geurkink. I am based in Berlin, Germany, and I work for the Mozilla Foundation as part of a team that developed Regrets Reporter, which is the world’s largest crowdsource investigation into YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. We decided to develop Regrets Reporter because YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is one of the most impactful consumer AI systems that people interact with every single day. The recommendation algorithm drives more than 700 million hours of watch time on the platform, yet it’s incredibly opaque and nobody outside of YouTube really has any way to understand how the algorithm works, and importantly, what kinds of content it’s recommending to people. We decided to build Regrets Reporter to get more information about what kinds of things that are being recommended on the platform and provide the research community with more access to data to be able to understand and investigate some of these things, and ultimately, to hold YouTube accountable. Our research has found that the platform recommends videos that violate, for instance, their very own community guidelines in terms of service.

Speaker 17 (04:33:39):

The Digital Public Goods Alliance and UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and Chief Digital Office are highlighting open source solutions for a more trustworthy and informed future. False, manipulated, and hateful information is undermining truth and trust, but there is hope. Passionate technologists are fighting back. Here is one of their stories.

Angela Oduor Lungati (04:34:20):

Hi, my name is Angela Oduor Lungati. I’m the executive director of Ushahidi, which is a global nonprofit technology company that empowers people through citizen generated data to develop solutions that strengthen their communities. I am based in Nairobi, Kenya, and the rest of my team is spread out across the world. Ushahidi was born out of the post-election violence that broke out in Kenya back in 2007, 2008, and the problem back then was that many of us were stuck in our houses not knowing exactly what was happening in different parts of the country, and so the Ushahidi founders came together and set up an open source platform that enabled ordinary citizens to share messages via SMS, emails, tweets, or even via the web platform, and have that directly influence a kind of humanitarian response that was going to be provided during that time.

Since then, we really focused on making sure that we are providing an open source tool that is easily accessible and affordable so that we are doing our part to make data and technology accessible to everyone. Initially, the focus was on making sure that people were able to go out to vote, but as time has gone by, we’ve noticed that there is an onslaught on our data ecosystem. It’s being extremely corrupted by mis and disinformation.

Speaker 17 (04:35:37):

The Digital Public Goods Alliance and UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and Chief Digital Office are highlighting open source solutions for a more trustworthy and informed future. False, manipulated, and hateful information is undermining truth and trust, but there is hope. Passionate technologists are fighting back. Here is one of their stories.

Helena Puig Larrauri (04:36:18):

Hello, my name is Helena, and I’m one of the co-founders of Build Up, a global nonprofit that works to transform conflict. We have partnered with datavaluepeople, a collective of data scientists and developers, to produce Phoenix, an open source tool designed for peacebuilders and mediators to analyze digital media and tackle information pollution. Information pollution exacerbates societal divides in communities across the world. Patterns of digital content consumption and interaction are intertwined with polarization, dehumanization, and violence. It is a complex problem that paralyzes conflict responders with confusion. Peacebuilders today need a fine-grained understanding of disinformation pollution. Phoenix scrapes and tabulates digital media content and then uses AI to automate classifications designed by and with peacebuilders to enable detailed digital conflict analysis that provides actionable insights. Phoenix has been deployed to date in 11 countries serving over 20 organizations. Ultimately, we hope to make tools reusable by any local peacebuilder that can support digital media analysis in the communities and languages they think are important. The open source model is key to this because it will enable customization and community driven development that may exceed our own vision.

Speaker 17 (04:37:33):

The Digital Public Goods Alliance and UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and Chief Digital Office are highlighting open source solutions for a more trustworthy and informed future. False, manipulated, and hateful information is undermining truth and trust, but there is hope. Passionate technologists are fighting back. Here is one of their stories.

Denny George (04:38:15):

My name is Denny George, and I’m the tech lead and co-founder of Tattle Civic Technologies. We build tools and data sets to understand and respond to harmful and inaccurate content in India. We began work on Feluda after noticing an increasing amount of misinformation amongst the messages consumed by our family members on WhatsApp. In India, as in most of the global south, people communicate on chat apps and social media using not just text, but also images and videos and audios. We’ve built a tool that makes it really easy to understand and query multimodal data sets. Feluda makes it easy to find similar images and videos.

This can make fact-checking more efficient as well as accessible. It can also help you find insights about what themes are popular at the moment as well as detect coordinated campaigns. Misinformation research and response will require a multi-pronged approach, and Feluda being open source enables independent groups to use it and customize it without being tied to a particular use case or a company. Feluda is multipurpose and domain agnostic in that it can help you tackle climate misinformation, health misinformation, as well as political misinformation. It can also help you analyze large number of media items and find trends in them. This can greatly optimize workflows for fact-checking, content moderation, as well as hate speech detection.

Speaker 17 (04:39:31):

The Digital Public Goods Alliance and UNDPs Oslo Governance Centre and Chief Digital Office are highlighting open source solutions for a more trustworthy and informed future. False, manipulated, and hateful information is undermining truth and trust, but there is hope. Passionate technologists are fighting back. Here is one of their stories.

Matti Schneider (04:40:13):

My name is Matti Schneider. I lead Open Terms Archive, a digital common incubated by the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs and maintained by a distributed community. The idea for Open Terms Archive emerged from my experience defending the European elections against disinformation. My team demonstrated that the advertisement- based business model of large social media platforms provide incentive to keep open the vulnerabilities that enable this information. We concluded that directing defensively to specific attacks would be a never ending battle and a losing one. Our goal is this to shift the balance of power from large platforms towards the common good. Open Terms Archive reinforces actors who motivate platforms to close their vulnerabilities to information manipulation. We publicly track changes to terms of services and notify an ecosystem of researchers, regulators, lawmakers, consumer protection NGOs, and media outlets that improves their reactiveness, precision, and scale in assessing loyalty and compliance and in drafting regulation. They trust Open Terms Archive because anyone can audit our open source code and everyone is encouraged to contribute.

Speaker 17 (04:41:20):

The Digital Public Goods Alliance and UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and Chief Digital Office are highlighting open source solutions for a more trustworthy and informed future. False, manipulated, and hateful information is undermining truth and trust, but there is hope. Passionate technologists are fighting back. Here is one of their stories.

Laura Edelson (04:42:01):

Hi, my name is Laura Edelson. I’m a computer scientist and a postdoctoral researcher at New York University. During my PhD research during the 2020 election, I studied the spread of misinformation in digital political ads on Facebook and how deceitful advertisers attempted to evade the security and transparency measures the platforms like Facebook put in place to protect users. In the course of that research, I realized that my team and I were sitting on a trove of data and analytical tools that could be very helpful to journalists and other researchers in academia and civil society who are also trying to spot and call attention to misinformation in social media ads.

To make our data and analysis available to everyone, we built Ad Observatory, a site for finding and visualizing spending on political ads during elections on Facebook. For example, users could see spend by topic, candidate, or state for every congressional and the presidential race. In 2022, we open sourced the code for the website and the data collection and analysis pipeline that feeds it, and now we’re working with teams in Australia and Europe to help them adapt Ad Observatory for elections in their own countries. We hope that Ad Observatory will become a tool that’s used in every democracy to give the public more functional transparency into digital and political advertising.

Speaker 17 (04:43:22):

The Digital Public Goods Alliance and UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and Chief Digital Office are highlighting open source solutions for a more trustworthy and informed future. False, manipulated, and hateful information is undermining truth and trust, but there is hope. Passionate technologists are fighting back. Here is one of their stories.

Sarah Barrington (04:44:04):

Hi, I’m Sarah Barrington.

Romit Barua (04:44:06):

And I’m Romit Barua.

Sarah Barrington (04:44:07):

We are graduate students at UC Berkeley, working with our lab mate, Gautham Koorma, on tackling deepfake misinformation.

Romit Barua (04:44:14):

Our lab is led by Professor Hany Farid, a war leader in computational forensics and image analysis.

Sarah Barrington (04:44:20):

Recently, we’ve watched how misinformation has evolved from text campaigns and social media into the visual domain. Most concerningly, the speed and accessibility of modern AI methods means that convincing fake videos and audio can be generated by the click of a button and by anyone with an internet connection.

Romit Barua (04:44:38):

We’ve seen the devastating consequences of deepfake videos circulating online from the use of faces of world leaders to spread dangerous warfare misinformation to CEOs of global companies being fooled out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, seeing is truly no longer believing and the definition of trust is being redefined.

Sarah Barrington (04:44:55):

Through our work, we have developed a research method to ascertain whether a person is the true subject of audiovisual content. Not only can we tell if the person is real, but we can detect the source architecture by which the deepfake video was created. So far, our methodologies have shown impressive accuracy in detecting audio deepfakes. Although, these tend to be perceptually very hard for humans to differentiate.

Romit Barua (04:45:19):

Ultimately, our methods can be used to prove the authenticity of audiovisual content for real everyday internet civilians and rebuild trust in what we see on the internet.

Speaker 17 (04:45:29):

The Digital Public Goods Alliance and UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and Chief Digital Office are highlighting open source solutions for a more trustworthy and informed future. False, manipulated, and hateful information is undermining truth and trust, but there is hope. Passionate technologists are fighting back. Here is one of their stories.

Emily Boardman Ndulue (04:46:11):

My name is Emily Boardman Ndulue, and I’m a researcher with the Media Cloud Project. Myself and most of our team are based here in Boston, Massachusetts. Media Cloud was developed over 10 years ago at first to answer a rather pointed question, what influence was the burgeoning blogosphere having on the mainstream media agenda and media discourse? That simple question soon became much more complex, and over the past 10 years, we’ve added over 60,000 news media sources globally into our system. We crawl the open web. We have APIs to connect social media platforms.

We’re really trying to understand information flows on the internet widely and the digital public sphere. This information is really critical for our understanding and beginning to combat the problem of mis and disinformation. When you have a clear sense of the information circulating online, then you have a fact-based way of analyzing the problem and developing solutions. Openness is so key for our project and for the ability to use it to combat those issues of mis and disinformation. When we built our project, the entire code base is open source. We’re crawling the open web. Everything about our project aims to be open and transparent.

Speaker 17 (04:47:24):

The Digital Public Goods Alliance and UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and Chief Digital Office are highlighting open source solutions for a more trustworthy and informed future.

Speaker 18 (04:47:56):

To support my research on housing prices in DC, I interviewed Melissa Bradley, who is an advisory board member for the DC Policy Center. The mission of the DC Policy Center is to arm decision makers with fact-based, unbiased, and reliable research and analysis to help create a vibrant local economy that can maximize opportunities for residents, workers, and businesses in the District of Columbia. Through objective and rigorous research and collaboration, the DC Policy Center develops and test policy ideas, distributes its findings, actively promotes policy solutions, and engages in constructive dialogue and debate. What drew you to DC initially?

Melissa Bradley (04:48:32):

I came to Washington DC to be a student at Georgetown University, and since graduation, I have remained in the District of Columbia as a resident. During my time and tenure at Georgetown, I had the privilege to live in DC and I’ve also lived in Maryland, but I completely enjoy DC. Being original native from New York City, it’s much more akin to where I grew up.

Speaker 18 (04:48:55):

Since you’ve been here so long, what trends have you seen in the renting and housing market?

Melissa Bradley (04:49:03):

It’s important for us to remember that in the District of Columbia, the majority of people are actually renters in the district, and so when you think about square footage in this town, you begin to realize that I think it’s over 60% of folks are renters, which is pretty significant. In fact, in 2020, we had 60% of the folks, the residents of the district have only rented, and so recognizing that when you get into a rental situation with the allowance of annual increases that are sometimes pegged to cost of living, sometimes pegged to maintenance and wear and tear on buildings, recognizing that a significant amount of buildings in the District of Columbia, I should say, are aged.

Speaker 18 (04:49:50):

Since going to school here, what have you noticed about the housing prices since you were looking for a place to live when you first got here and now?

Melissa Bradley (04:49:58):

I came to Washington DC in 1985, I graduated from Georgetown in 1989, and I set out to find my first apartment. As somebody who was making just about $100,000, I realized very early on that I could not afford to live in the District of Columbia, so my roommate and I actually lived in Virginia, which I think is indicative of what many people end up doing, that they come to DC for some compelling reason, but recognized that over time, because historically, the wage prices have not kept up with rental prices or even home purchasing prices, that you begin to see ebbs and flows of people living in the city for a short duration and then having to leave because, again, their wage does not allow them to keep up with the rising prices in the District of Columbia.

Speaker 18 (04:50:45):

Since you’ve been here and seen all these changes, what are some solutions or suggestions to help create more affordable housing?

Melissa Bradley (04:50:53):

I think there’s a few. One is something that is actually available, which is any developer who comes to the District of Columbia and seeks any kind of bond or tiffs or any kind of financial support from the city is actually required to make sure that all new units have affordable units in there, and so that is something that’s on the books and I think has helped improve the situation.

Speaker 18 (04:51:14):

How do you think, us, as young people can contribute to this solution?

Melissa Bradley (04:51:18):

I think one, a lot of things. I mean housing is a regulated industry, and so I think we have to recognize that education or the financial institutions or health regulation is important, and so I think it’s useful for young people to understand the policies on the books, that there are local policies, state policies, and federal policies, and that when they vote, make sure they understand who they’re voting for and what their beliefs are around housing.

Stephanie Rice (04:51:54):

The housing prices in Northern Virginia have increased in value annually by 146.5% or 8.2% on average from July of 1999 to July of 2017. However, the costs were diminishing pre 2008 recession around 2006 and 2007 until 2013 when the housing price exceeded the peak housing cost before the town turned off $501,556 in July of 2005. Housing price is now average between $500,000 and two million depending on the area of Northern Virginia and how old the house is. Since 2011, there have been a net domestic reduction of around 25,000 people in the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors or NVAR region as more people have moved out than moved in from other parts of the US due to home prices rising faster than income and wage growth. This trend seems to be slowing down as the number of housing sales decreases as shown in the housing data sale from April of 2023.

