Current Project

Post Truth Initiative

A bullsh*t detector that can detect ‘post-truth’ (the 2016 Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year) discourse in real-time? Linguist Professor Nick Enfield will lead an interdisciplinary team that includes top researchers in physics, philosophy, data science, politics and international relations, media and communications, and software engineering, to investigate the threats posed by such ‘post-truth’ phenomena as fake news, ‘alternative facts’ and lying. The project is developing a sophisticated artificial intelligence program that can identify speech devoid of logic, evidence and reason.

“Rational discourse exists but is lacking where it would seem to matter most,” Professor Enfield said.

“Evidence and logic often count for little, whether the issue is carbon footprints or food supply, city planning or campaign debates, health policy or anti-terrorism.”

“This is post-truth discourse: the disregard for evidence in decision-making, and a deep suspicion of experts. The problem is worsening, and the stakes are increasingly high, as we see from the spectacles of Brexit and Trump to the world’s stunning inaction on climate change.”

Professor Nick Enfield leads the post-truth discourse project, which is one of The University of Sydney SREI 2020 multidiciplinary projects.

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