From this week’s reading I was reminded of the movie I Robot. Could it be that Pasquale is Will Smith and data is the hidden danger? Pasquale’s interview about his new book “The Black Box Society” is an eye opening article about bad data, processing data and bad uses of data. The readings also highlighted my lack of knowledge about the inner workings of data and also highlighted that society as a whole is in the dark about data. This is scary considering how much data is created per person per day. Which raises questions how is this data being used for us and / or against us? Considering even the experts say “Google’s search engine, are so complex that nobody understands them.”(UW Students Create Gloves Which Translate Sign Language into Spoken English – Breitbart, 2016) I doubt that I myself will ever come close to understanding the inner workings of data. Also the readings made me consider whether if we really did know what was happening with our data would we still use all of the current devices and programs that we have become so accustomed to in our daily lives?
One thing that I found concerning was that in the 21st century Google is everyone’s number one stop for information, but the information we are receiving could be altered to show us things that Google wants or doesn’t want us to see. This is scary when you start thinking about power house businesses or governments who could sway Google to portray certain aspects of stories or information and hide others. It feels like even when we try to inform ourselves and become more educated we are being mislead. There have also been examples of Facebook running secret psychological experiments on users to see if the changes in algorithms on people’s news feed can change their moods. For example Facebook altered some people’s news feeds to make sure the algorithms only allowed a majority of sad posts this in turn started to change the way user were posting statuses essentially making them become more negative and sad as this was seen through their status updates. (Rushe, 2014)
I think what we are dealing with here is an age-old issue that new technology is always developed by people/organizations with the financial capabilities to do so thus they use it in a way to reap finacial benefits for themselves. What should happen is we should all be honest people who use technology in a moral sense that is we don’t use it to profit off the loss of other people. But that deals with the bigger issue that money makes the world go around. On a lighter final note I found this video to better understand some of the risks behind mishandled use of data.
Bogost, Ian (2015) ‘The Cathedral of Computation: We’re not living in an algorithmic culture so much as a computational theocracy’, The Atlantic, <http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/the-cathedral-of-computation/384300/>.
Mackenzie, Donald (2014) ‘Be grateful for drizzle: Donald MacKenzie on high-frequency trading’, London Review of Books, September 11, <http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n17/donald-mackenzie/be-grateful-for-drizzle>
Pasquale, Frank (2016) ‘Bittersweet Mysteries of Machine Learning (A Provocation)’, LSE, February 5, <http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject/2016/02/05/bittersweet-mysteries-of-machine-learning-a-provocation/>
Rushe, D., 2014. Facebook sorry – almost – for secret psychological experiment on users. [online] the Guardian. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/02/facebook-sorry-secret-psychological-experiment-users> [Accessed 30 Apr. 2016].
Selinger, Evan (2015) ’Frank Pasquale unravels the new machine age of algorithms and bots’, IEET.com, February 1, <http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/ selinger20150201#When:03:48:00Z>