In recent years, fake news has been rampant because of social media. They are spread more easily because social media tools like facebook, instagram, twitter or telegram make it extremely easy to create fake content and to “Share” content anonymously. They have created a lot of division all over the world where they undermine democratic elections and in Singapore, fake news has created a lot of social division & tension.
In the last one and a half years, the world has been deep in the pandemic and fake news on all sides are creating a lot of tension on the way forward - especially in the areas of vaccines. In the absence of confirmed and verified facts, the division would never heal. In our core, we believe openness is required for facts to be confirmed and verified. While sharing and listening on social media is one of the processes we must do, we also believe that at times seemingly extreme measures have to be taken. Like taking institutions, corporations, the press, medical institutions and governments to task in the court of law under oath to clarify facts and to be made responsible for all the information they have released in the course of their work.
Truth is a herculean task not for the faint of heart. While open discussion is essential, it is not sufficient.
When I started Ikibook Limited in 2018, one of its aims was to manage a depository of artistic and intellectual property and securing its storage on the blockchain as this will serve as a decentralized network which is untamperable and secure. Such a network would ensure and preserve the integrity of information shared.
Never would I realise the importance of that work in today’s information crisis. Documentaries such as the Social Dilemma (released 26 Jan 2020 on Netflix) by Director Jeff Orlowski focuses on how big social media companies manipulate users by using algorithms that encourage addiction to their platforms. It also shows, fairly accurately, how platforms harvest personal data to target users with ads – and have so far gone largely unregulated. But the influence of these Big Techs: Google, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter etc goes much deeper and they have a potential impact on the information we receive and how truth is being perceived. That is why blockchain remains increasingly important today.
When our information is managed centrally by Big Tech Companies, they have a huge say in what is allowed to be shown and distributed and what does not. Central systems also have no checks and balances and rely on the benevolence of the operator to do the right thing. When a piece of data is stored on the blockchain on the other hand, no data / information can be removed without leaving a permanent and unmistakable trace on the ledger, consisting of a decentralized network.
The world is currently facing an unprecedented global pandemic crisis. Since Dec 2019 when the virus was first made known, it has devastated our lives and our lives have never been the same. One year on, the situation seems to be worsening. But besides dealing with a virus, it appears that we are also dealing with a systematic removal of critical information by doctors, scientists and news around the world by Big Tech Companies for a preferred narrative. This preferred narrative is a threat to science, to the pursuit of truth in all our human endeavours and needs to be addressed immediately if we were to save humanity from spiralling down the rabbit hole of misinformation and the web of deceit, we must act as citizens to verify and share information responsibly. Authorities must also answer concerns from scientists and other experts that may not necessarily fit a preferred narrative and address these questions raised by experts from different fields. Science is ever evolving and we must be open and willing to re-examine policies and approaches as a wrong decision could impact millions of lives.
As a Not-For-Profit Organisation committed to preserving knowledge, especially critical knowledge and information that could end the pandemic and save lives, I am calling for the appointment of a Watchmen Council to uphold truth, justice and integrity in society.
This Council will be made up of experts from various fields: Scientists, doctors, lawyers, philosophers, technologists, reporters, researchers, artists and ordinary citizens who are deeply concerned about the existing challenges faced by humanity. This council will work with other NGOs and informal communities committed to vigorous intellectual discourse in the pursuit of truth to provide comprehensive feedback to the government so that policies can be reflected to benefit the communities.
The world today is changing in a highly evolving and complex manner with laws that could hardly keep up with technology advancing at the speed of thought. Threats such as bio weapons, artificial intelligence, information control, climate change etc are real and imminent dangers that could cause massive destruction to lives.
The objective of the Council of experts will be to gather the best minds and see how we can solve these crises together and to engage the public to define the world that we want to live in.
Humanity must debate important ethical issues of what defines us as humans and to share these ethical discussions with the public. We believe that the Arts is an important bridge to invite reflection, discourse and present different views of human expression and experience. It is the voice of conscience reminding us of our humanity while we expand technologically to push the boundaries of science to solve real world problems.
The Watchmen Council is committed to the dissemination of essential information that would save lives and we are against systematic removal of information on the internet to suit a particular narrative by profit driven companies / individuals. We are against the use of technology, scientific experiments and research that threaten the sanctity of life.
As the Covid Pandemic presents unprecedented challenges to our lives, economy and health, we are committed to work with the government and give expert counsel to end the pandemic as soon as possible and to return the economy and livelihoods back to people.
We invite all “watchmen of the world” to join us in our mission and to protect the world and its people.
In solidarity we stand,
Director of Ikibook Limited