#algorithmicEvil - Why social mediation is a really bad practice

An article about the Moto X spawned varied discussions about tracking and privacy. It also got me thinking about the broader implications of the underlying social mediation mechanism that is all but invisible and missing from these discussions.

First off, I absolutely share the concern of those who believe that pervasive tracking is a serious issue. But my concern is not borne out of having anything to hide. Like most, I'm too uninteresting for anyone to want to track my online or offline whereabouts. For me the issue is not one of privacy, but one of identity and personal sovereignty. Do you believe there are limits to what Google, Facebook and others will do with all of this hyper-personal information that they will collect about us?

Right now, there are no limits because this space is completely unregulated. You may not mind Google making recommendations to you based on this tracking. But are you ok with them creating predictive models of your behavior and selling those models to banks, employers and anyone else who might have an interest is guessing how you might behave under x, y, or z scenario?

I for one believe that humans are too complex for such models to be accurate, but they give the appearance of being more sophisticated than current models like FICO scores, so someone will pay for them and use them as if they were the truth about you.

What about websites using them to alter what you see when visiting based on some algorithmic conclusion that you would rather see A vs. B?

Welcome to the downward spiral of a world of hyper-individualized online experiences vs. shared experiences, and a world where your ability to choose your own path and think for yourself will be severely marginalized.

That is the world we are complicit in building by blindly accepting the social mediation and the "sleeves out of my vest" conveniences of companies whose existence is tied to exploiting your identity.

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