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Vision and Mission

The problem with living in the era of generative artificial intelligence is not that many texts, sounds, photos and videos are fake, but that we stop trusting real texts, sounds, photos and videos.”

– Farhad Manjoo 

The paradox of tolerance: „Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.“

– Karl R. Popper 

Not succumbing to delusion requires detachment, openness, honesty and courage. In line with Popper’s vision of an open society, these are attributes that are integral to the principles of the international multidisciplinary consortium Central European Digital Media Observatory (CEDMO), which was established on 1st October 2021 as an independent, non-partisan and multidisciplinary centre. 

CEDMO deals with the processes and impacts of digital transformation, including the emergence of generative artificial intelligence, in Central Europe. It brings together experienced fact-checkers, social science and technology researchers, investigative journalists verifying information using publicly available sources, and media and media literacy experts with the common goal of analysing and understanding the impact of the digital transformation on society, in collaboration with media organisations, community representatives and representatives of the private and public sectors.

Our activities include identifying, investigating and prioritizing the main sources and causes of adverse information phenomena and disruptions in Central Europe (especially in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland) in order to propose short and long-term measures and recommendations that will enable civil society, public institutions and the private sector to respond to the declining trust in key institutions and that will at the same time help society to resist the increasing impact of false and distorted information. 

We seek to understand and then communicate to a wider public the insights of life in a post-factual society that has gone through several crises in recent years – from health (the COVID-19 pandemic), to energy, set against the backdrop of the Russian-led war in Ukraine, to media, by which we mean the ongoing collapse of the economic models of serious news media. 

All these sub-crises are milestones in the general crisis of classical representative democracy in the age of digital culture. It should not be underestimated that the perceived erosion of democratic institutions is largely due to technological transformation and is taking place against the backdrop of the search for new ways of social life. The rise of an intolerant Central European neo-nationalist populism – largely reacting to the processes of Euro-Atlantic integration and demanding a revision of political orientation and values – is all the more noticeable given the growing importance of online social networks. They have transformed user behaviour with the help of algorithmic recommendation systems; they have achieved a spillover of news from traditional news channels; they have enabled a dramatic increase in the speed of information dissemination (including misinformation and disinformation), its volume and the polarised enclosure of users in opinion-filtered consensus bubbles and chambers where these opinions are further consolidated; revolutionising the conduct of political campaigns, from the deployment of automated political bots to new ways of conducting online campaigns; and last but not least, contributing to a decline in social cohesion. 

We work and coordinate with the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) and its regional centres across the EU to jointly minimise the impact of adverse information phenomena such as disillusionment with democratic processes or the decline of civil society, and to strengthen resilience at the level of communities, states and information ecosystems. Given the cross-border nature of these phenomena and the difficulty of predicting their content and dissemination techniques, it is crucial that we respond in a coordinated, sophisticated and determined manner.

“Urban legends as a precursor to rumours spread in mass-forwarded emails, referred to as chain emails. Generative artificial intelligence tools, led by ChatGPT, as a digital imprint of one of the most famous Prague legends about the Golem. A scroll bringing the Golem to life as a prefigurement of the world view and distortions embedded in AI training data. Yes, the artificial intelligence that churns out deceptive videos known as deepfakes with an ease all its own. The old mixes with the new, the analogue with the digital, life in the lie with life in the truth. Watching the transformation of the digital media ecosystem is fascinating. It teaches us that what appears new (and is often fashionable) only appears so.”  

– Václav Moravec 

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