Following on from my post about the Unicorn, here’s another piece of micro-fiction written for a specific purpose, the 7 banned words theme at New Flash Fiction. I liked the concept of what they were doing – short pieces that contained words recently banned from US government press statements (note: I can’t find the original submission form, but that’s how I remember it).
This was my offering – I’ll let you guess which are the banned words.
‘A transgender fetus? That’s insane. Impossible. That’s ridiculous.’
‘It’s a science-based study sir. It shows we can determine in the womb if Mother Nature has got it wrong.’
‘So, we’re all vulnerable now, are we? Vulnerable to the crazies before we’re even born.’
It’s an entitlement sir and it could save a lot of money; correcting in the womb would be much cheaper.’
‘Nobody has an entitlement to be “corrected” so that’s a stupid argument.’
‘Imagine how all those so-called evidence-based studies would look though. It’d improve the diversity stats without all the legal fuss and bother we have to put up with now.’
‘I won’t allow it. No. Simple. Got it? No.’
‘But, you could have been a woman. Imagine having the sort of body you crave so much. As your own.’
‘Out. Get out.’
The president sat in his office alone, sad and wishing for a different life.
I came across these two stories last week – there’s an algorithm that can detect deceit in your social media feed and Twitter has been telling people they don’t exist.
This led me to ponder what it would be like to be in charge of a social media company with a conscience.
Imagine you’re uncomfortable with providing a platform from which people tell lies that are stored for future generations as the accurate record of our social history.
If your algorithms can detect deceit and detect it more effectively than human beings – that’s the claim – then would you consider it your moral duty to find the lies and delete them all? Of course you’d have to trust the algorithms, and their creators, to not deceive you.
Would you delete everything that appeared to be a lie, no matter how big or small?
I wonder if Twitter is temporarily suspending accounts while it cleanses them.
Have you checked your social media history recently?
Maybe you should…
photo credit: 000109 via photopin (license)
Stephen spoke to a full tent of 250 people at the Greenbelt Festival…
“Some of us believe that every point-of-view is valid and we should live and let live. Some of us believe there are concrete truths on which everyone should base their world-view, whether that’s in science, atheism or religion. Both extremes are dangerous and most of us are somewhere in between. How do we decide where to sit on that continuum and what are the consequences of our choice?”
(you can purchase the talk here)
Stephen also wrote an article about truth…
Truth is what you believe, so believe what is true
Who decides what is true? It’s difficult to know who to trust and traditionally we looked to the educators, the politicians and the clergy, but they’ve become crowd pleasers rather than crowd leaders.
As a layman in relation to theology, philosophy and science, I’ve been thinking about the nature of truth. There are plenty of facts we all agree on, but the hypotheses that emerge from these facts can vary and that’s when it becomes difficult to agree, or even discuss, what is true. It can be hard to believe in something and hold it lightly enough to genuinely welcome the other point of view or even change your mind. Continue reading