Where are you from, and why there?
I was born and raised in an Israeli kibbutz when socialist ideology came to its demise. As one who, already at the age of 14, vigorously argued over questions of shared property and the boundary between the individual and society, the ideological fractures were not theoretical, but tangible in daily life. I later pursued my B.A. in philosophy, economics and political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, focusing on the experience of nascent communities and their ability to learn from the kibbutz’s failure and apply its lessons.
Which issue(s) do you work on/care about, and why?
I work in the business of information. Why? First and foremost, because that is what I have been doing since I can remember: trying to discern between noise and essential information, tracing information sources to evaluate veracity and bias and exploring information voids. While access to information has scaled immensely over the past two decades, we – society at large, and we as individuals – don’t have the required toolkit to actually make sense of it. My job is to help build this toolkit and teach others how to apply it across a myriad of contexts.
Working as a journalist and as social media researcher and analyst, I am interested in the role trust and empathy have in shaping our communities. With a background in geopolitical analysis, I am interested in the ways this flood of information impacts local and international politics. But over the past couple of years, I have learned that the importance of turning data into information, and discerning/ranking information, extends well beyond institutional politics and affects almost every aspect of our everyday lives, whether our finances, health, nutrition, education or raising of our children. More importantly, the excavation of signal from noise also has a unique, complicated and important relationship with the concept of trust.
How did you get involved?
I have served in defense intelligence and worked as a journalist, focusing particularly on social media intelligence.
What’s the biggest challenge for the issue(s) today?
Sanitation. The world is polluted with junk information. Our biggest challenge now is to create a system that would help us make sense of it all. It is part of a much bigger problem of restoring trust within society. This will require a multifaceted societal effort: algorithms driven by incentives other than the number of clicks/views; educating policy makers about advances in technology; difficult conversations about whether there is such a thing as “over-democratization”(leading to over-information and biased/sensational curation and consumption); and ultimately philosophical questions underpinning it all, such as what, ultimately, constitutes truth.
Who are your most frequent allies? Any surprises?
The growth of bottom-up “truth militias” – individuals who are banding together to hold these aforementioned difficult conversations given the crumbling of trust in institutions, in large part due to a gaping void in institutional efforts for reform in information management.
What drives you?
Curiosity and philosophical questions about what makes certain information important and where truth and democracy are headed in this day and age.
What do you want your career/advocacy to stand for?
Using advanced technologies and analytical tools to make better sense of the world, and help restore trust in our society.