Invasion of the black boxes

Hans-Georges Arp painted this image long before Big Data came to invade every human space, private and public.

Now amorphous entities like digital amoebae suck our minds and souls dry of predictive nutrients. Obscenely intimate, these ethereal blobs snuggle up to absorb and commodify the digital detritus of our progress through the age of surveillance capitalism.

If you look hard, you can discern the inputs and outputs, but the algorithmic machinations at the centre of this process are often compared … Read more

Big Data sees all, knows all

Branded. Here’s something I reported on Facebook a couple of days ago. Based on my internet habits and tastes, FB’s algorithms had decided I was an aging proto-hipster who snored. So  I should be a sucker for ‘soft-leather sandals,’ right? Not to mention a mini-CPAP device that would end my snoring forever. 

And what happens, I asked, should I decide to run for PM in Canada? The media, soon in possession of Big Data knowledge products regarding yours truly, would … Read more

Sci-fi becoming history: Is your homebot watching you?

 

Sara’s mopping in another room. Our homebot, a robotic vacuum cleanerhas joined me here in the study. It cruises about, tsk-tsking at piles of notes on the floor, savoring my breakfast crumbs and generally making me uneasy. As I’ve told Sara, this critter appears far too intelligent. Plus I suspect all the homebots in the world are connected via the internet to pursue agendas we can’t even guess at.

 

The World War II expression ‘

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Do goldfish suffer paranoia?

bigdataweb

From the time you get up till the time you go to sleep—even beyond that, if you use a digital sleep tracker—the average twenty-first-century citizen is subject to constant surveillance, caught in a interrogative crossfire, a sticky network fixing your locational, attitudinal and general behavioral spoor 24/7, holding it for the digital spiders that come to collect all this lovely data and cart it off to Big Data centers for digestion and construal in ways that help the spider collective … Read more

Don’t tease the HomeBot

The future has arrived. Have you looked away from the Internet recently, taken a gander out there at what passes for the real world these days? If not, you’d better take a look.

Some oddly premature future has arrived while you were posting cute cats and inspirational quotes on Facebook. What we generally think of as the present has been skewed, bumped off-center and ahead of its time into a sci-fi realm that’s fast becoming commonplace reality (not to mention … Read more

Traitor, hero or some of each?

Government surveillance is a public service; E. Snowden is a self-serving traitor.

vs.

Government surveillance is evil; E. Snowden is a heroic champion of our individual freedoms and dignity.

xkcd atheists & fundmenalistsMaybe we should adopt a perspective superior to either of those.

The truth may well lie somewhere between two poles. At least if you acknowledge that we conduct healthy societies and polities in the tension between ideals of perfect security and perfect freedom, perfect harmony and a Hobbesian state of … Read more