Truth in an Age of Information

Alan Dix

Professorial Fellow, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Wales, UK
Director of the Computational Foundry, Swansea University, Wales, UK

Keynote at International Conference on Computer-Human Interaction Research and Applications (CHIRA 2022), Malta, 27-28 Oct 2022.

Download draft paper (PDF, 378K)

Politicians have always been economical with the truth and newspapers have toed an editorial line. However, never in recent times does it seem that confidence in our media has been lower. From the Brexit battle bus in the UK to suspected Russian meddling in US elections, fake news to alternative facts – it seems impossible for the general public to make sense of the contradictory arguments and suspect evidence presented both in social media and traditional channels. Even seasoned journalists and editors seem unable to keep up with the pace and complexity of news.

These problems were highlighted during Covid when understanding of complex epidemiological data was essential for effective government policy and individual responses.

If democracy is to survive and nations coordinate to address global crises, we desperately need tools and methods to help ordinary people make sense of the extraordinary events around them: to sift fact from surmise, lies from mistakes, and reason from rhetoric. Similarly, journalists need the means to help them keep track of the surfeit of data and information so that the stories they tell us are rooted in solid evidence.

Crucially in increasingly politically fragmented societies, we need to help citizens explore their conflicts and disagreements, not so that they will necessarily agree, but so that they can more clearly understand their differences.

These are not easy problems and do not admit trite solutions. However, there is existing work that offers hope: tracing the provenance of press images, ways to expose the arguments in political debate, tracking the influence of news on electoral opinion.

I hope that this talk will give hope that we can make a difference and offer challenges for future research.


"Truth in an Age of Information" Dr. Alan Dix (CHIRA 2022) from INSTICC on Vimeo.




Supported by UKRI EPSRC Not-Equal Network+, Social Justice through the Digital Economy

Alan Dix 28/10/2022