Although this occurs in all types of housing, it is especially noticeable in family housing since families are busy trying to support themselves with their inadequate wages, which makes caring for a home more difficult. Taking care of the bills is important to prevent eviction. However, bills in Northern Virginia are extremely expensive. Fairfax, Virginia residents pay an average of $191 per month on electricity. This amounts to $2,292 each year. This is 15% more expensive than the national average power bill of $1,987. Northern Virginia has less expensive internet since the national average of internet is $84 per month. The average American water bill is $45.44 per month compared to the average of $250 per month in Northern Virginia. The example I have provided is that of a five person family living in Northern Virginia in general. In May of 2021, 100 acres swath of old forests ranging from 50 to 100 years in age was cut down to develop large houses with five acre bonds in Fairfax County.

Builders tried to compensate for the missing trees with saplings. However, they could not replace the efficient carbon processing of the 100-year-old tree due to their youth. The saplings are mostly planted for decoration rather than for the environment. Gentrification typically contributes to the loss of trees, which can be shown in the protests that took place in December of 2022 regarding the gentrification of the South towers in Alexandria, Virginia. The South Towers were purchased by a Los Angeles based private real estate company for $506 million in 2020. It was also noticeable that the demographic of the complex was approximately two-thirds of the residence of Southern Towers were black and over 60% of the residents are foreign born, which seem to give a racist angle. Overall, Virginia needs to strengthen their laws for conservation of forests and wildlife to prevent adverse effects on the environment, promote racial equality, which is affecting the housing market, and increase wages in order for Northern Virginians to afford the expensive housing situation in their area, which would lead to a decrease in homelessness. Thank you.

Adam Gibson (04:56:14):

Each generation faces specific challenges. George Washington’s generation face a challenge of breaking away from a colonial power. For what is often called the greenest generation, it was dividing authoritarianism. Civil rights activists in the ’60s worked on breaking down inequality as in working towards equal rights for all. We still face these issues today. Our generation faces the urgent challenge of transforming our relationship with the Earth, its living things, and its resources. To do this, we need to reimagine how we use its resources, to emit what we use and what we waste. To move towards a circular economy, we need to know how to properly recycle, but a lot of people are confused about how exactly they should do that. In my county, around 14% of the things

Speaker 19 (04:57:00):

… things in the recycling stream aren’t actually recycled. When things that don’t belong are putting to a recycling stream, it can cause a lot of problems. Often contaminants and recycling can cause a whole load to be distorted as waste.

My project is to teach my peers about how they should properly recycle. And since people always learn better when they’re having fun, I created a load game to showcase this. It’s called Sort the Trash, Recycling and Compost. Want to have a try? Here is a styrofoam container. Do you know where it goes? That’s right. Not the recycling but the trash. What about an aluminum can? That’s right, the recycling if it is clean, dry, and empty. And what about this, banana peel? Compost, if composting is available. Each place has slightly different rules, but learning how to recycle properly is one simple step to making sure we are using earth’s resources wisely. A similar game to this will be presented at my school, where my peers will have their own chance to sort their recycling, trash and composting, along with receiving an informational flyer at that.

Leen Khdeir (04:58:27):

Recycling is a great way to reduce waste, but it’s just one step in our efforts to protect the planet. Another powerful tool at our disposal is reusing. By extending the lifespan of everyday products, we can decrease the amount of waste being recycled or sent to landfills.

Whether it’s at home in our communities or even within our neighborhoods, we can all embrace this principle of reusing. Take a moment to look around you and think about the different items you use on a daily basis. Can they be repurposed or given a new life instead of being discarded? By adopting this mindset of reusing, we can reduce our environmental footprint and decrease the amount of waste in landfills, but we don’t have to stop there.

That’s why I initiated a workshop as part of my project aiming to help people of all ages explore the practical application of reusing in our daily lives. My workshop consists of three main stations. First, we have the upcycled craft station, which gives you the opportunity to unleash your creativity and transform a variety of materials from cardboard to newspapers and magazines. By repurposing these items, not only will you experience the joy of reusing, but also actively minimize waste.

Next, we have the fabrics craft station. Dive into the world of fabric remnants and learn how to repurpose them into beautiful creations like mini pillows, cute teddy bears or even string bags. By giving a new life to fabric scraps, you’ll contribute to sustainable practices in the fashion and textile industry.

Finally, we have the gardening oasis station. Prepare to be amazed as we embark on a journey of repurposing, where common items like plastic containers, plastic bottles and vases are used and transformed into charming pots for your seedlings. By embracing this creative approach, you’ll not only connect with nature, but also play a vital role in fostering sustainable food production.

These stations are not only about creativity and fun, they invite you to make a difference in your own life, incorporate their principles of reusing into your daily routine. Throw away unused items, bring reusable bags, repurpose containers, and find new uses for fabric scraps. Remember, every small step counts.

Eliza Lamster (05:00:57):

My idea for this project really began at the beginning of this year. In my environmental science class, we all took these eco footprint quizzes to understand and to contextualize our impact on our environment. And my results told me that if everyone lived the way I do, we would need 6.6 earths. That’s a lot of earths.

And what was especially surprising is that the website told me that a lot of my impact actually came from the food I was eating, even though I never really considered myself to be someone who eats a lot of environmentally destructive food or anything like that. And so, I really decided to focus on this issue for my project. Through this I learned that what we consume actually has a really substantial impact on the environment. For example, to grow corn, all you need is the crop itself, maybe some water or some soil. Once the plant is ripe, it just needs to be harvested and then it can be consumed directly.

However, the process of preparing meat for consumption is much more costly. Not only does the cow require space and water, it also needs to eat grain, which has to be grown using more of these resources. And in this way, meat has a really outsized effect on the environment. I also for this project, decided to make a poster because I wanted to inform others of this issue, which I really had no idea about. For example, I heard that eating beef is really bad for the environment because cows release meth. But I didn’t realize how big an impact this actually had.

For some actual qualitative numbers, to prepare 50 grams of protein from beef, 17.7 kilograms of CO2 are released. However, only 2.9 kilograms of CO2 are released if this protein is from poultry and that number is 0.1 kilograms from nuts. As you can see, the type of protein we choose to eat has a really big impact on our carbon emissions and our eco footprint in general. And so, I made this poster hopefully to show others about this impact and to inspire some change.

Speaker 20 (05:02:55):

Hello, everyone. Today we’re here, seven students, six from France and one from Moldova. In order to present you our project about space, thanks to the Smithsonian Science and Education Center.

Speaker 21 (05:03:07):

We are going to present how can we fight heat by transforming spaces.

Speaker 22 (05:03:14):

Chișinău now is the capital city of Moldova and it is known for its green spaces and for being the economic, political and cultural hub of Moldova. The city takes pride for its developed wine industry being the best place to get wine from all around the country.

Speaker 23 (05:03:28):

Vieilles Charrues, a French city located in the southwest of the country. The population is about 50,000 inhabitants. And the city is surrounded with a lot of small villages. Moreover the city is known for its books fair, it’s famous rugby team and its music festival.

Speaker 24 (05:03:49):

One of the reason why we chose this project is because we can have a real impact on your space at different level. In your previous space, in your school, so it’s a project, for example. But also at the level of your city. Indeed, we can propose your ideas to the local console so we can take action very concretely.

Speaker 25 (05:04:10):

Heat waves and climate change will not go away overnight. As young students, we need to feel involved and act quickly before it’s too late. We must optimize the space we have to make it respectful of the planet and to slow down the effects of climate change.

Speaker 26 (05:04:30):

… topic, hence to find solutions to hot temperature because it’s really dangerous for some category of people, like old people or handicapped people.

Speaker 22 (05:04:43):

As a result of the industrial revolution in the 18th century, climate change has become one of the biggest threats facing humanity. In 2022 alone, tens of thousands of deaths have been caused by heat waves all across the European continent.

Speaker 25 (05:04:57):

In the last 50 years, unprecedented temperatures have been recorded and it is not getting better. Indeed, if we don’t take actions to reduce the effects of climate change, the earth will warm up by 1.5 degrees, so we need to find solutions.

Speaker 21 (05:05:14):

One of the solution is white painting. Indeed, white reflects the sun beam. We can see that with grasses for example. If we paint our roofs in white, heat will not go into our house but will be reflected into the atmosphere. It can reduce our roof’s temperature from 30 degrees. Our building will be cooler and it’ll break this vicious circle where it’s hot so we put air conditioning. But it emits a lot of carbon dioxide, so it’s even more hot because we could use less air conditioning. In California, for example, it work and white painting is now mandatory for new building with a flat roof.

Speaker 24 (05:06:09):

Some scientists explained that we can reduce the average of the temperature in your city if we multiply the green space area. First tree create shadow, but they are also a natural air conditioner. In fact, they slow rain down. Consequently, the evaporation of the rain is more slow and contribute to humidify the air. Trees also have the same impact because the water stay in the soil and contribute to humidify the earth too. Besides the tarmac absorbs the lights and amplifies temperature of the earth. [inaudible 05:06:46] substitute tarmac for green space and tree can reduce significantly the heat of sun rays.

Speaker 20 (05:06:55):

Research in recent years has demonstrated that urban surface waters to urban blue spaces can provide beneficial effects on human health and wellbeing. Blue space is an urban designed term for visible water. And attractive blue spaces such as waterfront parks, open air streams, lakes, canals, forest marinas are thought to improve quality of life and to moderate urban heat islands.

Speaker 26 (05:07:19):

To conclude, we can say that spaces has an impact on temperature because in term of which space that they are in the city, they are more or less heat. For instance, urban areas are hotter than rural areas. To prevent high temperatures in the town, we have some solutions, as we have said before.

Speaker 23 (05:07:43):

The solution allowed to have more shade and less heat absorption. However, there are some downsides to our solutions. First, it would be complicated to make our ideas a reality because it’s a little bit expensive, then sometimes it will be necessary to destroy areas in the city and then to rebuild it. And finally, to have those spaces, a water resource is required, which is not the case in all cities.

Saul Mendoza (05:08:22):

Hi, I’m Saul Mendoza. I’m from Mexico and I am a high school student. The high school is Epoem 314 and this is my presentation. I’m working on a project that I called an approach to the SDGs in my community through traveling workshop.

Main goal, create traveling workshops to address some of the SDGs most relevant for my community. Specific goals. First, analyze my community context so we can design traveling workshops and be able as community to be aware of the importance of SDGs in our community issues and take action to resolve them. Second, develop at least three pilot workshops in my school community.

A series of presentation on the 2030 agenda were carried out. And from this, we surveyed our school community to determine which SDGs could be the priority to attend to so we can be able to design and implement our traveling workshops considering the context. My community is located in a municipality where the gender alert has been stated since 2015 due to the large number of femicides and educational inequality. That is the why the first workshop we made was on the objective of gender equality, addressing the Matilda Effect that talks about the difficulties that women have had and have when developing in scientific fields. It was really enriching.

The national botanical garden was used to implement plant propagation techniques, analyzing the importance of this species, recognizing the ones that are endemic and what we need to do in order to preserve them. In the workshop, cactus and succulent variants and ornaments such as living pictures were generated. Teachers, parents, and students participated in this activity.

My school community was particularly interested in this workshop. We were able to obtain the carbon footprint of different goods and services such as food and clothing. Some proposals to take action were stated from the community itself, such as the reduction and use of vermicompost that were used, reused and recycling waste resources and use of clean energy. With this, the whole practices set out in this project are met. It will seek to implement them outside the school community and generate new proposals to address the SDGs. Thank you and have a nice day.

Sara Becerra Murrieta (05:11:47):

Hi, I’m Sara from Mexico. I’m high school student Epoem 314. I’m talking about my project, which is called wastewater sustainable treatment. Main goal, create sustainable proposal to treat the waste water produce in my school community. Specific goals, conduct research and analyze of the community’s water quality and level of water stress to propose contextualized solutions. Our research was carry off of the water vulnerability of my school community location. The results was alarming since we’re in high and very high vulnerability status. With highways of origin need to implement water treatment systems. We proceeded to carry out difference analysis of properties of the waste water proposed to be treated, with the attention of knowing it’s physical chemical properties and determining what type of the system is better to use to achieve favorable results.

Considering the research carry out on the water analysis obtained is what decided the best system for your community is a biological one, using the principles of an artificial wetland as well as hydroponics. This what also determined that initially only the water used in the sinks will be treated free of oils as suspended solid material. This system designed to decide in its original size, determining a space and cost. The next steps are now with all the information obtained, we are proceeding to speak with educational authorities to explain the benefits of the project in the medium or long term so that they authorize the allocation of resources and we can begin to build our system. Thank you for attention and have a nice day.

Speaker 27 (05:14:49):

Hi, I come from France and I will present ensure hydroelectricity. Basically hydroelectricity is a form of renewable energy that uses the power of moving water to generate electricity. Hydroelectric dams create vast hydrostatic potential energy stores, move large amounts of water through turbines and spin generators that produce electricity.

As you can see, hydroelectricity is made thanks to many things. First of all, a source of water, for example, river. Also generator and turbine, for example. Electricity can be really important. Indeed, it’s an energy source that makes a contribution to committed climate change because it avoids the use of fossil fuels and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

It is also a clean source because it generates electricity without emitting greenhouse gases or other products. It is also a resource that’s available in many countries which can produce energy in a more self-sufficient and sustainable way.

