In this post I want to pose and answer two questions: are surveillance capitalists behaviorists? And does it matter? Short answer: surveillance capitalists are not behaviorists, but behavioralists. Behavioralists are okay with guiding individual level behavior as long as it leads to higher-order system behavior that they think is useful; in other words, they have a different theory of freedom than behaviorists. Painting Silicon Valley engineers as behaviorists is no doubt politically useful (on which more below) but will it be persuasive when push comes to shove in the battle to regulate the digital economy? I try to untangle some of these contradictions below.
This is cross-posted from the HIIG Science Blog, and is part of a series on metaphors and digital society hosted by Christian Katzenbach and Stefan Larsson. I recommend the other essays as well: Nik John on sharing, Noam Tirosh on revolution, and Christian Djeffal on artificial intelligence. Sometimes a metaphor settles into everyday use so comfortably, […]
It’s perhaps not surprising that the manifesto published by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday promotes “global community.” The idea that a social media platform like Facebook primarily serves as a community space is consistent with the site’s branding according to techno-utopian versions of a networked society. It also supports the way that Facebook’s […]
Recently Matthias Kirschner, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), has renewed his critique of talking about open source software or open licenses in relation to the encryption software called Qabel. He emphasizes that its Qabel Public License (QaPL) is “neither approved by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as a Free Software license nor […]
We live in a world of bots. Generally speaking, these sets of algorithms are responsible for so much on the backend of the internet, from making Google searches possible to filling up your spam folder. But an emergent kind of bot, capable of interacting with humans and acting on their behalf, is playing a more […]