Digital Revolution

Chapter 1

Man escapes in entertainment and is manipulated by the media.

It exists differents kinds of media (TV, Radio, Web, Press), these medias are not only recording devices but also ways to inform people. When a fact happen, the several medias speak about this fact and personalize the information according to their points of views, political views and so on. Media's analysis about a subject is possible once the messages delivered have been analyzed by them. This analysis is heard by the audience most of the time without further reflexion and personal analysis. That is the matter that feeds the stereotypes and prejudices. In France, journalists are submitted to journalism’s deontology. They commit to meet certain obligations, like, among others:

  • broadcast verified information,
  • collect and broadcast information independently,
  • act honestly,
  • respect civil-rights.

However, journalists are sometimes more ambitious and fail in being impartial messengers. They are not always impartial and may fail in recounting the information in the same words than they have been told. Media are aware of the power they wield on their audience. Each article is written with the expectation that it will be seen or read.The influence of media on the political and economic spheres has driven the journalists to be wild and express their opinions when reporting. To remain unbiaised, the public should collect information through different medias, and make some reflexion about it. Stop being a passive watcher and start to understand what is going around us.

Journalists have to make the buzz, it is the rush to have on first the information. Now they don't have time to treat an information deaply, consumers musn't be bored. Moreover with the multiplication of the websites speciallized in the Information, it is difficult to find a valuable information.

We need to take into account that, depending on their background, readers and listeners may interpret the information received differently . For instance, a channel that wants to manipulate people’s opinions will be likely to reformulate information integrating targeted people's way of thinking. Thus, today's manipulation is not the result of technical progress but the one of the transformation of messages by medias.

Here is one question: how does some medias manage to manipulate the audiences? A picture has much more impact than words. It is thus easier to manipulate people’s mind through images than words. Actually, the best way to manipulate audiences is the media reports accompanied with pictures. There are five reasons why it is a best method:

  1. Media reports with both words and pictures are much more attractive. It takes a lot of time for audiences to read and understand the reports. Media reports just have words, especially some long reports, although it can explain the events clearly, more often, audiences lost their interests in the long article, only read half of it and finally gave up. As a real result, pure reports cannot really achieve the goal of manipulation.
  2. Human beings are instinctly visual and colorful pictures give them stronger feelings. Indeed, a picture taken out of its context still have impact even when people know the truth about it. Complex articles give some figures and symbols while pictures have more impact on people's imagination. They can imagine a scenario as the picture features the placeand the characters at specific time. In addition, people prefer not spending time understanding the why and the how and accept things as they think they are. Besides, everyone's understanding is different and the reorganization of pictures in people's mind thanks to the text is also different. It goes against manipulation while picture can simply solve the problem. Making all the audiences to accept the same picture reduce the time of deep thinking. This is manipulation.
  3. There is no point in simple manipulation. High level of manipulation is the ultimate goal. A high-level manipulation means: to affect a person's thinking mode through texts and pictures so as to influence public’s opinion instantly. It can be divided into several parts: first is the headline. Headline can offer audiences a first impression of the whole event. Second, the pictures. Their effect will be automatically affected by the first impression of headlines. Third, describing the pictures with some short, exagerated sentences will touche people's sensitivity. To conclude, audiences' thinking can be easily manipulated. Furthermore, the picture can be taken out of its context, at an inapropraite moment. Which allows journalists to divulgate manipulated informations.
  4. Both medias and audiences are lazy. Audiences don’t want to read too many words and medias want to blindly manipulate audiences to gain influence and improve their social status. None of them pay attention to the quality or the veracity of their judgements. Media reports with more pictures and less words can satisfy both of them.
  5. Pictures are easy to manipulate. Nowadays, photo retouching softwares allow to modify easily and in a performant way a photography. The evolution of the technology in this field makes a modification done by a professional practically undetectable. To illustrate this trusth, new terms have been used as “Pallywood” for example. It has been created by the combination of two words : Palestine and Hollywood to emphasize the use of media-related staging in the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Media’s manipulation are sometimes normal and well-known things. Indeed, if the take the example of newspapers, the fact that journalists are expressing biased ideas is obvious. This is particularly clear on political matters. All important newspapers around the globe are biased. For example in France, the daily “Le Figaro” will present the latest news with a right point of view. Inversely, “Le Monde” will offering a center-left point of view. The particularity of those biased medias is that readers know before beginning reading the papers that the news that will be presented to them is reflecting a certain point of view.

In an entertainment society, it is much more important to improve social status by manipulating audiences than the pursuit of truth. Consequently, the more the pictures the better the manipulation.

Mass media does not only manipulate our way of thinking. By the entertainment, they also have an impact on our consumption. Television programs are produced in order to create a need or a want on the receiver’s mind. We can take as a example the concept of TV shows that assist people by renovating their house or by helping them to change their clothing style. The goal is to show to the audience the benefits of good and services that they would never have bought without watching these programs

Furthermore, messages evolve with technology. Let's take an example: when there were only press and radio as media, manipulation through pictures was impossible. Thus, words were needed to have an impact on people. When TV became largely widespread in households, it allowed a new and better way of expression for media. It was now possible to use both words and pictures for an impact to be twice stronger. Today, with the Internet, pictures don't need any words or explanations.