Hydroelectricity is the second source of electricity production and the first source of renewable electricity in France. It represents 49% of the production. As you can see, most of the hydroelectric sites a located in mountain ranges, like Alps and Pyrenees. France Hydro Électricité is the national syndicates which represents the green energies. It’s owned 700 hydroelectric sites and also 170 suppliers serving the hydroelectric sector.

This is one of the hydroelectric sites located in France. It’s called Le Saillant. This hydroelectric dams works with a different step. The first one is as a potential energy. The second one is turning the hydroelectric turbine. Then it’s capturing the flow of electricity, which is created by the generators spinning and then capturing and transmitting hydroelectric power.

Joseph Duran (05:17:23):

Space as an issue of sustainability is a very broad topic that has implications in social, economic and political world. Whether you’re discussing the best separation of space to most effectively allocate your resources or deciding on whether or not to buy a house in a specific location, there’s a lot involved. In this video, my five partners and myself will discuss issues that we see in our respective communities and how we have devised an action plan to solve said issues.

Samantha Cowen (05:17:49):

Welcome to the 2.7 square mile Bellhaven watershed, where 69% of land is developed and 41% of these developed spaces are residential areas. Although we’re grateful to have so much space for housing, the freshwater animals in the surrounding river lose more and more habitat space each day due to water quality issues.

Around 2014, the local stream physical assessment rated the Bellhaven watershed with the poorest water quality in Fairfax County, with excess levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. But how is developed and residential land at fault? Most residences maintain their large lawns using pesticides and fertilizers, and these chemical pollutants are carried across impervious surfaces like parking lots and roadways. They then enter our stormwater system where pollutants make their way into the Potomac and later the Chesapeake Bay.

Therefore, we need a dual solution. To save our river, we need to limit the use of both impervious surfaces and pesticides. First, to prevent the use of chemical fertilizers, we need to search for alternatives like composting. Composting can be done quickly anytime and anywhere using a tumbler system like this one. Citizens will be rewarded with healthy soil that can be used to bring nutrients to your garden.

Finally, to prevent runoff itself requires a more structural and systematic approach through our stormwater management system, that can be aided by the actions of schools like Bellevue Elementary where they’ve created wetlands and fertile gardens to collect and filter runoff.

Emily Noh (05:19:09):

My community, there’s the W&OD trail spanning 45 miles, which provides runners, bikers, and others a path through nature in historic paths. There’s many green spaces branching off as well, like creeks, gardens, and much more, which also are a hotspot for biodiversity. To start off our action plan, I joined my environmental science club at my school to pick up trash at the side of this trail.

I also decided to take a look into what my county was doing for the environment. Fair Fest County states that their goal of reducing 251 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent would be strived through primarily with maintaining creating green spaces and expanding tree canopy. This would achieve 2% of the emission reductions in their 2050 carbon neutrality goal.

Another goal is to expand the tree canopy by 60% by 2050 as they and green spaces reduce the urban heat land effect, which is when dense accumulations and quantities of buildings, pavements and other surfaces that absorb and store heat supersede natural land cover. A recent development was the Passed House Bill 1510, which would offer various Virginia locations to have the opportunity to offer optimized incentives like a quicker permit approval process or reduce project permit fees for urban green space development.

Anwita Mittal (05:20:16):

Another action plan to put forward in my community is deforestation and loss of natural habitat. In my school, in my community, where I live nearby, there are so many more trees being cut down and this affects the biodiversity of the flora and fauna that live there. This is an image of construction near my school.

To find a solution, one can speak to their local, state or national tree commission. In order to fundraise for this issue, one can speak through people and raise awareness through the internet, through posters and just among speaking between neighborhoods and friends. In the future, prevention of further deforestation can be done by limiting how much space residential areas can take up. There can be more natural green areas and there can be a limited amount of land able to construct on. This will create a self-sustainable community for our ecosystem. Thank you.

Layla Hunter (05:21:17):

Hi, everyone. I’m Layla Hunter, and my concrete action plan is about addressing the unequal distribution of shared spaces in Fairfax County. To address unequal distributions of shared spaces in Fairfax County, we must acknowledge the issue and raise awareness among community members, government officials, and stakeholders.

Historical factors such as segregation and redlining, have contributed to disparities in access, particularly in lower income areas and communities of color. To effectively address the issue, it is important to engage in meaningful conversations with key stakeholders. In general, actions that can be made include encouraging developers and investors to prioritize the creation of shared spaces in underserved communities, and collaborating with nonprofit organizations and local educational institutions to offer programs and activities that promote access to shared spaces.

To ensure sustainability and addressing unequal distribution of shared spaces, a crucial step is developing a long-term plan. This can involve establishing community led committees or organizations to oversee maintenance and improvement and empowering local residents to advocate for their communities. Thank you.

Joseph Duran (05:22:36):

Hello, my name is Joseph Duran and I am from Miami, Florida. My school campus covers over 33 acres of land, most of which is used for building and construction projects. Although these projects are innovative and benefit the school community, they crowd out potential for natural space and growth on our campus.

Now I was fortunate enough to participate in a capstone project with the Smithsonian Institute last year in which I was able to carry out a real action plan to combat this issue. I led a group of students in researching, funding and carrying out a plan in which we partnered with the school’s horticultural department as well as local nurseries to receive native South Floridian plants and plant them on our campus and sectioned off areas. The project was a success and now is being taken up and continued by younger students to maintain this natural manmade balance.

Zoe Jung (05:23:24):

Hello, my name is Zoe Jung and I’m from Flower Mound, Texas. Right next to my home, a new mixed use community of 155 plus acres has recently been built and is still undergoing construction. It offers restaurants, a grocery store, small businesses, a movie theater and trails. CNA hotel as well. It is the first walkable community of our town.

However, the average rent for these apartments cost upwards of about 2,500 to $4,000. What was supposed to be an in for those unable to afford the high rent in Flower Mount turned into another developer project. That isn’t to say that there aren’t many prospects to live in Flower Mount. We have excellent public education. We have noted species. We maintain low crime rates. All of this is crucial.

However, we lack two essential elements, walkability and affordability. While my town has reached a maximum level of new development, I’m writing to my local, state and federal government officials to enact legislation that will support communities that are both walkable and affordable. Life could be better when living in an affordable community where all our needs are met in a walkable radius. Thank you.

Brevin de Jesus (05:24:21):

Hi, my name is Brevin de Jesus, and I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Brielle (05:24:25):

Hi, everyone. My name is Brielle. I’m a current sophomore in high school and I live in the Richmond, Virginia area.

Serge Pitinta (05:24:37):

Hi, my name is Serge Pitinta, and I live in [inaudible 05:24:39], in the north of France.

Alice (05:24:38):

Hi, my name is Alice and I live in [inaudible 05:24:41] in the center of France.

Suah (05:24:43):

Hi, my name is Suah and I live in South Korea, a place where public transportation systems are phenomenal in accessibility and reliability.

Brevin de Jesus (05:24:54):

The biggest problem that I found through my research with the Smithsonian Science Education Center is just the lack of communication. The lack of communication between the public and the local transit system, the HRT, or the Hampton Roads Transit.

Serge Pitinta (05:25:07):

One issue with public transportation in my community is the accessibility, since the bus system only travels within a small section of our city. I live right outside the city and I’m not able to use the public transportation system to go to places from my house, which I noticed is a reason that a lot of people opt out from this free form of transportation.

Anwita Mittal (05:25:29):

The main issue that I noticed in my area is that the access to diverse public transportation is too low since we just have the bus to go at school or in other and bigger cities. We also have an old railroad system that exists, but it is not currently in use and there isn’t any station.

Suah (05:25:55):

The two major systems are prominent in my daily life here. Number one being the metro systems and the second being bus systems. Metro systems are very safe. There are glass doors that prevent any contact and damage from trains to people. They are very wide and spacious that make them accessible and big enough for many people at a time.

There is little to no miscommunication with the passengers as there are AI systems that show where the train is, when the trains will arrive. There are limited delays, so it is a very reliable system. There are no high fares, which makes it more accessible. And they are a more sustainable format of transportation as they are the most environmentally friendly mass transit method.

The bus systems are very heavily in place in South Korea as well, having 218.5 kilometers of bus lanes. There is also, just like the metro systems, little to no miscommunication as there are AI systems in place, there are no high fares. And are very sustainable in the format of transportation as they are more fuel efficient than personal vehicles.

However, despite its superlative mass transits, cars still dominate much of the street-scape. Instead of having the ability to cut down its carbon footprints, South Korea suffers from heavy traffic congestion, poor air quality, and excessive global carbon emissions. In fact, Korea has the worst air quality out of all OECD nation.

So many countries look to build world-class public transit-free cities, but looking at the case in South Korea, will that alone really free them for mass pollution? South Korea is still struggling just by having these phenomenal systems in place.

Alice (05:28:00):

As I live in a rural zone, the best network has to be very developed to connect the various surrounding the villages, and it is rarely the case. But I noticed that the main issue are the schedules which are not adapted to the needs of all, especially for the surrounding villages. Even if 14 lines of bus are in service all year, it is not sufficient to connect all the conglomeration. Plus the map of the different lines and the schedules are difficult to access and not always up to date.

Serge Pitinta (05:28:36):

The first thing that the ones from my community associate as one of the causes is that our local government does not allocate a very high budget on transportation and their development. The second one I think is important to notice is that I live in a small city in the countryside, is that the possibility of having a well functionable train or metro transit is almost non-existent.

Alice (05:29:07):

The first cause of this problem in my community is a lack of attention paid to the communication of the bus network. In fact, the budget put into the transport is substantial, but the communication is more important if they want the improvement to be used. Moreover, they often put aside the surrounding places of conglomeration.

Brevin de Jesus (05:29:32):

Here we have a bunch of bus stops throughout all of Virginia Beach, but the problem is that whenever you look at the HRT’s website, they don’t have all these marked. This can lead to confusion and people not being able to get to work or being able to run errands such as getting groceries for them and their families.

Brielle (05:29:50):

Since many people cannot access transportation from outside the city, they often choose to use private forms of transportation coming into the city. This creates a ton of traffic

Speaker 28 (05:30:00):

… in our city, and makes it less efficient for people to get to places they need to.

Speaker 29 (05:30:05):

The lack of transportation causes an unsafe environment for those who still try to get around by walking or by bike, as there are only highway roads that allow traveling between the cities. This issue may also be the reason for a systemic non-activity of the countryside that leads to a massive way of rural exodus, mainly of the youths to be nearest as possible to the public services such as hospital, school, or university.

Alice (05:30:42):

The lack of buses leads to increased car use and can have consequences on the environment with pollution because the car have the heaviest impact with 16% of CO2 emissions, and on our health and wellbeing. Because world transport is responsible of 80% of noise pollution emitted into the environment, plus car use represents more than 10% of household budget.

Speaker 30 (05:31:17):

In my opinion, local transit systems need to change this. They need to update their websites to show all of these bus stops so people can get to work or run errands and just do things in their lives that people would usually do. With all this in mind, I believe that the best way to fix all of this, to fix our transit system is to help locate where our bus stops are and make it aware to the public. Thank you.

Speaker 28 (05:31:45):

This problem in my community will have to involve a lot of money and support by the people. We must speak to leaders of our public transportation system and ask for ways of how we can help them expand the busing system, while still making it accessible to all by keeping it free.

Speaker 29 (05:32:02):

Therefore, I think one of the only solution for my community’s issue is that we can develop and expand the already present way of transportations, but the more simple solution, even if it is not the less expensive, is that we can renovate the old infrastructures, like old unused highway roads and various stations. This solution is one of the best and the most sustainable to not destroy the natural spaces and biodiversity and still creating new public transportation for the locals all at the same time.

Speaker 31 (05:32:42):

If South Korea limits investments in roadway expansion, allocations of street spaces and road pricings, systems of metro and buses may have a bigger impact in reducing pollution. We must look upon the situation in South Korea to understand that efforts in making transportation more accessible and reliable does not end with a good public transit system in place. We must work together in educating others to think beyond the surface and find ways to make systems more eco-friendly and beneficial for all. Thank you.

Alice (05:33:24):

The solution as the main issue in my community can be to create different neighborhood concepts about the best network to allow people to explain what they find problematic and the best system, and why they don’t use it a lot. We would like to start with the easiest parts of this first. We would like to have our cities adding new stops in areas that might be lacking stops, as well as adding them in front of neighborhoods. This would allow people to have to walk only minutes away to a bus stop instead of having to walk a few miles just to take a public transit possibly.

While we are adding new bus stops throughout our towns or our cities, we can also make sure to update our local DOT websites to show all stops within the area as well as what times they show up. With this in mind and to make [inaudible 05:34:32] more efficient, we think that we should also start educating the public. We can start by having lessons be taught in schools related to how public transit is safer than people think it is. As well as educate on the benefits of transportation, such as it is efficient, it is effective, and overall it’s helping lower the carbon footprint that is put in place due to cars. With all of this in mind, we can believe this can take up to a few months to a year, and this will be phase one.

Speaker 29 (05:35:14):

Starting with phase two, we believe these next goals to take anywhere from a year to two years complete, which will require more time, resources, and money compared to phase one. To start with, we believe that we could either completely eliminate the bus fare system. By doing this, we are able to help those who might not be in the best financial state and can’t afford it. We also believed that we should get in talks with our neighboring cities and towns to try and connect to the best routes through set towns and cities. By doing so, it would allow for people who might not be able to travel with a personal vehicle to the neighboring areas. This is phase two.

