Tag Archives: big data Blog

The Religion of Tech

This is an article that takes us briefly outside the matrix of modern technology. As cool, useful and exciting as today’s tech can be, the ideology behind it is, in this author’s view, founded on a body of beliefs that users readily accept, but that serve creators and purveyors far more than the consumers who pay for products they don’t truly own, and give away personal information over which they no longer have control.

The greatest of the United States’ homegrown religions – greater than Jehovah’s Witnesses, greater than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, greater even than Scientology – is the religion of technology … By spreading a utopian view of technology, a view that defines progress as essentially technological, they’ve encouraged people to switch off their critical faculties and give Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and financiers free rein in remaking culture to fit their commercial interests.

For many, especially younger consumers, notions of privacy and surveillance are not of concern at all. For others, this is the dawn of the ‘Big Brother’ society, which gives unprecedented power to elites in government and commerce. If the latter is the case, how then can a society founded on principles of individual freedom and liberty be led down such a path so easily?

John Kenneth Galbraith coined the term ‘innocent fraud’. He used it to describe a lie or a half-truth that, because it suits the needs or views of those in power, is presented as fact. After much repetition, the fiction becomes common wisdom. ‘It is innocent because most who employ it are without conscious guilt,’ Galbraith wrote in 1999. ‘It is fraud because it is quietly in the service of special interest.’ The idea of the computer network as an engine of liberation is an innocent fraud.

It might be a good time to take our eyes off of our screens for a moment to consider how far technology has come so quickly, and where it might be headed. As we become more dependent on our devices and connections, and as the entities that provide and manage them become more consolidated and enriched, is unquestioning faith still justified?

Read full article: http://bit.ly/2cdWNN4

What’s Up With LinkNYC and Privacy?

The LinkNYC project, powered by Google, is bringing internet access throughout the five boroughs — along with a host of privacy concerns as the city sells its citizens’ locations, movements and various other data to third parties.

Targeted advertising of the sort that underwrites LinkNYC isn’t about getting consumers information about goods and services they want, says Rushkoff, the media theorist. Rather, data collection is about producing profiles of consumers likely to engage in a particular form of consumer behavior, and then bombarding them with ads or search results or tailored Facebook feeds to tip them over into that behavior. “They are working hard to get you to behave true to your statistical profile,” Rushkoff says, “and in doing so they reduce your spontaneity, your anomalous behavior, your human agency, as they try to get you to conform to the most marketable probable outcome.

Find out what’s going on behind the scenes with these cool, street-side kiosks in this eye-opening article: http://bit.ly/29wt40n

The Power of Big Data

Tech companies are just scratching the surface of what they can do with Big Data. An enlightening article describes some of the power that comes with recording the daily lives and activities of hundreds of millions of people. In a 2012 experiment Facebook learned how it could alter the moods of users. Google routinely runs about 20,000 experiments per year involving users. Facebook even learned that it could motivate people to get out and vote — not inconsequential given that it can filter out individuals’ political persuasion. That experiment involved over 60 million people! Where else but online can a sample size that large be assembled, without their even knowing it …

Facebook and much of the rest of the web are thriving petri dishes of social contact, and many social science researchers believe that by analyzing our behavior online, they may be able to figure out why and how ideas spread through groups, how we form our political views and what persuades us to act on them, and even why and how people fall in love.

It’s likely researchers would like to figure out a whole lot more, given the magnitude of data available. Makes one wonder what interesting things they’re doing that are not being disclosed.

Read full article: http://nyti.ms/1z86m1O