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How i learned to stop worrying and love big data machines


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Presentation delivered to CorkCon 2016, an IBM Internal Conference on Ideas and Creativity. This presentation summarises my research on politics and big data, on technology and the state, and on the automation of government. Is it technics out of control? Or are we on the threshold of a great new age?

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How i learned to stop worrying and love big data machines

  1. 1. CorkCon 2016 Anthony Behan
  2. 2. This started with a question: How does big data change the state? Which became How does technology change politics?
  3. 3. ‘Newsreaders still feel it is worth a special and rather worrying mention if, for instance, a crime was planned by people ‘over the Internet.’ They don’t bother to mention when criminals use the telephone or the M4, or discuss their dastardly plans ‘over a cup of tea,’ though each of these was new and controversial in their day.’ Douglas Adams
  4. 4. Communication is a form of life. Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein 26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951 1953 Ergo…Technology is a form of life.
  5. 5. Cyborgs are enhanced humans Birds have nests, spiders have webs, and we have our technology. (What does it mean to be human? To be whole?)
  6. 6. Machines are like humans, but in some respects better Does it matter that those with whom we interact are actually human?
  7. 7. Technology has changed people. Personal Communications and Interactions have Changed. The way we speak to each other, communicate with one another, buy and exchange stuff, express ourselves – all that has changed now.
  8. 8. Marshall McLuhan, July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980 The medium is the message 1964 "we live mythically and integrally ... but continue to think in the old, fragmented space and time patterns of the pre-electric age."
  9. 9. Loyalty to family, community, nation, geography - dissipates Emotional, Personal Connections and Communities are Distributed, Decentralised, Global.
  10. 10. Politics Changes. Politics is about power, and communications, and relationships, and social infrastructure. If communications changes, politics must change. Right?
  11. 11. Politics, and the State, is Broken. These people are not us. The State is not us. The State is illegitimate.
  12. 12. So, here’s a thought. Why don’t the machines run the government? We’d trust them more than we do people, right?
  13. 13. What scares you most? The nuclear bomb? Or the guy riding the nuclear bomb?
  14. 14. Can machines – artefacts – have a politics?
  15. 15. Long Island Parkway. Low Overpass. Truck Smashes into it. Why?
  16. 16. There may be an answer in Big Data Machines Monitor everything, understand everyone’s behaviour, everywhere. People, and the internet of things Using that data, create, adapt, and infer laws that it is likely people will accept. People, and the internet of things Monitor everything, understand everyone’s behaviour, everywhere. Measure / Judge them. Enforce the law.
  17. 17. So let’s ask the question about speed cameras. Traffic monitoring. Mass surveillance. Why don’t we do it everywhere? All the time? What are we afraid of?
  18. 18. The Politics of Automation: Big Data Machines and the Prosecution of State Bureaucracy An assessment of automated law enforcement in Ireland, and the barriers to extended automation Anthony Behan October 2016 MSc by Research Department of Government National University of Ireland, Cork
  19. 19. Thank You!