Speaker 30 (05:36:16):

When coming up with phase three, we realized that this is probably going to take the most amount of time, like years upon years for this to get done. We noticed that it would take the most amount of time, money, resources, and labor possible. But with this we only had two ideas, with the first one being we wanted more frequent bus stops. With this, a lot of urbanized areas have bus stops that come maybe every hour or even less, but the problem with that is that people either can’t wait that long, they have to be somewhere as soon as they can, or their communities just don’t have bus stops that come that frequently. And with that in mind, we also wanted to try and get more funding pushed to our local department of transportations.

We realize that electric is our future and that we need to push for it as soon as possible. With this, we wanted to make almost all bus fleets electric by a certain timeframe, so then we don’t have to worry about it. At this point, we can then reduce our carbon footprints with our public vehicles, and there we go. With all this in mind, we hope that we can somehow make our communities a better place. Thank you.

Speaker 32 (05:37:30):

We’ve been working thus far on the problem of electricity and how the different communities we are in struggle with problems regarding electricity.

Cara (05:37:39):

Our project hopes to achieve outcomes that promote sustainable choices about the production and use of electricity. We specifically wish to encourage action by fostering a sense of responsibility in the community. We also hope to encourage action by inspiring people to adopt sustainable practices. Our project also aims to promote new practices in the energy sector that are both sustainable and efficient. We will highlight ways to address the challenge of making sustainable choices when it comes to electricity.

Claire (05:38:11):

Finally, we’ll also show some real life examples of electricity waste we noticed in our community and that we thought were important to talk about. Firstly, what are the problems, causes, and actions we worked on with regards to electricity? Here, the main problem is electricity waste or overuse. By not turning off a room’s light or by charging the phone all night, for example, people overuse this resource.

Speaker 32 (05:38:42):

Within my community, we have power outages constantly throughout the day for a couple hours at a time conducted by our country’s electricity company. When our power is indeed on, the members of our community need to realize that when the power is on, we need to conserve as much of it as possible, so as Claire mentioned, we overuse this resource.

Cara (05:39:05):

Many people and businesses simply aren’t aware of their wasteful electricity usage patterns. We also aren’t educated with renewable source options that are more sustainable. There are various causes that make it difficult for consumers to make sustainable choices with regards to electricity consumption. One reason for choosing less sustainable options is costs. Green electricity is often more expensive. People also lack both awareness of the environmental impact of their electricity choice and access to alternative renewable energy sources. It is common to have the sustainable electricity choices be less convenient.

Claire (05:39:46):

Another reason is that people generally don’t believe that they can have an impact. Out of eight billion people, it may be difficult to believe that one citizen can change things.

Cara (05:39:58):

One way to accomplish sustainability in our community is to tackle the choices surrounded our usage of electricity. Our community should be seeking ways to utilize renewable energy sources, increase energy efficiency, opt for renewable energy sources, reduce peak demand, and implement smart grids. Another impactful option is to encourage change of behavior.

Claire (05:40:22):

As to fight against this problem, I think we should demonstrate the impact of too much electricity usage on the planet and on people’s everyday life. In order to get to know our community better, we conducted surveys and interviews to better understand how the problem of electricity is affecting the community. Finally, another solution could be to set up time limits concerning the electricity usage by [inaudible 05:40:49] it’s use between 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM for example.

Cara (05:40:54):

Sustainable energy challenges can be tackled with policy change, education, and incentives, investments in sustainable technologies, as well as infrastructure will also support sustainable options for electric consumption.

Speaker 32 (05:41:08):

I think when my community experiences constant power outages for up to four hours a day, we could remind people that when the power is indeed on, they should switch off appliances they aren’t using, choose more energy-preserving lights, and we can provide educational videos teaching households how to conserve electricity, listing examples like I’ve mentioned above in the video. A lot of buildings at my university keep their lights on for up to 12 hours a day without turning them off, even when the buildings have natural light coming through them, so it’s not necessary to keep them on.

Claire (05:41:43):

Next, what have you discovered about your community that you didn’t know about before?

Cara (05:41:49):

I am from the East Coast of the United States, and I discovered a few interesting facts about electricity options that I was not aware of prior to this project. There is a program called net metering that allows a consumer with solar panels to sell their excess electricity back to a provider of electricity.

Another personal discovery I made was that there are community solar programs that allow the consumer to purchase a share in a solar project. In exchange, the consumer will receive a prorated credit on their electric bills for their share of the energy produced by that solar project. While I am aware of renewable energy source options like wind and solar, I was not aware of hydro and geothermal alternatives offered on the East Coast of the United States. These additional options of renewable energy sources directly reduced the carbon footprint of the consumers who elect them. While I lived in areas of the United States, like Arizona who offer type of use pricing, I was surprised to discover that this was also available on the East Coast.

Claire (05:42:57):

I learned that a huge part of my community would be more likely to act for the environment, whereas I thought that there wasn’t much interest in the environment. By doing this video, we wanted to impact as many people as possible. While working on this subject, I noticed small details such as the fact that even in places full of daylights, there are always a lot of lights turned on. For example, this is my school restaurant, and as you can see, there are a lot of lights turned on, even though it was during the middle of the day. I find it frustrating that all this electricity was used for useless reason.

Speaker 32 (05:43:42):

I know that more than half of our country has access to electricity of those who have access. Most of the energy consumption comes from industries. This was shocking to me because our country is already not living sustainably as it is with the high levels of electricity wastage, but to hear that most of the waste came from industries was quite disappointing. On the positive side, however, as I’ve been driving home every day from university classes, I’ve noticed that a few residential suburbs within my community have implemented solar power in their individual households to choose a more green electricity usage route.

Claire (05:44:21):

What research methods or approaches to learning more about what’s going on in your community did you use?

Cara (05:44:29):

I started my research by looking at my parents’ electric bill to get an idea of what is going on in my community. I also browsed the website of the electricity provider for my home. There was a wealth of information posted. I was aware of alternative electricity programs that offered energy efficient programs, as well as offered renewable energy sources, but needed to educate myself more. I also looked into governmental policy to see if there were any mandated sustainable energy practices. I was unable to find any. This led me to a number of governmental agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In addition to the above methods, I consulted a student at Dartmouth College in the environmental studies sustainability energy program.

Claire (05:45:17):

For me, the process of knowing my community better was done by conducting surveys. It was shared to all my classmates, so that I could get the vision of teenagers. Also, my father is working as an electrician, therefore, I was able to know more about electricity and its overuse. Finally, I looked up studies on the internet. I believe it is a great idea to search statistics and researches on the internet because it can help to better understand the problem, its cause, and its solutions.

Speaker 32 (05:45:54):

I researched what my community does to better preserve electricity when it is on. I asked my family what they know about the policies on sustainability in my community, as well as what they think is the best strategy to address the problem of electricity. I also did a bit of research on the constant power outages we have that the electricity company organizes, and I was able to gain an insight as to why it consistently happens. The reasoning behind it, however, is upsetting. I spoke to a few people at my university too, to hear what they know about the electricity usage on campus. It was quite surprising to see the strategies put in place when the power is off, and how it impacts the environment.

Claire (05:46:38):

Now, who will the action plan affect and how will it affect them?

Cara (05:46:43):

The action plan should inspire all who are exposed to it. We are targeting a wide audience.

Claire (05:46:48):

Exactly. We would like to affect as many people as possible, and we hope to get great changes from this project.

Speaker 32 (05:46:56):

Claire and Clara are both correct. You are watching this video for a reason. You want to make a difference.

Cara (05:47:02):

We hope we’re influential and inspiring. For change to occur, you need to have them believe in the mission.

Claire (05:47:09):

However, we also think that people should firstly take action by changing some small everyday habits and see if they are able to get involved in much bigger actions.

Speaker 32 (05:47:21):

We think that the community will be more inclined to take action if they hear how easy it can be based on our video.

Claire (05:47:28):

Finally, our project’s reflection and last thoughts.

Cara (05:47:33):

It was a privilege to work with peers from all over the world. It is encouraging that we share the same goals and relate in so many way. It is also interesting to learn about other cultures, and in this case about their electricity consumption and options.

Claire (05:47:47):

Same for me. Discussing with other people from all over the world has made me a more curious and open-minded person. Also, during the meetings, the teachers were really nice, and no one felt at the wrong place.

Speaker 32 (05:48:02):

I liked how my team and the participants in the program came from different communities and cultures all around the world, but everyone was focused on one goal, making a change, no matter how small. It was an honor to be chosen for this program, and I’m so glad to have gained the knowledge I have over the past few weeks.

Cara (05:48:23):

We have learned that actions like sustainable options take time. The change does not occur overnight, but we also feel assured that the smallest of change makes a difference, encouraging us to continue to make sustainable choices. This program and our project really came together quite well. There were limited issues which can occur on an international team or any team really. I feel fortunate that my team worked very well together and that everyone contributed valuable input.

Claire (05:48:52):

Sometimes finding the right time for a meeting was difficult since we were all living in different areas of the world. However, we found a way to all participate actively in the project and in some ways found them something pleasing.

Cara (05:49:09):

It is critical on a global scale that we address electricity consumption and sources, sustainable electricity programs, time to implement, a shift in behavior as well as opting to utilize sustainable energy sources requires change in habits. Tackling engraved human behavior can be difficult, and will take time, but with education and perseverance, sustainable electricity choices and programs can prevail. Our success will reduce our reliance on non-renewable electric sources. It will also have a positive effect on climate change. Policy changes and investment in research can assist in the acceleration of successful sustainable electricity programs. Incentive to the consumer for opting renewable electric sources will also have a positive impact. It is imperative we address this on a global scale to transition to a more sustainable energy future, as well as ensure a healthier planet for us to share.

Claire (05:50:09):

You are important. It may seem like as a citizen, you can’t do anything big to act against environmental issues. However, you can really change everything just by modifying some small habits in your everyday life. As mentioned before, it is like a snowball effect. If one acts, the other one will be more likely to act as well. Therefore, don’t be discouraged to take action because it will always be rewarded, and if it’s possible, you can even go to the nearest association or organization to help. Your work will always be worth something.

Speaker 32 (05:50:45):

Clara is right. Change starts with us. As we move away from relying on electricity and choosing solar-powered energy and making more environmentally friendly choices when it comes to our electricity consumption, these small steps will matter and will become larger steps as years go by. This video was purely the beginning. It cannot just remain a plan. Change starts with us. Change starts today.

Speaker 33 (05:51:21):

Pesticides are everywhere. They’re in your lawn. They’re in your fruits and vegetables, they’re on your pets, and most importantly, they’re probably in your body right now. Pesticides help to keep ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas off of the plants and animals that we eat and keep in our homes. However, recent studies are showing that they might be doing more harm than good.

So the real questions are why does this matter? How does it affect us in our daily lives and what are we going to do about the global pesticide problem?

Ag pesticides, also known as agricultural or crop pesticides, are substances used to control pests and diseases that can harm crops. While they play a significant role in protecting agricultural yields and ensuring food security, the use of plant pesticides also raises concerns about potential health effects on humans, plants, and the environment. The health effects of plant pesticides can vary, depending on the specific type of pesticide and the level of exposure. Here are some key considerations regarding their health effects. Firstly, their toxicity to everyday people. Pesticides can be toxic to humans if they’re ingested, inhaled, or come into contact with your skin or eyes. Pesticide poisoning can result in symptoms ranging from mild irritation to severe illness or even death. However, such poisoning incidents are relatively rare and often occur due to accidental or deliberate exposure rather than routine use.

Secondly, their toxicity to those in the industry. People who work closely with pesticides are at a higher risk for developing pesticide poisoning and other related illnesses. Farmers, agricultural workers, and pesticide applicators are at the highest risk for pesticide poisoning. These individuals may experience more significant health effects from prolonged exposure to pesticides, especially if they do not follow proper safety protocols such as wearing protective clothing, using respiratory equipment and practicing good hygiene.

And lastly, their impact on the environment. Pesticides can have detrimental effects on ecosystems, most commonly water contamination, soil deterioration, and harm to non-target organisms like bees, birds, and aquatic life. These environmental impacts can directly affect human health through the disruption of ecosystems, and the contamination of food and water sources.

Speaker 31 (05:53:51):

And how much the United States economy currently favors big farms that use these hazardous pesticides and chemicals in their production makes this issue seem unavoidable for almost anyone. When you go to the grocery store, it is so hard to fully understand what you are consuming. When you are living your daily lives. It is so hard to fully understand the health hazards around you and the impacts that the food you are purchasing and the farmers, the businesses you are supporting have on the ecosystems around you.

Speaker 34 (05:54:23):

So what can we do to prevent these unhealthy and deadly consequences? Well, politics and agricultural policies play a crucial role in shaping the environmental sustainability of our food systems. As the world grapples with challenges posed by climate change and the urgent need to protect our planet’s resources, it is imperative that political leaders prioritize sustainable agricultural practices.

The development and implementation of appropriate policies can intensify farmers to adopt for environmentally friendly techniques such as organic farming, crop rotation, and agroforestry. These policies can also promote the conservation of biodiversity, the protection of natural habitats and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture. Political decisions regarding land use, planning and regulation, can determine whether agriculture expansion occurs at the expense of critical ecosystems or in a manner that preserves ecological integrity. By integrating environmental considerations into agricultural policies, governments can foster a more sustainable and resilient food production system that ensures long-term benefits for both people and the planet.

Justice Ulmet (05:55:47):

Hi. My name is Justice Ulmet and I’m from Bloomington, Indiana.

Our communities would benefit from sidewalks. Have you ever been on a walk in a town or city and been scared walking down a street because there are no sidewalks? Sidewalks make a positive impact in my community and communities around the world. Studies show that walking and spending time outside can greatly improve our health. If we do not walk, the most likely alternative is to drive, which is less healthy and less safe. Walking is simply safer. Also, walking and being outside helps with many parts of our lives, including helping you to have better sleep and lowering your risk for cancer.

