Cory Doctorow provides a commentary on the current state of affairs involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica
. Rather than blame the citizens of the web, he argues that the fault exists with the mechanics in the garage and the corruption that they have engaged with. The question that seems to remain is if this is so and we still want our car fixed, where do we go?
Cambridge Analytica are like stage mentalists: they’re doing something labor-intensive and pretending that it’s something supernatural. A stage mentalist will train for years to learn to quickly memorize a deck of cards and then claim that they can name your card thanks to their psychic powers. You never see the unglamorous, unimpressive memorization practice. source
The comparison between Cambridge Analytica (and big data in general) with the stage mentalist is intriguing. I am left wondering about the disappointment and disbelief in the truth. Sometimes there is a part of us that oddly wants to be mesmerised and to believe.
It’s fashionable to treat the dysfunctions of social media as the result of the naivete of early technologists, who failed to foresee these outcomes. The truth is that the ability to build Facebook-like services is relatively common. What was rare was the moral recklessness necessary to go through with it. source
Facebook and Cambridge Analytica raise the question of just because we can, it doesn’t mean we should.
Facebook doesn’t have a mind-control problem, it has a corruption problem. Cambridge Analytica didn’t convince decent people to become racists; they convinced racists to become voters. source
In relation to the question of mind-control verses corruption, I wonder where the difference exists. Does corruption involve some element of ‘mind-control’ to convince somebody that this is the answer?