Laszlo Ratesic is a nineteen-year veteran of the Speculative Service. He lives in the Golden State, the only place left in what was once America. Laszlo's job is to bring the worst criminals to justice, those who tell lies. In his new novel, Ben Winters creates a world which might sound Eden-esque in our era of misinformation.
It's getting more difficult to distinguish real from fake news, AI-assisted technology allows a bad actor to splice celebrity heads onto the faces of actors in a pornographic video, and major news organizations need to keep track of how often America's president lies.
Yet, we should be careful what we wish for. Philosophers like Derrida have long questioned the nature of truth; can there be one truth? If so, whose truth is it?
While few of us want to return to the pre-internet days when everyone got their news from Walter Cronkite, we need to understand how to recognize when information is false and how it is spread. It's too easy to blame ignorance or a willful repudiation of the truth for the spread of misinformation. It's a lot more about who we trust.
For those who fear a Golden State could be our future, there's hope on the horizon if we're willing to pay attention.
- Ben Winters - Author of ten novels including Underground Airlines, the award-winning Last Policeman trilogy, and most recently Golden State: A Novel
- James Owen Weatherall - Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of California, Irvine and the author of three books. His most recent is The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread, co-authored with Cailin O’Connor
- Aviv Ovadya - Founder of the Thoughtful Technology Project, set to launch soon, and a non-resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democrac (@metaviv)
Colin McEnroe and Jonathan McNicol contributed to this show, which originally aired on March 7, 2019.