Next, sidewalks create a more connected community. Connecting sidewalks allow for a safer way to socialize with other friends and neighbors, without the fear of being run down by an unlawful driver. Sidewalks allow people to socialize, meet new friends, and connect with old neighbors. With more sidewalks, we’ll have more joy, satisfaction, and pride as members of our neighborhood. Lastly, having sidewalks would’ve many positive impacts on our environment. Worldwide through our transportation. We emit around 180 grams of carbon dioxide for every mile we drive. Whereas when we walk, we emit zero grams of CO2 other than what we exhale. Walking leads to a healthier planet and sidewalks make walking more accessible.

Next, banded together. Communities can make many positive changes by adding sidewalks. Healthy united communities are strong communities.

Speaker 35 (05:57:41):

Transportation issue that I observe in my community are the limited coverage of public transport. After countless research, this issue happens due to the lacking of technology advancement in the transportation field. As a result, the government are unable to build transportation facilities at all areas, especially those with uneven earth landscape as it is costly and dangerous. Therefore, I would like to pinpoint few steps in solving this matter.

Firstly, the government should create a cost specializing in transportation studies in every education institute. This action is to create more inventors that can discover new and advanced technology focusing on building transportation facilities. [inaudible 05:58:25] innovation by this line of creative minds will potentially help the government to provide transportation for citizens, especially in the rural areas.

Other than that, government should also conduct technology exchanges with regional countries. We know that technology development is different for every country around the world. Perhaps Malaysia can take advantage of new technological discovery from other countries to be implemented in the construction of local public transport. For example, Malaysia can send local construction workers to China to learn how they build the Ningbo Juchan Rail Link, which is an underwater transportation passage.

Trinni Vascolipiti (05:59:08):

Hi, my name is Trinni Vascolipiti, and I’m from Los Angeles, California.

Transportation, particularly cars, contribute significantly to environmental pollution by emitting billions of tons of greenhouse gases each year, leading to climate change and air pollution. To tackle this issue, governments and car manufacturers promote the adoption of sustainable transportation options such as electric [inaudible 05:59:38]. Electric cars are eco-friendly and cost-efficient with zero emissions and lower maintenance and fuel cost than traditional gasoline-powered cars. However, initially purchasing an electric car can be a challenge for consumers in developing countries. It can also be due to limitations in charging infrastructure and battery technologies. To reduce environmental impact, governments worldwide are implementing policies and incentives to encourage electric car adoptions, such as tax credits, subsidies, and construction of electric vehicle charging stations. The automotive industry is also committed to zero emissions and transitioning to a fully electric fleet in the future. Other sustainable options include public transportation, biking, and walking, which can also reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet.

Governments and car manufacturers are working together to promote eco-friendly transportation options. While challenges around affordability and technology and infrastructures still remain, incentives and policies from the government and manufacturers are being put in place to encourage electric car adoption. By embracing sustainable transportation options, we can work together towards a greener future and reduce our carbon footprint.

Speaker 36 (06:01:12):

The transportation issue I’ve discovered through my study in my local space branches from a stigma. The stigma I’m referring to is the poor man’s vehicle. This stigma has its roots in the social history of rank, race, and occupation, residential segregation, and the historical usage of the bus system by non-car owners who needed to commute into the city center for work such as domestic workers and cleaning staffs. Since the stigma of just the poor using public transit has been discreetly but often addressed throughout everyone’s life, thus, those who belong to an affluent or above average group of pupils find it difficult to swallow their pride and use it.

Besides that, Malaysia struggles with a variety of problems related to the drawbacks of taking public transportation, in addition to the [inaudible 06:01:56] stigma that has been ingrained in everyone’s brain. The primary disadvantage in my opinion, is that the local public transport is never on time. Our travel is plagued by delays since our feeder buses unfortunately have a horrible habit of being late. So to prevent losing further trust in today’s youth, relations to act on the social workers for public transport to be disciplined and time efficient.

Additionally stemming from the manipulation of stigma, Malaysians consider driving your own vehicle to be a more convenient option than using public transit for commuting. Currently, managing your own vehicle is considerably simpler in terms of comfort, convenience, dependability, and even daily pricing. Why would Malaysians pick public transit over private when there’s such a glaring difference? The problem is that the usage of private vehicles has long been ingrained in our thinking, cultural conventions, and even our road system. According to [inaudible 06:02:47] article, Malaysian roadways such as those in Klang Valley, are frequently made for private automobiles above everything else. Hence, it doesn’t seem like public transport has made much of a place here. In order to address this shared feeling among citizens,

Speaker 37 (06:03:00):

…since. The government should ensure that public transit becomes more feasible and prioritize the maintenance of the system. As a simple summary, this stigma was not here 200 years ago rather, it resulted from my city’s continued segregation. But together with simple solutions, we can overcome the struggle.

Catalina (06:03:16):

Climate change is a global issue that affects everyone around the world. And as the next generation, we will be the ones who are most affected by the climate crisis.

Brock (06:03:27):

In this context, rethinking transportation is key in order to transition into a more sustainable world. However, sustainability is not only related to climate change, but also various sectors that affect our daily lives.

Mila (06:03:42):

With some research, we realized that accessibility to sustainable transportation was an overarching barrier that all our communities faced.

Catalina (06:03:50):

Hello, my name is Catalina and I am from Argentina.

Brock (06:03:54):

Hi, I’m Brock Stalfus and I’m from Ripon, Wisconsin.

Mila (06:03:58):

Hi, my name is Mila and I’m from Eugene, Oregon.

Jerry Yang (06:04:02):

Hello, my name is Jerry Yang.

Cara Kang (06:04:04):

Hi, My name is Cara Kang and I’m from Annandale, Virginia.

Jerry Yang (06:04:09):

Our project aims to take local actions to create a global impact. We focused our efforts on reducing emissions in our local communities through accessible transportation, but each with a different approach.

Mila (06:04:20):

Eugene is known as a bike-friendly city with great transportation in place, but the large majority still travels by car. I did some math and I estimate that my school of 1500 students produces 210 tons of CO2 a year just from driving to and from school. That doesn’t include people making multiple trips. To reduce these emissions, a few friends and I started with we like to call The Carpool Project. We collected some data and found out that most people who drive to school aren’t likely to stop any time soon. Most people live up hills, so biking is difficult, and taking the bus takes three times as long as driving. If we can’t get people to stop driving, at least we can reduce the amount of cars on the road by getting them to carpool. We’ve been raising awareness by presenting to the student body, making posters and just getting people to talk. We’re working on getting carpool spots painted in our parking lot. This is obviously not enough, but it’s a step in the right direction. If we can get people to build better habits at a young age, we can make a lifelong impact.

Catalina (06:05:23):

My project consists of letting teenagers know that there are many aspects that play a role to work towards a more sustainable world. For instance, at first I didn’t know that accessibility or transportation were something relevant for the climate crisis. Thus, my idea is giving some workshops at my school and another institution to let others know about the things that need to be considered. It’s important to have an internal perspective on these issues to face them, but without information, that is not possible.

Brock (06:05:53):

One of Griffin’s biggest problems when it comes to sustainability is the effectiveness of our roadways. Throughout our local, downtown and residential areas, our roads are covered in potholes and cracks. These potholes not only cause damage to the vehicles driving on them, but also increases the likelihood of an accident. The cause of these numerous potholes can be attributed to the road salting that occurs during the winter months. Potholes are created when water filtrates through the road and expands weakening the durability of the road. Salting contributes to the problem by allowing water to stay as a liquid, even during freezing temperatures. To reverse the negative effects of salting and to increase the robustness of our roadways, I researched alternative salting methods. The solution that I believe will be the most effective is different types of brine. Brines can turn roads that look like this, and eventually improve them into better looking roads.

Pickle brine and even cheese brine are great substitutes for salt. Brines decreased the amount of snow and ice accumulation, limiting the amount of water that filtrates into the road. Furthermore, some brines cost as little as 7 cents per gallon. Currently, I am doing more research on how Brian can improve our roads and proposing this idea to our local city council. Here I stand in front of our local high school. High school has improved its roads to include safe transportation for our students, but there are so many other places in our community that could benefit by having safer roadways.

Cara Kang (06:07:36):

So my focus topic was to encourage more people to buy locally, whether that’s the crafts market or that’s the farmer’s market as an alternative to buying from big name stores that need to transport all of our stuff from all over the country to get it to one spot. So springtime and summertime is really when these farmer’s markets start to pop up again. So how does that make it more accessible for you and the consumers to access local produce?

Farmers market owner (06:08:02):

This is the only way we sell it. We don’t have any farms stands or anything. We only do farmer’s markets.

Cara Kang (06:08:09):

All right. My second question was knowing how produce sustains, how does that compare from produce that is shipped through trucks and planes to get to one location? How does that compare to fruits grown locally? And pretty much what the owner said, they said that produce that is picked and transported on planes, they’re picked right before they’re ripe, which is why in grocery stores when you’ll see tomatoes that are pink, they’re not ripe yet because they’re picked to ripen over time through the transportation process. But the produce that has grown locally, they just said that they picked all the produce the day before. And my strawberries, they look very delicious and fresh. So I want to thank them for that.

Jerry Yang (06:08:54):

Today I’ll be talking about transportation or more specifically, buses. Living in Los Angeles, one of the main forms of public transportation is the metro bus system. However, many of these buses come sporadically or sometimes they’ll skip stops altogether. Around Los Angeles, you will often see these green benches. Buses only stop at these benches once an hour. And sometimes bus drivers may choose to skip them if they’re running late or they’re already holding the maximum amount of people they can carry. They can get very inconvenient for the people waiting there and trying to get home. Furthermore, some of the bus schedules are very inconsistent. Some buses may arrive back to back, and then there may be a 15 to 30 minute window where no buses arrive, making it extremely inconvenient and hard for people who are just trying to get home. Reliability is a huge factor when bus riders like myself are considering whether or not to take the bus. By increasing efficiency and decreasing inconsistency, more people are likely to ride the bus and less people are likely to use cars, which is extremely beneficial to the environment.

Cara Kang (06:10:00):

Climate change is not some far off problem that is to be pushed away and dealt with later. It is happening here and it is happening now. It’s affecting our lives, so we decide to take action, but our actions alone won’t help. Everyone needs to play their part.

Speaker 38 (06:10:28):

America has more than enough food for everyone to eat, but each year billions of pounds of perfectly good food go to waste. Meanwhile, 34 million people in the United States face hunger, and when we think of pressing issues that affect our planet, we often list global warming, pollution, and our carbon footprint. And while these are important issues, nonetheless, it is time we dive into the issue of food waste nationwide. And why is such a problem?

Speaker 39 (06:10:51):

Due to the amount of greenhouse gases that food emits when it enters the landfill, it makes reducing food waste the number one best solution an individual can take to reverse climate change, according to Project Drawdown. When food breaks down in a landfill, the lack of oxygen causes it to produce methane, which is a very harmful greenhouse gas. Normally, the sun’s heat is reflected back into space, but the greenhouse gases trap the sun’s heat in the atmosphere, which is what causes global warming.

Speaker 38 (06:11:25):

In order to tackle the issue of food waste, it is important that we discuss what it actually means. Food waste is safe, high quality food that has stored the way instead of being eaten. Food waste occurs for a variety of reasons, including uneaten foods thrown away at home, stores, schools and restaurants. Crops left in fields because of low crop prices or too many of the same crops being available, problems during the manufacturing and transportation of food, or food not meeting retailer standards for color and appearance.

Speaker 40 (06:11:55):

Grocery stores produce around 16 billion pounds of food waste each year in the US alone. But sometimes grocery stores engage in food waste because they refuse to sell foods that are perfectly fresh, but imperfect. So irregularly shaped fruits and vegetables and things of that nature. First, being engaging in the community with community gardens, engaging with nonprofits that source imperfect foods and deliver them to lower income families, encouraging local grocery stores to move towards a first in and first out model, which essentially entails changing the way that items in the grocery store are organized so that those that arrive first are also sold first to prevent wastage and to prevent foods from spoiling. There are lots of nonprofits that collect seemingly imperfect foods and reroute them to areas that need them the most. And so these are steps that can be taken both by grocery stores and by consumers and students like you, particularly volunteering for nonprofits, planting community gardens, going to farmer’s markets and things of that nature.

Speaker 38 (06:13:14):

Another area of inquiry when it comes to food waste are schools. Majority of students receive free or reduced lunches, yet nearly 50% of what ends up in school dumpsters is food waste. Some of that is unrecoverable, such as food scrapings, partially consumed meals and open containers. But a large portion can be redirected to feed those who are in need. The USDA National School Lunch Program Research suggests that schools waste 1.2 billion in edible foods given to students each year. But why is this the case? Many students report that they simply do not like what the school offers.

Speaker 39 (06:13:50):

It is now my pleasure to introduce Becky Brodsky, the Zero Waste Schools program manager at Seven Generations Ahead, as she shares some of the best ways to help reduce food waste in schools.

Becky Brodsky (06:14:03):

There’s something called Offer Versus Serve, which is run by the USDA. It says that students don’t have to take all five meal components. They need to be offered five meal components. They can take three of five items, so they have a choice. So they’ll be number one, they’re not getting as much food, they’re not getting five items, and then they’re choosing what they’re more likely to eat.

Speaker 38 (06:14:25):

The solution is creating a process for collecting allowable food items before they are discarded into the trash. AKA food share tables. Shared tables are designated stations where children may return whole or unopened food or beverage items they choose not to eat. These items are then made available to other students who may want another serving or be donated to food banks.

