Finding Truth and Redefining 21st Century Digital Discourse

Our future is only as good as our algorithms

It’s much easier to put out mindless content than it is to create educated, proven statements, and this creates one of the greatest quests of the 21st century. – To find the truth.

The speed and volume of information has increased exponentially. Unfortunately, the amount of misinformation compared to nuanced and thoughtful facts and informed opinions has also increased dramatically. It’s much easier to put out mindless content than it is to create educated, proven statements.

I believe that the only thing that can save us is to move towards evidence-based algorithms in our information dissemination platforms. Unlike the current popularity and engagement driven models of giants like Google and Facebook, evidence-based algorithms prioritise accuracy, nuance and truth. Implementing such algorithms requires not only technological innovation, but also a cultural shift in how we value and engage with information. Companies like Perplexity AI and platforms like Substack are steps towards this future, demonstrating the potential for more reliable, insightful information ecosystems. To effectively combat misinformation, we must invest in and prioritise technologies that facilitate informed, critical discourse, moving beyond the limitations of today’s internet giants towards a new paradigm of digital communication.

The Covid-19 pandemic underscored the perilous impact of misinformation, a threat so significant that the World Economic Forum has recognized it as one of the foremost global risks. Amidst this backdrop, the scientific community witnessed a contentious battle over truth, exemplified by the contrasting experiences of Peter Daszak and Alina ChanDaszak, a researcher with vested interests, was accused for months of spreading misinformation about Covid’s origins. In contrast, Chan, a Harvard molecular biologist, was vilified by Daszak and others who allegedly sought to discredit her research because of their vested interests. This scenario illustrates the complex interplay between personal interests and public trust in science, and raises critical questions about the mechanisms in place to guard against the spread of falsehoods in times of crisis.

I encourage investors, leaders and entrepreneurs to focus on combating the pervasive problem of misinformation. The plethora of CRMs, databases and tech startups, while valuable, pale in comparison to the urgent need to address the misinformation crisis. To be effective in this fight, we must create institutions and incentives that prioritise accurate, thoughtful and nuanced information sharing.

Globally, individuals are using existing technologies to navigate their realities, with an unprecedented proliferation of blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels offering diverse perspectives. This has spurred the formation of communities dedicated to rational discourse to counter the spread of misinformation.

But the time has come to evolve. Platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised access to and exchange of content, but their contributions have come with significant drawbacks, including mental health issues, political division, the spread of misinformation and dishonest dialogue. The imperative now is to develop technologies that not only mitigate these negatives, but also promote the best of human nature.

The Failure of Google’s Noble Aims

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google, envisioned a search engine that would go beyond keyword frequency to assess the relevance and quality of web content. They aspired to create a search engine that would “understand everything in the world”, a goal that remains elusive.

Today, Google’s algorithm, while revolutionary, is manipulated by marketers to prioritise product over truth, burying real information under layers of SEO-optimised content. This manipulation reveals a fundamental flaw in prioritising popularity over accuracy, undermining efforts to promote a knowledge-based society.

The focus on popularity rather than evidence stifles innovation and discourages the exploration of ideas that challenge established norms. Conversely, evidence-based approaches – which value research and facts over opinion – lead to more informed decisions and innovation. This methodology, similar to the rigour applied in fields such as medicine and education, underscores the importance of basing decisions on solid evidence rather than fleeting trends or biased perspectives.

In real estate, for example, buyers rely on hard data about a property rather than the opinion of an estate agent. This preference for facts over opinions reflects the broader need for an information ecosystem based on truth and reliability.

Google and similar platforms have inadvertently fostered a landscape where truth is often buried under the weight of what is popular, not what is factual. This emphasis on engagement over accuracy has led to a proliferation of misinformation that challenges the integrity of our digital information ecosystem.

The content delivered by Google, Twitter feeds or CNN reports does not guarantee truth or accuracy, yet we often mistakenly interpret it as such. Ideally, these platforms should prioritise the delivery of relevant, useful and accurate information. However, they tend to present content based on what they predict will interest us, influenced by our location, search history and preferences.

