Technology is changing culture. Digitization is challenging how we live. These modifications create conveniences and manners of problem-solving that were never possible before. Together with the positives, some challenges have to be overcome.
Here are three trends that are taking us to a phase of culture that is quite different than anything that’s come before.
Increasingly capable systems
We live in a world where non-human systems may do things that only humans could do. Sometimes, these non-human systems may do tasks even better than we can. We’re in a society in which systems can accomplish tasks we did not think would be possible in our time. The capacities of non-human systems will continue to enlarge.
“This line between offline and online, real space and cyberspace is one that is going to become less important and not as significant as time goes on. Systems are getting more capable and more integrated into the world around us,” Susskind explained. It used to be quite simple to differentiate between technology and non-technology. Today and increasingly in the future, technology is going to be dispersed from the world around us objects and artifacts which we never formerly thought of as technology like smart houses with appliances that are smart and in public spaces in smart cities packed with sensors.
Increasingly quantified society
“We generate more information now every couple of hours than we did from the dawn of time to 2003. We leave a path of these things which offers a window to our soul both individually and collectively which dwarfs anything the philosophers or even the kings or the priests of yesteryear could have dreamed of,” Susskind clarified.
We’ve never had to reside alongside such strong non-human systems. We’ve never known what it is like to be surrounded by technology that’s never switched off. We’ve never been in a world in which our lives are ratified to such as extent. In his book, Future Politics, Susskind examines these changes and suggests what we might have to do, theorize, and think about seeing these modifications as a society.
“The electronic is political. Instead of looking at these technologies as customers or capitalists, we will need to look at them as taxpayers. People who control and own the most powerful electronic systems in the future will have a great deal of control over the rest of us,” Susskind forecasts.
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Technologies exert power. They contain rules which the rest of us must follow and those who write the rules increasingly have a degree of power. In our society, there are two big benefactors of technology and that use this power: regulating bodies that may use surveillance and technologies for enforcement of principles and large businesses, particularly technology firms or companies using a lot of techs and are increasingly writing the”rules” we must abide by (believe the 280-character limit on Twitter).
By gathering data about our preferences, browsing history, and much more other people have power over us. In the example of Cambridge Analytica along with the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, the company had a few million data points about 200 million Americans. This enabled them to project an image of a candidate that was tailored to the tastes and prejudices and biases on an individual level.
Also, only knowing that data is being accumulated about us is likely to change our behavior. Many individuals don’t know the level of surveillance that is already happening. As more people become more aware of the fact that we are constantly being watched, Susskind believes people will start changing their behavior. This is a sort of power itself, albeit subtle but important.
We now rely on third parties to tell us what is happening in the world and these third parties are far more often than not mediated by digital technology. As soon as we get our news from a newsfeed we are at the mercy of these technologies who decide which very little slice of fact we’re likely to be introduced. We must acknowledge that those who own and control the technologies that filter our perception of the world are very, very powerful because they shape our innermost feelings and our soul as well as our collective comprehension of what things.
Power cascades onto other simple political concepts like democracy. How we deliberate online changes the democratic process. There are also questions of freedom. What exactly does it mean to live in a world when rules are put often not by states but private companies and often in ways that are not liberty optimizing?
Thinks about justice. What is it going to be like living in a world where your access to important things like jobs, insurance, or credit might be conducive by algorithms which are themselves not necessarily as far as morality or the law would like them to be? As an example, there have been facing recognition systems that don’t see people of color since they were trained on datasets of white people. In the same way, voice recognition systems can struggle to comprehend voices with accents. Previously these kinds of problems were viewed as engineering issues or company problems, however, Susskind sees them as political problems.
Phone for Clarity
While people have the capability to enhance digital hygiene, one individual with their unique actions doesn’t have the power to sway these difficulties. All these are problems that could only be solved through technical means and mechanisms. Susskind believes in the event that you want the rules of the sport to be altered for everybody, then law, laws, and regulation are the only way to do it.
“It’s a call to action at a level which will make some people uncomfortable particularly in the USA because some are skeptical about the state trying to correct issues that are thrown up by personal ordering but I think is essential,” Susskind shared.
Although a few are reticent to trust authorities to establish regulations and boundaries for engineering, Susskind believes we have to have some religion in politics if we’re going to make sure we don’t reside in a universe where we’re not essentially buffeted around by forces that are effectively invisible and outside of our control because they are concentrated in private hands.
Tech companies are led by people having the pursuit of profits as a goal in a democratic society. Even though there is not anything wrong with this, we designed political systems to hold them to account for when they slip up. That’s precisely why the political steps we take are critical in a world changed by technology.
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