Speaker 39 (06:14:50):

Another solution to the issue of food waste in schools is composting.

Becky Brodsky (06:14:55):

Most schools we work with do commercial composting. Then you need to make sure there are haulers that can pick it up from the school. I think that’s the main thing. Make sure it’s available. And then once you figure, “Okay, it’s available.” Then you get pricing, and then you can kind of work on multiple things at once. Work on the logistics of the hauling and then also talking to the staff in the school and letting them know about it, and then talk about the operational inside the school, in the lunchroom and making sure that everybody’s on board with it and that you get their input. It’s really important to get the custodial and food service staff input because this impacts their jobs.

Speaker 39 (06:15:37):

After figuring out the logistics of composting, next is implementing it into lunchrooms. Most schools do this by using something called sorting stations. Sorting stations help students easily know where items left on their lunch trays belong either the landfill, recycling or compost.

Becky Brodsky (06:15:55):

So we recommend having that one or two sorting stations depending on how many students you have, and then remove all other bins from the lunchroom so that the students have to go up to the sorting line. Because they tend to go to whatever is closest, as I’m sure you’ve experienced. So if there is a garbage can nearby, students are going to be much more likely to use that, versus walking over to the sorting station. So having everything in one location is super important.

Speaker 39 (06:16:24):

Food waste is a big problem in our society today, and it’s up to us to solve it.

Becky Brodsky (06:16:29):

So just coming up with solutions and approaching whoever the decision makers are is just a great place to start. So speak up.

Speaker 39 (06:16:42):

Now is the time to talk to family, administrators and representatives about how we can change the way that we think about food waste to protect our planet for future generations.

Abigail (06:16:53):

Welcome to the Smithsonian Resources Group 3, Sustainable Communities Project. As a group of individuals living in diverse communities, we wanted to choose relevant topics that would benefit the places we call home. In order to achieve this task, we studied what was lacking in our towns to figure out what they needed. Even though we come from different backgrounds, we had the same goal in mind, to make our communities last for the next generation.

Sue (06:17:21):

We gathered all of our information and got straight to work. During our planning, we realized we had a common theme in all of our research.

Abigail (06:17:29):

There was a need for recycling, reusing, and reducing in every community. So with this idea, we created our action plans. As you go through our videos, we hope you can gain a sense of fascination, compassion, and understanding for what we consider important in our hopes for the future.

Sue (06:17:47):

Hello, my name is Sue. I live in Maine in the US. Today I will talk about a large problem in my community, specifically my school. At my school, a considerably large amount of paper is going to waste. So what I asked myself was, “What is a way I can reuse all this paper?” That is when I decided to make these biodegradable seedling pots made from a mixture of paper flour and water. A large percentage of people living here in my community love to garden, and many of them have their own gardens. I will be passing out these pots at my school along with these recipes that I have made for anyone who wants to make more seedling pots. Instead of consuming produce grown by spraying pesticides and other chemicals, these pots are a great alternative to protect trees as well as water from pesticide pollution. Thank you.

Abigail (06:18:46):

I’m Abigail.

Olivia (06:18:46):

And I’m Olivia.

Abigail (06:18:48):

And we live in Arkansas, and we are at our composting area outside of our school. We realized there was a need for composting when we saw the amount of food waste accumulating at our school.

Olivia (06:19:00):

Agriculture is the main economic resource in our town, and so we want to be able to give back to the farmers and the home centers with this project.

Abigail (06:19:10):

This is a compost bin that we set up in our cafeteria. After lunch, we would take our bag of food to the designated compost spot.

Olivia (06:19:19):

It was rough at first as kids put plastic in our bin. We had to sort out that plastic. We then moved our bin to another place and started to accumulate compostable items.

Abigail (06:19:31):

This is our biology teacher, Ms. Vickery, who’s going to be using the compost for her garden. Even though we had some unwanted guests in our compost bin, this gave us hope for the future. Thank you.

Alison Semel (06:19:45):

The goal of my action project was to increase education and awareness in my community of ways to effectively recycle compost, and upcycle used items. I’ve noticed that in my community, Howard County, Maryland, items are often recycled incorrectly and many community members lack knowledge on composting and upcycling. One way to address a lack of information or misinformation is to create posters or infographics to catch the eye in order to spread awareness. For my community, I’ve created infographics that show what can and cannot be recycled in ways that community members can easily upcycle used items.

I plan to spread these both on social media and hang them up in areas where recycling misinformation is prevalent. I use Canva to create these infographics, but there are many ways to create posters or infographics that can spread a message within your community. Another important action is actively supporting composting in your community. I’m fortunate enough to have composting bins in my community that are open to use and that show what can and cannot be composted. Composting is an important aspect of creating less waste. So it is important to use the tools available to actively participate in it.

Suhani Delela (06:20:49):

For my project, the resource that I chose to reduce, reuse or recycle was clothing. With the increasing use of fast fashion these days with companies like Zara, the increasing amount of clothes are being thrown away as fashion trends are being cycled through very quickly. These clothes, when decomposing release a lot of chemicals into the air that eventually harm the environment, increasing global warming. I know how to sew, so I thought, what’s the best way to create new fashion trends from old fashion trends? So I grabbed a pair of jeans that I don’t wear anymore, and decided, “What if I turn this into a skirt?”

After a little bit of thread and some time the skirt was ready. Now my old unfashionable jeans are a new fashionable skirt that I can wear wherever I want. I’ve reduced the waist of throwing out the jeans, and I’ve also reduced the waist that would result from me buying more clothes and reduce the amount of resources that would have to be used for me to get new clothes. We can create this cycle in fast fashion using old clothes to create new clothes and reduce the waste while also being fashionable at the same time. Thank you.

Annabelle Dyer (06:22:02):

Everyone gets these plastic bags from the grocery store, but did you know they take 1000 years to degrade in landfills? And they don’t even decompose fully. They actually photodegrade, which means they turn into little microplastics that absorb toxins and pollute our environments. But there’s a way to reuse your plastic bag. Today I’m going to show you how to make a plastic bag sleeping mat. The things you’ll need are a pair of scissors and two different colors of bags. First you want to flatten out the bag. We’ll you do this, right there. And then you’re going to make a cut right here and a cut right here. And it’s okay if it’s not perfect. So then you should have that and that, something that looks like this. And then you just pull through like that. And then you pull this and then pull all that through. Basically making a knot just like this.

So you’re going to be working with four strands of plastic bags. These three strands are pretty much just there to build the foundation of the blanket, and then you have this strand of plastic bags that you’re actually using to weave through these three strands. So the first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to flatten all the strands out, and then you’re going to take the one that you’re going to be weaving through, and you’re first going to go under, then over, then under, then over, then under, then over.

And then to secure it to this side of the blanket, you’re going to put it into the left bottom corner of this part right here, right next to that. And you’re going to shove it in and then pull it through. And then you have what it should look like… You can fix it a little bit like that. And then this is what the back should look like. I know that may have been a little confusing, so I’m going to put the reference video up there. And I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. Once I finish with the mat, I’m going to give it to a homeless shelter. Thank you for watching.

Maya (06:45:54):

Good afternoon, everyone. I think we are ready to start. So if I can ask you to take your seats. [inaudible 06:46:04] is already coming to me as well.

I hope that you had a great discussion. So I mean, I jumped in every single group and breakout room and I heard so many interesting ideas coming up. So just let’s come to the audience for the last panels and closing of the day.

Amri Price (06:46:35):

And if everybody in the back there could please sit down, take a moment to find your seat, and welcome back to our online audience and everyone that’s watching at home. Hope you had a good time there.

Maya (06:46:50):

We hope that you enjoy our digital program as well and that you have a lot of fascinating ideas already and inspirations coming up as we had in here, the breakouts, where there was a lot of collaboration coming and going.

Amri Price (06:47:07):

Yeah, indeed. I mean, we had some really, really inspiring sessions. From Alliance 4 Europe, we’re hosting one on inclusion and diversity. We had a very intimate session where we had breakout groups that were really diving into what are potential solutions to how vulnerable groups are being targeted by disinformation, what that targeting looks like, and what we can do going forward. I think there were lots of other conclusions from the other sessions. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about them.

Maya (06:47:41):

And that’s exactly the moment when you’re going to hear more of them because what we’re going to be doing right now, we’re going to be harvesting, so discussing about what was said and about the solutions that came up from the breakout rooms. So I would like to now ask the four panelists, so the four people that will be reporting from the breakouts, to come on the stage. So from the project Hope, Philip Howard, Professor Oxford University and Chair International Panel on the Information and Environment. From Combating Health and Climate Misinformation, Dr. Anna Harvey, President of the Social Science Research Council. From Hope With a Plan, Stephen King, CE0 of Luminate, and from Inclusion Against Disinformation, Hallie Stern, DISARM Foundation.

Hello. How are you. How are the discussions?

Dr. Anna Harvey (06:48:32):


Hallie Stern (06:48:33):

They were great.

Dr. Anna Harvey (06:48:33):

Yeah, yeah.

Maya (06:48:33):

They were good?

Dr. Anna Harvey (06:48:33):


Maya (06:48:35):

Yeah? Excited? Are you happy to bring the solutions and everything that you’ve been discussing here to the advisory audience online and offline? That’s great. We’re going to have 25 minutes to talk about that. And maybe I will start with Phillip, so please tell me, tell us all what you’ve been discussing, how are the solutions you’re bringing on the table?

Phil Howard (06:49:03):

Thank you. Thank you. So yes, we had two hours together for the Project HOPE conversation. This was a little bit of news about the organizational logistics of putting the international panel and the information environment together, sharing some of the new knowledge from the analysis, the meta-analysis, and the systematic reviews that we did. And I think overall, the conversation was really shaped by a nugget of wisdom we got from President McKnight yesterday about how science was a process, not a list of facts. So most of our conversation was about how difficult it is to produce the new knowledge, especially involving social media platforms, complex organizational patterns, and many different kinds of disciplines.

So we had a number of humanists in the crowd. We had a number of our psychologists and neuroscientists. We showed off the outcomes from this meta-analysis and the systemic review, which really helps us identify that flagging and corrective information seems to have a positive impact on public learning, retention of information, trust in the systems.

But for our purposes, one of the interesting findings is how little evidence there is for all the other proposed solutions. And of the four and a half thousand papers that we processed in the meta-analysis, a surprising number of them suggest solutions, but only at the end of the conclusion of an article. There’s no testing on the solution set.

And so part of the conversation actually became about getting us, as researchers, to aspire to reach the gold standard of what can go into a meta-analysis in terms of reporting our statistics to reach for those models and those forms of tests that allow for stronger causal claims. And I think by the end of it, we were all well aware, painfully aware of how dependent we are on Twitter for text data, right? So our toolkit for processing large amounts of text is now fairly well-developed, but a significant portion of the information that might be sexist or racist or targeting particular communities in manipulative ways is visual. And that, for the moment, is a challenge for us as researchers.

So we went into the organizational logistics. We showed off some of these results, which will be on the IPIE website in the next week to 10 days. And we started to sketch out what’s ahead, which domains of scientific consensus we might find as we strike panels in the near future.

Maya (06:51:47):

Thank you so much, Philip. That’s fascinating and thank you for the input out from the researcher’s side on how we can actually make change in looking at this information from technological perspective. Before I’m going to move to Anna, I’m going to ask to switch off the time because the clock is not working in here and I’m sure that we can talk for hours, but I would love to make sure that we all going to finish at five as we planned.

So Anna, please tell us what you’ve been discussing [inaudible 06:52:20] project panel and I’ve been there as well. Fascinating discussions. I know that you are actually coming together in bringing the solutions, so please, [inaudible 06:52:32].

Dr. Anna Harvey (06:52:31):

Thank you, thank you, and a nice segue because the Mercury Project is a coalition of over 100 social-behavioral scientists who are trying to test solutions to the problem of our information environment. And our solution session was tasked with, we broke into small groups and each group was tasked with finding at least one solution or proposing at least one solution based in behavioral science that could potentially address both health and climate mis- and disinformation and then we voted on the solutions and I’m bringing you the top two solutions from our session.

And both of the solutions, the top two solutions, focused on the challenge for layperson, a non-scientist in distinguishing between areas of scientific consensus and areas of scientific uncertainty and then fringe or non-consensus opinions in the scientific community. And both of our solutions leverage things that exist in the world that we thought could be scaled or expanded to address health and climate misinformation.

So one of our small groups focused on the problem of the diversity of opinion in the scientific community. That group was joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who recounted some of the difficulties that faced him, both during the AIDS crisis and during the Covid crisis, when there was a high degree of scientific consensus about the medicine, about the science. But just as on any given issue, even if 98% of the scientists agree on a particular issue, it may very well be the case that there are one or two scientists who hold a dissenting view.

The problem is when those dissenting views are elevated by the news media or by politicians in an equivalence, what Dr. Fauci called an equivalence of experts. And so maybe both experts are members of the National Academy, both have distinguished publication records, and so the news media can “both sides” the issue. And so he said, “Help me with this.”

And so that group came up with the idea that we have something called expert survey panels. So one good example is run out of the University of Chicago and is a survey panel of about 90 economists. And they’re surveyed regularly, multiple times per month sometimes, on policy issues that are facing our legislators, our decision-makers. And they’re asked both to predict what effect a particular policy would have, but also to give, to confidence-weight their predictions so that we can see where there’s more and less uncertainty. So if you go to the survey panel webpage, the most recent one was on the effects of banning TikTok. The one before that was on the productivity effects of AI.

So these are pressing things where we may not know the answer, but if you aggregate over 90 highly qualified experts, you can see what the distribution of opinion looks like and it would allow the non-economist, and in the case of health and climate, the person who’s not a climate scientist, who’s not an epidemiologist or an expert on infectious diseases to at least see, “Okay, this opinion must be an outlier because I can see at least where the middle of the scientific consensus is.”

