A 'coup des gens' is underway – and we're increasingly living under the regime of the algorithm

phys.org | 3/25/2019 | Staff
AavyAavy (Posted by) Level 4
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I recently attended a large meeting of faculty to discuss graduate students' evaluation, recruitment and retention.

"Let the data drive your goals," one of the speakers repeated, mantra-like – with genuine enthusiasm and conviction – and I couldn't help but wince.

Symptomatic - Psychologist - Shoshana - Zuboff - Coup

The slogan struck me as symptomatic of what social psychologist Shoshana Zuboff has dubbed a "coup des gens."

If a coup d'état denotes the illegal replacement of one political system by another, a coup des gens – "gens" meaning "people" in French – is characterized by the forced replacement of human beings by abstract information systems.

Book - Terminal - Self - Computer - Technology

In my recent book, "The Terminal Self," I show how we are increasingly coerced to interact with computer technology in all aspects of our daily lives. Among many other effects, this coerced interaction forces us to sync our cognitive functions to the logic of the computer and feed it endless streams of data, rendering us ripe for constant surveillance and exploitation.

Managing the flows of 'the new oil'

Data - Companies - Rank - Select - Customers

Data is now used by companies to help them evaluate, rank, select or dismiss potential customers. It can be used to measure medical risk, credit-worthiness, psychological health, job performance, spending habits, food preferences, moods, dating preferences and political views.

As European Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva put it, "personal data is the new oil of the internet and the new currency of the digital world."

Value - Data - Sociologist - Paul - Virilio

The high value placed on data has ushered in what French sociologist Paul Virilio calls an "informational fundamentalism" – an ideology that exalts digital information as the ultimate good and supreme power to which all must surrender their will, time and common sense.

In order to function efficiently, most institutions must intelligently manage these swelling flows of data. However, the technological capacity to manage vast quantities of data doesn't necessarily lead to intelligent analysis.

Notes - Media - Studies

On the contrary, notes media studies scholar...
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