Redefining the Information Landscape

In a world inundated with noise and misinformation, discerning truth becomes increasingly challenging. This pervasive spread of misinformation, amplified by both social and mainstream media, fuels partisanship, fragmenting societal cohesion. To counteract these issues, innovative companies need to emerge with a focus on:

  • Fact-Checking Platforms: Establishing platforms dedicated to verifying the accuracy of information, aiding individuals in distinguishing between true and false narratives.
  • Curated Information Platforms: Creating services that aggregate news and studies from diverse sources, offering a balanced perspective and mitigating the effects of echo chambers.
  • Media Literacy Education: Developing educational programs aimed at enhancing critical analysis skills, enabling individuals to navigate the digital information landscape more effectively.
  • Social Media Moderation Services: Offering moderation solutions to social platforms, ensuring the removal of misinformation and fostering constructive discourse.
  • Dialectic Content Creation: Envisioning content platforms akin to Vice or Vox but devoid of political biases, focusing instead on nuanced discussions and informed debates.

These ventures represent a proactive approach to reshaping the digital environment, steering it towards a future where information integrity and truth prevail.

My Favorite Approaches So Far

  • GPT Chat: The mother of them all. GPTChat can automatically filter and organize large amounts of information, such as news articles or social media posts, based on a set of criteria and detect and flag potentially false information, which makes it easier for users to find relevant and trustworthy information.
  • Perplexity: This is my new favorite tool. I use it for everything I used to use Google for and more. “Perplexity AI is an answer engine that delivers accurate answers to complex questions using large language models.”
  • Substack: Substack is a powerful platform that helps authors create, distribute, and monetize their newsletters. It allows authors to easily create a newsletter website with a custom domain and logo, manage subscribers, and send emails..
  • Matter: Matter pulls everything you want to read into one beautiful place. With powerful tools, curation, seamless audio and more, we’re building a reader for today’s internet.
  • Waverly: Our lives today are filled with noise and distraction. The content you need is scattered through your inbox, your favorite news sites, your social networks. Waverly sifts through all the newsletters, blogs, and specialized publications to bring you only the content you need, directly into a distraction-free mobile app
  • Refind: Every day we pick 5 links from around the web that make you smarter, tailored to your interests
  • Informed: The news, curated. Get world-class journalism from premium publishers, curated by editors & experts, all in one app.
  • Consensus: Consensus uses AI to find answers in research papers. 
  • Elicit: “Elicit uses language models to help you automate research workflows, like parts of literature review.” 
  • Farnam Street: A weekly newsletter packed with timeless insights and actionable ideas from a wide range of disciplines.
  • Center for Humane Technologies: A non profit that works to make technology more humane, to protect people from manipulation and addiction, and to ensure that technology serves humanity’s highest values. The ultimate goal is to create a healthier and more equitable digital society.
  • Interintellect: InterIntellect is an online community that brings together people with a shared interest in learning and teaching. It provides a platform for connecting with experts and peers in any field, from business and finance to science and technology.
  • The Consilience Project: “The Consilience Project publishes novel research at the leading edges of global risk mitigation, governance design, and culture. Our content explores the key challenges and existential threats facing humanity, and the underlying problems with current approaches for addressing them. We outline how our social systems and institutions need to be redesigned if free, open, non-authoritarian societies are to survive.”
  • The Society Library: The Society Library is a digital archive of humanity’s ideas, ideologies, and world-views; with a particular emphasis on social, political, and religious perspectives.
  • BigThink: Big Think unifies the inquisitive and connects the curious, providing a platform to the world’s top thinkers, entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, artists, leaders and experts from every domain.

What does this all mean?

The dawn of the 21st century has ushered in an era where truth and misinformation intertwine, complicating our quest for genuine knowledge. To champion the cause of truth, we must pivot from the allure of algorithms driven by popularity and immediate reactions to those founded on evidence, which promise greater accuracy in the information we receive.

This pivot necessitates pioneering technologies designed to reward the dissemination of precise, nuanced, and considered information. While giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have significantly shaped our informational landscapes, the path forward lies in transcending these platforms to herald a new epoch for humanity.

In our relentless pursuit of truth, we must remain vigilant against the snares of misinformation that pervade the digital realm, steadfast in our commitment to fostering an informed global community.

I'm a 3x founder and my latest startup,, is addressing the existential risks to our information ecosystem. As an entrepreneur, coach, and mentor, my goal is simple: to help people question the narratives they tell themselves and ground their actions and beliefs in the principles of critical thinking. I've worked with hundreds of founders and executives as we tackle growth and emotional challenges through a holistic, critical lens that recognizes the complex, multivariate nature of problems.

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