And the last thing that that group pointed out, and this maybe tipped it over, is that we actually do have experimental evidence that when you show non-scientists, citizens, particularly in climate science, when you show respondents the degree of scientific consensus that exists on climate science, it can move their opinions in the direction of believing the science. So that was one solution.

The second solution was really analogous but focused on the problem of predatory or for-profit scientific journals. So in a world in which there’s lots and lots of scientific journals, and again, media outlets and politicians can create this equivalence of scientific opinion because it was published in a scientific journal, even though that journal is not highly respected in the scientific community, it’s hard for the layperson to distinguish. So that solution said, “Well, we have an organization already called NewsGuard that provides reliability ratings for journalistic outlets.” Maybe we need something like that for our academic journals, something like JournalGuard where we have the National Academies of Science or the NIH could rate the credibility of scientific journals, which would give consumers a signal about the credibility of scientific findings.

So we thought those were both pretty good and we had 45 minutes to come up with solutions. So I think in general, there was a lot of excitement in the room about the opportunity to develop and test and hopefully pilot and then scale solutions that work.

Maya (06:57:41):

Perfect. Thank you so much for bringing that and bringing, actually, two very specific solutions on the table as well.

Hallie, how about you? What was the discussion on inclusion against disinformation? What are the outcomes?

Hallie Stern (06:57:56):

Yeah, so we paid a lot of attention about how specific data points impact specific marginalized communities, what that looks like offline and online, both in the global north and south, as well as Latina communities, Jewish communities, and others. We went a lot into the weaponization of algorithms based on the data that cohort these specific groups and silo them into, all of us, into very specific networked ways of viewing the world. One example would be if somebody has an aggressive data pattern that they’re pushing off across their devices, they’re likely going to see information that directly has to do with that.

So there were a lot of really incredible points like this being an absolutely wicked problem that takes many tears to deal with. There’s a technical component. There’s a social component. We landed on digital literacy catered for specific communities encompassing media literacy that specifically speak to those communities and kind of taking back the algorithm, weaponizing the algorithm for propagating the appropriate information.

And then, of course, that’s an existential dilemma as well, right, who gets to choose what information is appropriate. But we want to use the data about ourselves to maybe rewire the way the algorithms work to maybe identify those super-spreaders of disinformation before it becomes a content moderation issue. If they’re able to collect all of this data on us as it is, instead of nonprofits and civil society and academics going and begging for content moderation that may or may not be exactly aligned with what it needs to be, cohorting the people that are harming people through the information that they’re spreading.

The algorithms work on ranking and authority. Who has ranking and authority depends on your network within your cohort and/or within your marginalized group. So why aren’t we down-ranking the authority of super-spreaders of disinformation or those who aim to harm people through those narratives and through the cyber-enabled tools that they’re using to undermine the networks to propagate that information in the first place.

So it was a really incredible discussion about we can’t take a blanket approach to solving the problem. There is no one solution. There never will be. There will always be algorithms, there will always be media, and there will always be different people with different opinions and having different opinions is great. It’s when those opinions harm other people that it’s not. So back to the conclusion of is there a way we can educate communities stemming locally and validating what they see through the leaders in that community individually, instead of taking one blanket approach to digital and/or media literacy.

Maya (07:01:15):

Thank you so much. So how we can actually can combat this us versus them narrative, right, through technology. I think that’s also very, very important as it’s one of the widely used narratives in disinformation by the bad actors.

Stephen, I’m coming now to you. You’re going to tell us about the session on the 10-point plan, right?

Stephen King (07:01:36):

Yeah, thank you. I mean, we’ve had a very wide-ranging discussion, which was both delving into the negative impact, the disinformation, but then also trying as much as possible to focus on solutions. So we split this into three parts. One was about looking at what exactly are online harms and who is most vulnerable and who is most harmed by the platforms and the disinformation. And I think we heard some very moving testimony from people about the particular harms that they had suffered, similar to what Maria Ressa talked about yesterday with a very direct and very impactful overview of what had happened in disinformation, how she’d personally been attacked. And I think we’ve talked a little bit about how these harms particularly happen in the global south in the majority world. And they also particularly target underrepresented groups and particularly women as well. So we had a wide-ranging discussion there about how do you mitigate those harms? How do you try and resolve those?

The other thing we focused on was the business model of Big Tech and had a very lively discussion about the issues of content moderation versus surveillance capitalism and how you’ve got to move this argument upstream. So content moderation, of course, is one particular solution, but it’s a kind of sticking plaster to the actual problem, which is around the surveillance model of advertising, which is targeting individuals and so on. So we looked at how we need to control that, how Europe has become the default super legislator for Big Tech, how there are more opportunities there. There’s a reluctance in the US in any way to legislate, although there are, I think, opportunities state by state to try and focus on transparency and other elements. But we felt that the more opportunities there are tend to be in Europe and then we’re also seeing how that can be utilized and replicated in other places in the majority world as well in Brazil, in the Philippines, and other countries as well.

Finally, we talked about how to protect journalism as an antidote as well to disinformation and the need to invest in quality independent, investigative journalism. Ultimately, we’ve endorsed the 10-point plan, which we heard about yesterday and we had some great breaking news on this that at the moment, it’s been signed up to by 270-odd academics, Nobel Prize laureates, foundations, and others. And just yesterday, Margaret Atwood and Naomi Klein have also joined those signatures. So to everybody in the room we’d say, sign it, use it, and share it.

Maya (07:04:31):

Perfect. Thank you so much for those solutions that are more coming on the regulatory level and also advocacy. I think that, indeed, it’s a high time for US to adopt as well the regulation on disinformation. I’m very proud to be from the European Union and happy that the SA is in enforced and hopefully, will be very much enforced in most of the countries and that we build that with that from this aspect.

I’m hearing so many solutions in here to the problems and some of them, I feel that they’re very kind of coming together as well and I would like to ask you kind of hot questions. So how do you feel that what you heard from your fellow panelists and what was happening in the other breakouts can also inspire you and perhaps can give some possibility to cooperate or work together with the people that you had in your room because I also know that different kind of people were in each of the rooms and I think that can also foster the corporation. And I’m a huge fan of cooperation. I really believe that we’re stronger together. So anyone in particular would like to start and already has a inspiration to talk?

Dr. Anna Harvey (07:05:42):

Well, one thing I’ll say is that it’s interesting, you probably feel this true too, is that during the pandemic, I think we became so much more painfully aware of the problem of mis- and disinformation. But as everybody knows, that problem existed prior to the pandemic. But I think it confronted us in a very real and material way. And I think we also were confronted with the reality that we had maybe under-invested in findings solutions, right, and so now, here we are starting during the pandemic, but trying to take forward an effort to find solutions and wanting our research funding agencies, whether it’s National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health or it’s the European funding agencies to recognize the need to invest not only, for example, in the case of climate science and finding technological solutions, but also finding solutions that target decision-making and behavior, which seem to be almost the key stumbling block now and the same in health.

So I think that was one thing that across the many advocates for different kinds of solutions and people come from all walks of life, was just the recognition that we need to know more than we do and we need to be willing as societies to invest in learning more.

Maya (07:07:10):

Thank you.

Hallie Stern (07:07:13):

To your point and to your point with the data that’s collected on each individual and the behavioral analytics that go into getting somebody to act based on the information that we see, and we discussed this in our session as well, we are not really researching enough into the neurological aspect of this why and how we respond to the patterns, but also knowing what data we’re putting out ourselves, knowing what cohorts we’re in and why is a way that we can kind of step back as well and say, “Oh, this is something that impacts me, that emotionally triggers me, and I know that and it’s inferred through the surveillance capitalism, the surveillance data that has collected on me. And am I responding to this in a certain way because it’s familiar, because it’s an issue?

And I personally would like to see more research into why that is. Are we pushing on multiple senses at once? Is that the problem? What is it that creates that addiction to that information that we’re seeing and why is it harming us offline?

Maya (07:08:25):

I think that’s super crucial and we have scientists in the room and that’s definitely something that we can discuss and maybe work on together because what we see by the bad actors. But what you said, Stephen, right, it’s exactly what harm is being brought to the journalists, but also to the activists. I’m coming from Poland. I also see what the government in Poland is doing to mitigate activists working, for example, freedom of press or the right to abortion. It’s happening all over the world and it’s happening because it’s something that is

Maya (07:09:00):

… is changing our minds and mitigating the work of those that are trying to fight for freedom. So yeah. Stephen?

Stephen King (07:09:08):

One thing we talked about in our session, which I’m sure has come up I know a lot during the last couple of days, is also the increasing incapacity of generative AI. Which when we think about disinformation at the moment and the way in which it is produced and distributed, generative AI is going to supercharge that. So, what we will be looking at in a years time or in two years time is going to be of a scale of magnitude which we can’t really imagine. So this problem is going to get worse before it’s going to get better, and the pace of legislation tends to be very slow. So that’s part of the problem is that, you start legislation now, it’s going to be five, 10 years before it’s introduced and then you have the implementation gap as well. And we have GDPR in Europe, but in many countries it’s not implemented and there are ways that big tech finds around that as well. So I think that’s something that is on the horizon and is a very real and present danger.

Maya (07:10:06):

Yeah, and that’s why I think that if we’re talking about all those puzzles, regulations are important but equally important are money into coming to develop AI in a more ethical way, in the way that AI will serve us. Philip?

Phil Howard (07:10:22):

I just want to say that I’m been inspired at the discovery of how I think we share a sense of mission right across journalists and civil society. And those of us who do large scale research, we do have normative goals and I think one of the nice things about the event has been discovering that science itself needs diplomacy, the science diplomacy and working out what good science communication is. It may no longer be possible or make sense to do the research that we want to do, without having a science diplomacy strategy or a communication strategy built into the program of the work if we expect to see good change come from the work that we do.

Maya (07:11:04):

Thank you very much. I think science needs diplomacy indeed and needs good communication and it needs a space where we can talk about it in the general public, but also needs a space for the expert to come together, and the experts coming together from the different spaces and expertise and really working on the solutions. And I think that’s what we already did with the four working groups, we’re going to be harvesting some of this. So thank you so much for joining me here on stage and thank you so much all of you that participated in these groups and brought all of your knowledge into the solutions that they’re going to be in here. We’re going to be working on the report together so it will be also available. Thank you so much. And right now I’m inviting as well Omri, but thank you to our panelists.

Thank you.

Phil Howard (07:11:57):

Thank you.

Maya (07:12:05):

Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so much.

All right the floor is yours. Now we’re going to be talking about what was happening virtually, right?

Amri Price (07:12:12):

Yes, thank you very much. So during the day while all of us were having our conversations here in the building, we also had a deliberative polling process that was going on online for all those who registered to do it. And I think one of the themes that we’ve had coming up in the last two days essentially has been the need for a more resilient society and a more resilient democracy. And so deliberative democracy is an amazing tool for that. And so I have a real honor and privilege to welcome onto the stage three people that will really be able to enlighten us on those ideas and also what has happened today. So I’d like to bring to the stage please, professor James Fishkin, Chair in International Communication at Stanford University. We have Asa Wikforss, Theoretical Philosophy Professor at Stockholm University and we have Professor Saul Perlmutter, Nobel Prize laureate in physics and also at the Data Science center at Berkeley. Welcome.

Yes, [inaudible 07:13:31]. Thank you very much.

So it’s fantastic to have all of you on stage and I think we have a real interdisciplinary tour de force with a philosopher, a political scientist and a physicist. So maybe just to give us a bit of context, Asa maybe you’d like to just talk us through what the ideas here are and just a bit of context.

Asa (07:14:05):

Yeah. So, people have touched on one solution, which is through legislation, policy making. And which is to say through democracy. But of course when it comes to legislation as a solution to this problem of disinformation, it is a tricky issue because it cuts to the core of democracy, to free speech and exchange of ideas, and there’s a rightful suspicion of any kind of government intervention in how we talk to each other. So that’s a challenge. And yet we do need some kind of legislation, but it needs to be wise and it needs to be well anchored among the people.

So there’s this interesting research field that’s been growing the last few decades called basically Innovations in Democracy. And that’s the idea that we need to innovate democracy for the 21st century. We need to find new ways to get people to participate more, not just by voting but also by engaging in the public reasoning that’s very much essential to democracy. And the idea goes back to this idea that the great American philosopher John Dewey had that democracy is a way of life and very much part of that way of life. It’s not just going voting every three, four years, but participating in public debate, in public reasoning. And that’s deliberation.

So there’s all sorts of attempts to increase the public deliberation through various kinds of citizen assemblies. There was a famous case in British Columbia where they had a citizen assembly deliberating on how to change their electoral laws. On participatory budgeting they’ve done in Brazil. They’ve done it in Scotland, at local level. Even the climate change citizen assemblies in the UK and in France, where it’s interesting because it shows you can counteract science denial through proper deliberation.

And proper deliberation involves… At least it involves, well, a random selection of people. So you have a good combination of people, but also expert input because just deliberating without knowledge is just opining. You need expert input to come to a good decision and you need moderators so that the deliberation is an exchange of reasons and not of insults basically, that’s the idea. The output of course, these people are not elected representatives, the output is not decisions but it’s input to policymaking. And that has been shown to work really well.

So the interesting question now is can we use this knowledge we have from innovations in democracy and use those kinds of practices to apply to this problem that we are facing? And that’s what this deliberative polling today was about.

Amri Price (07:17:13):

That’s a fantastic piece of context for us and I think packaging it into the time that we have is a challenge. But I think we’ll get James now to please give us an overview of the work that you’ve done that that has led to this.

