News from the oblivious…New York Times reporter Charles McDermid offers us a demonstration of myopia. In his December 13 “Briefing” column (subtitled “Here’s what you need to know”), Mr. McDermid inadvertently tells us exactly what we need to know, albeit probably not for the reasons he thought.
First, we get a critique of the use of the term “fake news” which he claims is “now in heavy rotation with autocrats and dictators from Venezuela to Cambodia. In China, Russia, Turkey, Thailand and many other countries, leaders are using it to silence critics and thwart media scrutiny.” But then Mr. McDermid breathlessly tells us that “Google is opening an artificial intelligence lab in Beijing–a small but symbolic attempt to tiptoe back into the world’s biggest online arena. Other big technology names have also set up A.I. shops in China to capitalize on growling skills and lavish state support.”
Really. Any possible connection between these two news items you can think of?
But he goes on: “Stunned by Beijing’s sudden, rapid campaign to tear down apartment buildings and evict migrants from poorer sections after a devastating fire, an artist began shooting and posting dozens of videos documenting the forced removal of thousands of people. Now Hua Yong is on the run from the police, moving from city to city, but still posting.”
Well, then. How’s that AI lab going to work out for Hua Yong? You can watch this video he posted that he made as he sang happy birthday to his daughter and then was captured by the Chinese police.
I appreciate the irony of Hua Yong posting his videos on YouTube, a Google company. The fact that YouTube allows him a platform to reach the world does not absolve Google from its cooperation with the Chinese government.