Crowd psychology is complex and represents a tremendous power in our society today. The use of the internet makes its impact bigger. Indeed, media make it easier to influence crowd opinion. When a psychological crowd is created, the unconscious dominates and people gather around an idea. The opinion of the crowd becomes more important than the opinion of each person that composed this crowd. When people see a picture and misunderstand it, this misunderstanding opinion is spread to many people. Manipulation operates through media but this manipulation is much more present because people are receptive and allow themselves to be manipulated.

Today, societies live in a world saturated with information whether they are on the television, the Internet, the radio or on newspapers as well. We also tend to consider this information true. As a result, our interpretation of the world is shaped by all these data we passively received without any critical look. But we can wonder: to what extend are we influenced? What can alter our judgment?

So that, we would make listen to the receiver what he wants to hear or rather what he hears easily, without getting tired. For example the receiver is likely to look at a certain type of information such as violent news items often put forward by the media. This attraction for the violent facts calls on to a morbid curiosity. As a result, the spectator is used to see the escalation of violence and he may see the world as a world made of dramas and horrors. It sometimes leads to live in the fear.

Then the receiver who is comparable to a spectator needs to be in touch by living another life. He goes back home, turns his television on, cuts itself from his circle of acquaintances and connects to the world. Then he discovers another kind of life; a life by proxy, with which he can identified with. The life of a Frenchman who sees his pension decrease or that of an American who sees his son leaving for Afghanistan or still that of the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who was not able to fetch her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. This kind of information diverts the public from everyday life. It is thus this desire of escape is the instruments of the information answer. But in this case we should wonder: what is the reality of the media report?

Moreover, advitersments is also a powerful tool with the aid of the media.Without the influence of the media, the message could not convey so fast. People can reach to different medias, from TV to social platforms, very easily. Take McDonald as an example, the solgan "Im lovin it" used in the advertisements has easily remembered by the public by repeated advertisments in different platforms.

Finally let's talk about entertainment. "Les Guignols de l'info" analize current events in an ironic way. Can we consider this ironic support a source of information ? If we consider only the case of the “Guignols” the information is biaised; it is analyzed and submitted to a severe judgment. Nevertheless, they fascinate and entertain their public thanks to the irony.

Entertainments also permit to divert attention from the real societal issues and the changes decided by the political elite. Television maintains the audience brain occupied by minor subjects and keeps them away for thinking on important topics. Nowadays, people spend about 3 hours and 45 minutes watching TV according to a Mediamétrie study. This consequent period of time allows the medias to have an huge impact on people. This strategy called “diversion strategy” is also used by the TV news. According by the National Audiovisual Institute, the amount of topics dedicated to minor news item has been increased by 73 pourcents between 2003 in 2013. However, we know that this kind of subjects are really far removed from societal problems and from the economical or political issues.

We have seen that there are many ways to manipulate the public opinion through the use of images of oriented informations. In other words we could say that medias are infantilizing the audience to influence it in a better way. They are making the information simple, and speaking to someone like to a child has always been a good way to manipulate him. However this could also been the simple consequence of the fact that we are submerged by information, and that medias have to simplify the information for it to be spread.

This leads us to another question : If the medias are truly manipulating the audience, to what extend do they do it ?

There are many answers to this question. As it was evoked earlier, it should be to strengthen the social status of the journalists, which is quite odd. Actually, what is the relation between manipulating someone through information and improving your social status ? There is none. We can therefore put this option away.

A embryon of answer could be the idea according to which the Elite/The Government/The Lobbys, who actually are holding these very media companies, are the one manipulating us. This is the Complot theory. This Elite would have goals unknown to the main part of the population, and would infantilize it in order to control it and make it work for them. This is quite ridiculous, or totally terrifying. This would also be the limit of Capitalism, since the only end to this system is a world hold by an elite, as well intellectual, and financial.

Consequently, the only answer we could find for this question is the following :

The empowerment of education, ethic, and involvement in the important matters of our time, direct consequences of the consuming society, which leads to selfishness, avidity and laziness, has an effect on the medias. The journalists are less and less intelligent, cultivated and ethic-driven. This leads to a perverted information, with unsure sources, with easy subjects, even tabloid information. The audience feels manipulated, when people are just considered idiots and logically react consequently. Critical minds notify these changes in the information system, and Children-adults feel revolted… Before they change the channel and get back to reality-TV shows.

