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The Crises of Expertise and Belief: An Overview

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Chapter Nine – Technological Acceleration that Advances the Crises

In this chapter we consider the possibility that our world is entering an era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), with facts primarily being conveyed, manipulated and used by “machines” that are not human. Most importantly, as artificial intelligence along with deepfake technology continues to advance, the risks they pose are becoming more evident and in the opinions of some “experts”, threatening human existence. While these technologies have the potential to revolutionize various fields, including medicine, entertainment and communication, they also have the potential to do significant harm. “Facts”, as we know them, might soon be obliterated.

The more advanced the technology becomes, the more it poses a risk to humanity—at least according to some influential “experts”. There is already evidence of AI being used for nefarious purposes, such as the development of autonomous weapons, which could trigger wars and conflicts. There is also the prospect of social media bots being created which could be used to spread misinformation and propaganda.

Moreover, as AI systems become more complex, it is difficult to predict how they will behave in certain situations. There is a risk that AI could become pervasive and uncontrollable, leading to unintended consequences. AI could be used to manipulate people and organizations, causing chaos and destabilizing society. We describe multiple sources in this chapter that speak to these risks and the impact of emerging technologies on both expertise and belief, while also exploring the more intimate connection to be found between ourselves and technologies that are “embedded” within us.

Section Two

Down the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland

Section One focused on some of the observable, practical and directly impactful aspects of the Crises of Expertise and Belief. It also touched on a description of people who tend to believe “crazy stuff” and the psychological drivers that foster these behaviors. Section Two delves into some of the deeper history, research and theoretical underpinnings of these dynamics. We refer to this Section as going “Down the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland” because – in most cases – it is fantastical if not simply interesting to those who want to know more.

Chapter Ten – Residents of Wonderland I: The Believers (Part One)

The 21st Century expert –and the leader of contemporary organizations—are often facing a perennial force of resistance and negativity. This force is the authoritarian personality that is to be found among a disturbingly large proportion of people—particularly large during periods of pervasive anxiety (such as those found in VUCA-Plus environments). It is the authoritarian who is most susceptible to influence from unreliable sources. It is the authoritarian who is most likely to find or build a Bubble of Belief which very little of the actual world is allowed to penetrate.

In this chapter we examine the people in our society who may be most susceptible to lies and reconstructed reality—and are most likely to bring about the crisis of legitimate expertise. In this first chapter we attend specifically to the nature of and impact of authoritarian perspectives among members of 21st Century societies. We explore the original studies of authoritarian personalities in California as well as precursors, refinements and criticisms of these major studies.

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