The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that Facebook user information was used to build psychological and political profiles and target messages to Brexit and U.S voters. The connection between algorithmic transparency and the future of democracy is more relevant than ever.
Of course, information manipulation is nothing new. Propaganda has shaped international opinion and disrupted narratives during the Cold War, World War I and II. In recent years, non-linear warfare and techniques of confusion and misinformation have been used for political and economic gains by “democracies” across the world. Power has long been held by those who control information and communication networks. But with new technologies, new problems emerge.
Today, a new elite have unprecedented digital access to personal information and attention. This vectoral class controls the tools of software and machine learning, and the channels of dissemination which influence what we think and believe. Fake news has left us unsure whether we can believe what we read online. But the digital manipulation of video, which is nearly upon us, means that soon we won’t be able to believe what we see online, either. All of this can be used by those in power to confuse and control. Where does power (information) lie, and how does this affect, what we might consider our citizenship, our democracy?
Superflux is holding a discussion to collaboratively explore how we might rise to new challenges to freedom and democracy as we know it. We invite you to submit an application to participate in this event using the link below. We intend to create a space for fair and engaged participation with a small group of around 30 people, so applications will be selected using the principle of sortition. Sortition is a form of random selection used in Ancient Greek democracy for populating assemblies with a representative sample of people, to help make decisions which are informed, fair and deliberate. Guest experts will be on hand to contribute knowledge and advice, but won’t be involved in decision making.
Everyone is invited to apply and applications from people of all ages; non-binary individuals; women; BAME individuals; and those who consider themselves disabled are specifically encouraged to ensure fair representation. We hope to actively represent a microcosm of society so this event is as representative as possible. As applications are selected based on random selection, not everyone who applies will be able to attend the event, but we hope to accommodate as many people as possible.
Please send us 50-100 words telling us about yourself, and why you would like to come along to explore the future of algorithmic power. Applications will need to include some personal demographic information, which will be kept strictly confidential and in line with the May 2018 General Data Protection Regulations.
GUEST EXPERTS TBA