The differences between the brick-and-mortar poorhouse of yesterday and the digital one of today are significant. Containment in a physical institution had the unintended result of creating class solidarity across the lines of race, gender, and national origin. If we sit at a common table to eat the same gruel, we might see similarities in our experiences. But now surveillance and digital social sorting are driving us apart, targeting smaller and smaller microgroups for different kinds of aggression and control. In an invisible poorhouse, we become ever more cut off from the people around us, even if they share our suffering.
The digital poorhouse has a much lower barrier to expansion. Automated decision-making systems, matching algorithms, and predictive risk models have the potential to spread quickly.
In conclusion, Eubanks suggests that we need to work together to build a solution:
If there is to be an alternative, we must build it purposefully, brick by brick and byte by byte.
This reminds me of the point Brent Simmons made in regards to Micro.blogs:
We’re discovering the future as we build it.