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"AI and social networks are an invaluable resource for humanity, but care must be taken not to misuse. University professor Francesco Pira says

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ROMA, Wednesday, July 10, 2019 (MERCURPRESS.IT) - Interviewed by Soft Power, the Italian Blog of Public Affairs (www.softpowerblog.it), the sociologist and professor of communication and journalism at the Department of Ancient and Modern Civilizations at the University of Messina, Francesco Pira, warned against an improper use of AI, or Artificial Intelligence, because the algorithms on which it is based can alter the perception of reality.

"The power of the algorithm - declared Professor Pira - modifies the perception of reality, alters the congnitive bias on the basis of which I define the frame and attribute truthfulness to the contents to which I am exposed. This creates a manipulation that has deep effects on the cultural and cognitive models of individuals distorting the mechanisms of building trust and credibility. The polarization of public opinion generates violence and fear and crystallizes opinions and positions, making the work of debucking and reconstructing credibility based on the search for objective truth difficult. Bauman himself points out that modernization has led to the prevalence of economic democracy over the democracy of culture, transforming it into a mass industrialized market for culture, thus taking away tools for interpretation and reducing more and more the space for the creation of a collective culture in favor of a "cultural" consumerism, as a result of the breakdown of social ties, of content increasingly "bite and run".

"The social networks era - continues Pira - has changed the language and the management of interpersonal relations. Over the course of the day, we have many more social relationships than social ones. We have many tools at our disposal. And we adults are following the younger ones in the digitization of feelings, in the window dressing of any performance. We get to know each other in chat, we communicate through apps of all kinds. We need to document everything we do, every moment, with an almost frantic rhythm. We look for listening, friendship and love on social networks. We hope that someone will share our post, a thought, a maxim, a photo. We wait for the like or the little heart. It is the full gratification of what we have written or thought about, or even copied. Words are increasingly replaced by images. Before, friends were told what had happened, what they felt, emotions, quarrels, today it almost seems that if you do not produce a story on Instagram to document what we are doing or happened, we are not credible or recognizable.

A meticulous scholar of the works and thought of Zygmunt Bauman, Professor Pira met the Polish sociologist, philosopher and academician personally on many occasions. "I had listened to him many times. I have read all his books, I have seen all his television interviews. He is undoubtedly one of the authors most cited in my texts together with the fathers of sociology. He was one of the very few smokers with whom I shared (passive smoking) more cigarettes in my life considering the time spent together. Of course I didn't always share his thoughts, but I found every one of his reflections to be the result of in-depth study. Each of his phrases had a reference "link", and generated further insights and new research. Today he joined his beloved wife: this will make him happy. To us who have studied and esteemed him, he leaves an unbridgeable void. I jealously guard one of his books with dedication. He deals with the theme of identity like few others have been able to do.

The full interview is available at https://www.softpowerblog.it/2019/07/soft-power-intervista-il-professor.html


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