Technological tools are increasing power and risks

Over the next few decades, the continued development of dual-use technologies will provide major benefits to society. They will also create significant and unprecedented global risks, including risks created by new weapons of mass destruction and arms race. If synthetic biology is widely accessible it would give terrorist groups the ability to synthesise pathogens more dangerous than smallpox. Geoengineering technologies would give single countries the power to dramatically alter the earth’s climate. Distributed manufacturing could lead to nuclear proliferation on a much wider scale and rapid advances in artificial intelligence could give a single country a decisive strategic advantage. These scenarios may seem extreme or outlandish. But they are widely recognized as significant risks by experts in the relevant fields. To safely control these risks and highlight the potentially great benefits of these new technologies, we must proactively invest in research on a global scale.

Technique is not only a « digital technology » it also gathers human techniques, because technique needs knowledge. For centuries, survival product creation was the base of technologies. With the evolution of the society, technique became linked to military uses. However technique also enables the world to develop (transportation, new machines, health improvement etc).

In the previous centuries, technique was linked to the evolution of humanity in a constructive approach. Men of sciences discovered new methods, for example in medicine or in astrology. This development empowered human beings; they could show to the world their importance (the development’s course). Technique also helped to have a better use of capital and labor and thus helped our society's development. But for many decades, powerful men chose to use technique differently for a different purpose.

Inversely to those past decades and centuries, technology is now also use to create new human demands. Technology has here a new role: create new demands and highlights new lacks. Let’s take a recent example: Some people will put forward that the google glass is a significate technology improvement. Others will see in that a device that will make human a little bit more dependent of technology. This is the same of a large range of new electronic device. It doesn’t solve any important matter like sustainable development, human health, poverty, lack of water… Now technology contributes to make human life more comfortable, so that we can do things faster and where ever we want.

A positive aspect of technique is that it made the life simple and revolutionized the health and medicine fields. Technique has also drawbacks; it enabled the creation of destructive weapons that led to genocide. In such a case, technique has increased men's power but has also been a factor of destruction. Let’s talk about the literal definition of technique. Technique leads to the creation of computers, which have revolutionized society. Computers have brought advances in education and communication. However, this evolution has made people more dependent. More and more people choose to stay indoors and connect with others through computers. There is a risk of lack of human interaction that may have a negative impact on productivity. Another negative aspect to this course of new technologies is the replacement of human capabilities by machines and robots. More and more the society we live in is a robotic one (supermarket checkout, online shopping). Engineers are even creating robots that look like human beings. Pepper (creates by the French society Aldebaran Robotics) is a humanoid robot that can recreate human feelings; it can move and live independently.

While technology provides power to humanity (education, military, health, control on population), the main risk is that human beings become « enslaved » by technique and create a world where machine has the power.

To some extent, men distinguish themselves from other animals by their capacity to transform their environment thanks to technical tools. We redraw the evolution of the humanity in reference to this technical evolution, identified by the rests of tools found in archeological sites (carved stone, polite stone, bronze, iron, etc). This way of characterizing the period tells enough about the importance of the technical evolution in our vision of the human history. Let's begin by making some inventories :

  • Food safety: after the improvement of the techniques of fishing and hunting, we saw appearing breeding and farming. These techniques then evolved thanks to the diverse agricultural techniques, mechanization, preservation of food, chemical and pesticidal inputs and biotechnologies...
  • Equipment and machines: the evolution of tools and machines allowed enormous gains in efficiency. It started by the shaping of the flexible, moldable of hard materials and ended by the industrialization of tools manufacturing. Today this evolution consists of standardization and goes towards the automation, robotization or miniaturization,
  • Health: less dangerous or healthier lifestyles, evolution of the hygiene and the medical techniques (surgery, medication, diagnosis, anesthesia, asepsis, vaccination, antibiotics, medical imaging, technological assistanc) and also of the prevention.
  • Information, education and diffusion of the culture: writing, papers and ink, printing office, photography, cinema, record player, telecommunications, reproduction and audio, video and IT recording and, Internet
  • Armament: misappropriation of the tools of hunting or farming, arcs, metallic blades, gunpowder and firearms, military use custom of the means of transportation, the atom bomb, the radio-controlled vectors. At the same time, techniques of defense, piece of information and disinformation. Generally speaking, these evolutions led to an increase in performance (speed, distances, quantities, precision, sizes extremes, efficiency.

Yet it is not enough to see this power in first degree by disregarding human values. Indeed progress of the armament, the inflation of information, the use of intensive medication and so on… lead to all kinds of side effects (depletion of resources, war, pollution, increasing complexity sometimes doubtful utility). We are now at a time when worries and doubts multiply. Some drifts are becoming increasingly apparent: expensive or destructive futility, uncontrolled risks. They prompt again to question this uncontrolled machine of the race in the technical progress. Indeed, it is less and less sure that this " technical Progress " meets the basic needs of the humanity. Is it really necessary to continue at all costs to dominate nature, to ensure comfort ignoring seasons and geography, to look for eternal youth ?

In front of this assessment at least complex which leave us two centuries of industry, it is important to think, and to try to arbitrate, with a lucid look, between technophiles and technophobes. The time has come, having better understood measured the powers as the risks, to exercise our right inventory on technical progress and think its good orientation. These ambiguous terms "sustainable development" or "green growth" will perhaps then find their true meaning.