James (07:17:30):

Yes. So we’ve been doing what I call deliberative polling, which is a particular model of taking random samples of the public, good samples, reasonably sized samples who deliberate in depth. So a deliberative poll is a poll of a population before and after. What we did, in cooperation with the Nobel Prize Summit, is not a deliberative poll because it doesn’t have a stratified random sample, but it’s a pilot of the process, a demonstration of the process. And the best way to learn about something is learning by doing rather than just watching. So people around the world had the experience of participating in deliberative polling, in the process.

Now when we do a deliberative poll, we engage people in good conditions. What are the good conditions? It’s very simple. We have balanced briefing materials that have been vetted with good information. Where they’re contested arguments on either side are identified as contested, the facts that we can establish are identified as established. And the deliberation is about value-laden goals, the competing pros and cons of specific policy proposals, things that could be done.

And so we’ve done 120 of these projects around the world in 50 countries and often they have been inputs to decision. It brought Texas from being last to being first in the amount of wind power in the United States over a period of years at a bunch of projects. Just this past weekend, South Korea commissioned a national deliberative poll. The National Assembly commissioned a national deliberative poll on national television. And I was privileged to appear on the broadcast but it was about how to reform their electoral system, they were deadlocked in terms of different views. The two major parties agreed on an agenda that was brought to the people and the results were very dramatic. And the speaker announced on national television that he thinks, guided by that, they will come up with a new law for changing the electoral system. That’s the most recent example just this past weekend, but it’s been used in many countries.

But now we’ve also developed a technology for this. That was face-to-face, the country brought face to face together, a good national sample; but we also do this online. First we did it online on Zoom, but now we do it online with a platform that was developed at Stanford with my management science and engineering and computer science colleagues. And the platform was demonstrated here today. We also used it previously in the US with a thousand deliberators on climate change with very dramatic results. Very thoughtful and very dramatic results, and changes of opinion. But the platform moderates the discussion without a human moderator. So there’s a little bit of AI, but we don’t call it AI, we say it’s AI assisted. But it controls the queue for talking, it nudges the people who haven’t talked, it intervenes when there’s uncivil conversation. And indeed we had one occasion of incivility in these discussions in the demonstration, but usually people talk to each other in a civil manner.

And the magic of deliberation; deliberation we’ve shown in controlled experiments reduces extreme partisan polarization and opens up people to listening to the other side. And in that manner it corrects misinformation and disinformation and it cools the temperature in the conversation so that people actually can come to informed conclusions. And we get the informed conclusions in confidential questionnaires. We have all the criticisms of deliberation come out of the jury literature because juries do a pretty good job for questions of fact, but there’s social pressure for consensus and to reach a verdict.

In our method we don’t have that because we get the conclusions in confidential questionnaires. People never have to say how they really come out. They consider the competing sides of the argument and they come up with questions for panels of competing experts, which is what we demonstrated in these deliberations around the world here for the Nobel Prize Summit too. And people don’t just defer to the experts, they have experts who may disagree and they listen to the competing arguments. And we don’t turn the people into experts, we don’t replace the experts with the people. Rather the experts need to listen to the way the people consider competing value-laden goals of public policy. And those competing value-laden goals have to come from the people. Democracy is not about implementing the values of the experts, it’s about the people being informed enough to think about what really should be done.

So we have aspirations for scaling this kind of deliberation as well. And we viewed this opportunity, which we were given and were very happy about, as a pilot to demonstrate the possibility for scaling. Because with this platform, we could do any number of people. Imagine if you had a deliberative society rather than the kind of society we have now.

Amri Price (07:23:17):

That’s a really, really good bridge to passing it on to Saul because we would really like to find out what happened today. Maybe you could tell us.

Saul (07:23:27):

So two things. First I’ll say a word or about why we were doing it particularly here. I think first of all we, earlier on we were doing a lot of discussion about how to tell the science story better to the public. But I think that this is one of the first chances we had today to be practicing the question of what does it look like to do a two-way conversation. Because I think trust building really does involve, at least today, I think it really should involve a lot of this two-way conversation. So the values and the goals and the fears are coming from the public, but they’re constrained by the expertise that’s available from the experts. So that was I think a good reason for this to be done at all, today in this context.

The other thing though that’s particular about our problem that we’re discussing, the misinformation, is that almost all of the proposals, probably every proposal, for how to deal with it has this risk involved. That you don’t want a government or an industry to potentially be putting their thumb on the scales of what counts as misinformation, or what it is that you’re trying to suppress and what it is you’re trying to enliven. And so you need to find some mechanisms to be able to give some oversight. And so the thought was that this would be an interesting proposal as a route to seeing what would it look like if we used deliberative participatory democracy approaches to providing some oversight for policy concepts.

So that was why we were trying this out today and the topics… I don’t know if everybody had a chance to see, but I just prolonged… The kinds of topics that were being deliberated on, included things about whether we should be regulating the algorithms that are being used by the online platforms, whether the platforms should provide easy access to the data for academics and researchers. Questions about digital literacy, whether there should be the possibility of pre-bunking PSAs. Fact checking, whether the fact checking should be overseen by perhaps a deliberative process. And also authenticity questions of whether there should be perhaps unique anonymous identifiers for any post, or whether AI generated materials should be registered in some way, so you can find it later that this came from a known AI.

And so I can report that just coming in off the wire because the most recent… There were four deliberations this past weekend that were three hours each, and then there was a full deliberation today that was four hours that involved going back and forth between deliberation and the experts. And so it’s just finished a few minutes back and I was just getting back some of the responses. Apparently some of the quotes were interesting from the small group discussions. From Japan there was a comment about somebody, they used to strongly agree about providing data to the researchers, but they realized after the discussion that there was some concern about being able to identify who the real researchers are, and that that struck them as something that had to be folded into the discussion. There was apparently something from Namibia where there was a concern that the fact checking had to be done some way that was sensitive to the fact that there were different cultures, and that you might end up having some cultures suppressing other cultures if you’re not careful in how you do that.

Amri Price (07:26:52):

Important point.

Saul (07:26:53):

From the United States, apparently there was a comment about the public service announcements being a good idea, but they were afraid that they might be coming in too late in a process where people have already come in with their own desires and anger or communication goals.

So those were some of the comments apparently in the small groups. I gather that the kinds of questions that went to the experts included questions about whether AI… if you have AI generating material that’s been labeled, they want to know how, so far, has AI been useful for reducing misinformation; to the experts? And they were asking experts… let’s see, what else here? Oh, there was a question about what specific strategies would be recommended from Canada. How would you recommend to reduce negative perceptions about regulation, since in order to tackle the issues we are discussing… it looked like in their discussions that regulation will inevitably be essential.

So those were some of the comments. And then I’ll just comment that in the polls and the surveys that were done from these groups, small group discussions apparently were considered to be… 96% of people thought they were valuable. The briefing materials that were given with pros and cons, 86% called those valuable. The plenary sessions with the experts were 68%, and the event as a whole was seen as 90%, actually 90.92%. So that’s a fast result, but we don’t yet have the analysis of how do people change their minds, which I think is one of the more exciting aspects of this, to see what do people learn when they do this kind of event. And so we’ll maybe be able pass that word later.

Amri Price (07:28:39):

No, absolutely. Yes, Asa.

Asa (07:28:41):

Just on the note of hope. There’s been a lot about how irrational we are and we are on occasion very irrational human beings. But basically we are the rational animal, right?

Amri Price (07:28:53):


Asa (07:28:53):

We’re capable of thinking rationally and we want to think rationally, but we need the conditions for that to happen. And included in those conditions are a decent information environment, knowledge input, and a decent emotional environment. Then our rationality will kick in because we are basically rational. I think one has to hold onto that idea when one discusses solutions to all of this, and not just thinking that it’s about trying to manipulate people to get to truth. We need to try to engage people’s basic rationality to get to truth.

Amri Price (07:29:28):

Absolutely. So I think that’s some really important points. We have a red light flashing here telling us to wrap it up, but maybe James if you have one last thought?

James (07:29:37):

Oh, I would just add, if you think about spreading this, the evaluation Saul mentioned on the platform are stunning. And we have other data to that effect. So people like it so much we think we could spread it. We wouldn’t allow people to recommend to their friends. If we were using a scientific sample, there we’re very careful about a stratified random sample. But for scaling the deliberations, those results are the hope. And we even find effects from using the online platform a year later, in terms of how people voted. At least those are two cases, one for the US general election, last presidential election, and more recently for the midterm; affects a year later. So it makes a real impression on people when they deliberate in depth, moderated discussion with diverse others, getting their questions answered, learning to listen to others, can have a long term effect on people. So, truth, trust and hope altogether.

Amri Price (07:30:44):

Yeah. Absolutely. And there’s a real impact here. I think when we were preparing for this panel, we were going to talk about how we could potentially use this in decision making in the European Union, over here in the US and so on. I think we can keep that going hopefully with all of you after we wrap this up. But I’m going to really thank you very, very much for this session and it’s been a real pleasure. Thank you so much.

Thank you so much. Thank you.

Maya (07:31:16):

Thank you very much. And what is coming to me after those both panels, but also those two days is the words of Marian Turski, famous Polish journalist and also Auschwitz survivor, ” We shall not be indifferent.” And I think that by being here, by spending those two days in here either in this room or online, we are not indifferent. And it’s on us to right now build on solutions and take actions. And tomorrow we will meet on the solution sessions.

Amri Price (07:31:53):

Indeed. So we’re going to move towards gradually bringing us to a conclusion of the session today. I think we all engaged a lot of gray matter. There was a lot of thinking, doing, a lot of conversations took place. I hope that we can really channel that energy towards action, towards conclusions that will actually take us to a better future in a very practical sense. And like Maia said, we have a whole day of solution sessions tomorrow, which will be taking place at different locations and dealing with different solutions that have been developed, linked with the conversations that we’ve had today.

And so maybe just a little bit of housekeeping before we go. Essentially, if you took any notes from the breakouts and would like to share them with us for a follow-up, for any sort of reflection and conclusions, you can email George Bandy from Alliance4Europe. Yes, that is the very same George, the George from yesterday. And that is so that we can reflect on what happened here and we will be working with the summit organizers to see how to flesh it out.

Maya (07:33:10):

And it’s important to show what you did and what we all did to bring it further. And for us it will be the end. It was a pleasure to be your MCs for the entire day.

Amri Price (07:33:24):

Yes. And we would just like to say a big, big thank you from our side for the entire team of people that organized this, I think there are a lot of you also in the room. It’s been a huge impressive conversation and a process that really brought everybody together. And now-

Maya (07:33:43):

After those two days, I feel super inspired and I hope that you do as well.

Amri Price (07:33:47):

Yes, exactly. The energy in the room is palpable and let’s take it forward now. So basically to welcome us out, we’re going to have Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academies.

Maya (07:34:03):

And Vidar Helgesen, Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation. Thank you so much.

Amri Price (07:34:07):

Thank you so much. Coming full circle.

Marcia McNutt (07:34:10):

Thanks to both of you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

Well, here we are at the end of another busy day. Vidar and I circulated around through all the breakouts this afternoon, visiting each one at least once, and we’re really thrilled by the ideas that were coming out of the groups. One comment I remember from one of the groups was, two of the women who represented nonprofits at the head of the room were scratching their heads saying, “Why are we as nonprofits having to put so much effort into fixing the problems created by the for-profit companies?” And I thought, “Yeah, there you go. Why is that our problem?”

However, I heard many good ideas at these breakouts for solutions, and some of them, I already have wheels turning in my mind about how we can implement them in the science sphere. Now, I know that misinformation is not limited to science, but the National Academy does I believe, have a special obligation to deal with misinformation in science. And I’m just imagining combining this idea of some expert panels with deliberative polling in order to get to the public, quick consensus and showing the range of opinions of the experts so they can see this one is a done deal, everyone agrees or almost everyone agrees. Whereas there’s still a lot to be discussed on some other topics. And I think that would be very helpful for the public to understand that when science comes to consensus, it is with extraordinary evidence and it’s not just based on a whim.

And then finally, the last thing I want to say is I want to know how many people in this room are under 33 years old? All right, not that many. Well, those of you who are under 33 are likely the only ones who went through junior high school during the social media era. The rest of us were all insulated from that. And so if we think we have a problem with misinformation and disinformation, think of all the younger people who spent a large part of their time as maturing from youth into adults being influenced by social media. So this is a problem that if we think it’s big for us, it’s even more for the younger generation. And that’s why we really have to solve this problem.

Vidar Helgesen (07:37:07):

And what Marcia just said about ideas spinning in her head already, isn’t that exactly what’s going on here, and what will keep going on tomorrow in the solution sessions but should keep going on beyond that. We have these beautiful examples of the international panel for the information environment that came out of the last summit, being launched at this summit. We already have ideas buzzing, in the making here, that might be something big launched at the next summit. Who knows?

When ideas meet ideas, there is innovation taking place. When people meet people, there is action that can take place. And when those people represent institutions, that can really be impactful action. And that’s why we should really keep the discussion going and keep ideas growing and innovations growing. So that will have more action in this incredibly important field.

And for that, I would like to thank you all, the participants here, the participants online. The solution sessions tomorrow will also be streamed online. Keep bringing in the ideas also from the digital space, to the assistant magician George, and create more magic in the days ahead. But to the organizations and partners that have been active yesterday, today and to the solution sessions tomorrow, thanks a lot. It’s been a great privilege to work with you. And thanks to Marcia, thanks to NAS, and see you tomorrow in a number of solutions sessions.

Marcia McNutt (07:38:57):

Yes. Yes, thank you all. Thank you.

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