On the Nature of Disinformation

From Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Julian– You know, I still have a lot of questions to ask you about your past.
Garak– I’ve given you all the answers I’m capable of.
Julian– You’ve given me answers alright. But they were all different. But what I want to know is out of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren’t?
Garak– My dear doctor, they’re all true.
Julian– Even the lies?
Garak– Especially the lies.

This is an ongoing quest. I have quite an extensive library of books concerning information theory yet only one of them, Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, 2nd Ed., mentions the word “disinformation.” But it doesn’t even bother describing it.

Dr. Luciano Floridi talks about the philosophy of misinformation and disinformation. He (among others before him, I presume, not looking in his books at the moment) includes discussing the logic-based fact that disinformation is not actual information, (I oversimplify) because it is not informative.

While I agree with this point of view, there is another that is even more important for information organisms. Disinformation is consumed as if it is information. Any artificial intelligence (designed with the intention of assisting our information processing needs) must be designed to process information in a way that can distinguish misinformation or disinformation. Even it it can only apply probabilities with the mention of the fact that it may be mis-informative or dis-informative, we need to know!


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