Truth from the perspective of reality: When a quotations researcher and a computer science philosopher meet a psychotherapist and a politician, different definitions of terms naturally arise. The panel at the presentation of the 2024 Tolerance Talks on Thursday evening in Vienna agreed on one thing. The digitalization and the associated algorithmization of all processes is increasingly becoming a problem, if not even causing us to lose track.

Quotation researcher Gerald Krieghofer used numerous well-known quotations to show that the attribution to their author is very often incorrect and therefore represents an untruth that needs to be uncovered. There are really bad quotes, also spread in the major media, which are not only misattributed or misrepresented, but are therefore hostile, racist or anti-Semitic. The alleged Anselm Rothschild quote: “Let me control the currency, then I don’t care who makes the laws” is definitely made up.

The computer scientist and philosopher Peter Reichl, author of the new bestseller “Homo Cyber”, warned against taking ChatGPT or similar digitization machines at their word. These knowledge machines are not new authorities and do not deliver any truth(s), but simply throw together words and sentences that they have previously been fed. However, as a computer scientist, he sees that our increasingly complex IT systems are becoming increasingly uncontrollable and therefore pose a danger to all of humanity.

Truth falls by the wayside

NEOS MP Stephanie Krisper complained about politicians’ sloppy handling of statistics, data and facts, but at the same time pointed out that there were efforts at national and European level to prevent the misuse of algorithms, digital systems and social media by extreme, radical and anti-democratic groups to prevent forces. However, confusion and fear arise in the social public because emotions and needs have more weight in the discourse than rational knowledge.

The fact that the truth is often and remains wishful thinking was emphasized by Tolerance Talks Board of Trustees President Hannes Swoboda, who sat in the European Parliament for many years as the leader of the Social Democrats’ list. People outside do not vote based on rational arguments and actual performance and results, but rather those parties and politicians who best address and emotionally appeal to their personal environment, their current sensitivities, needs and mood.

Voters want to be noticed

This was also confirmed by the psychotherapist and psychologist Margarethe Prinz-Büchl. She pointed out that truth is always linked to perception, which comes from a very personal need. The better politicians can understand the personal needs of individual people and convey to them that they see and understand them, the more likely they are to be elected. The question of what benefits voters have if they vote for extreme parties can be easily answered. They are noticed.

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