Information technology and the internet are changing the way democracy works. Recent revelations of the use of personal data to manipulate elections tell us that we live in a very different place we thought we did just weeks ago. Marketing companies, like the now infamous Cambridge Analytica, may deploy data profiling to influence human targets on social media. This involves the enveloping of the subjects within an artificial world; Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower at the center of this scandal, referred to these worlds as “cultures.” In each of these artificial cultures, political candidates would appear to each target from a different aspect, but always as a perfect candidate tailored to the psychographic profile of that particular voter. This approach, Cambridge Analytica claims, would increment the candidate’s electoral margins. There is currently no information if the use of personal data had a deciding effect on the US presidential elections. However, the process is revealing of the power online companies hold today to, in principle, manipulate its customers.
Technology envelops the modern citizen, as the online space invades everyday living and most of one’s material existence. Even the very notion of self is drastically changing. Being cognitively stimulating, this virtual reality absorbs time, energy and capital. Mankind transformed the internet into a concrete repository for what the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper called “world 3” patrimony — the products of the human mind, such as stories, theories, songs and languages.
The internet now stores a huge chunk of human knowledge and this repository is getting bigger everyday. Some even claim that humans, in a few years, will quickly build a new form of civilization, in which Artificial Intelligence (AI), supported by the all the knowledge available online, will quickly surpass individual human intelligence. The change has been so fast and furious that very few would dare to predict its consequences and implications, even in the short term.
Full Article: Ethical Challenges of the Tech Revolution.