Daily Post 1485


Debates is what we have grown up with. It is at the heart of the democratic living. It inculcates in you an attitude of understanding others point of view. Western liberal tradition and democracies are built on it. So are the foundations of the Indian republic. With the onset of news channels and now getting into the immersive phase of technology, debating and now also called talk shows have gone in a different direction. The tone and tenor of public has taken downslide. Patience and perseverance seems to have lost their positive value. It looks like a physical fight without getting physical. The TV channel anchors, from the FOX NEWS to the Indian avatars, have added a fascinating yet dangerous dimension to the age old art and science of debating.

Technology has been the panacea of the masses since times immemorial, from fire and wheel to the advent of Artificial Intelligence. Now that media platforms are the habitat of debates / talk shows, it is there that the battle against insanity has to be fought. This battle has to be made decisive and to help create a new congenial environment, which would in the tune with the democratic traditions. The winds of change seems to have begun. Given the acrimony of the first Presidential debate in the running to the US Presidential Elections 2020, it has been decided that candidate not speaking would have his mike muted. ”When the two face off on Thursday for the final televised debate, each candidate will have their microphones cut off while the other is delivering responses.”

The US democracy has come a long way and so has debating. Debating has to be technologically dictated even at the highest levels in the world and in the most powerful democracy, is a sad commentary on the state of values associated with it. But it is still three cheers to the strength of democratic institutions. Presidential Debate Commission has adopted this rule to mute microphones. If there are other connected changes is not known but certainly it is a cue for changing the nature of debates the world over, more so back home. Muting microphones or other way round bringing the volume to zero at the studio itself has been tried here, however uncivilised it may sound.

It is high time this muting should happen in our debates as well. One at a time is what we have been taught all our life, when it is to be most followed in a debate, it is given a go by. At times there is a pandemonium on the debate. The preferred format is put two panelists on a verbal duel and leave it on the TRP mode. The automated natural language processing system should allow only for the person who is asked to respond and for the time allotted. Even the moderator should be put on the mute mechanism as per a protocol. The timing to be used by the moderator should be technologically controlled. The decibel level should also be controlled and once it crosses the maximum permissible, it should automatically mute the moderator or any panelist. Artificial Intelligence based facial emotions control would mute, when the situation so warrants. A tech enabled civil debate. Slowly, it will become our DNA.


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