Session
Fahrplan 34C3
Ethics, Society & Politics

Social Cooling - big data’s unintended side effect

How the reputation economy is creating data-driven conformity
Saal Dijkstra
Tijmen Schep
What does it mean to be free in a world where surveillance is the dominant business model? Behind the scenes databrokers are turning our data into thousands of scores. This digital reputation is increasingly influencing our chances to find a job, a loan or even a date. Researchers are pointing out that, as people become aware of this reputation economy, it is generating a culture where self-censorship and risk aversion are the new normal.

How do we deal with these chilling effects? I suggest we take the comparison of oil and data all the way: If oil leads to global warming, then data leads to Social Cooling.

Social Cooling is an accessible narrative about the large scale chilling effects are starting to become visible, and whose effects countries like China are actively embracing. Here in the west studies show a rise in self-censorship and a growing culture of risk-aversion. For example, after the Snowden revelations fewer people visit Wikipedia pages about subjects like terrorism. We see doctors hesitating to operate on patients because a death will lower their score.

This comparison is not meant to scare, but to give us hope: our move away from oil offers us a valuable blueprint on how to deal with this issue. In this talk we’ll go into the narratives we need. In a data-driven world, a good story can still be the best hack.

Additional information

Type lecture
Language English

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