#Censorship Corporate Media Interesting Observations

Big Data Leads To Social Cooling


If you feel you are being watched, you change your behavior. Big Data is supercharging this effect.

This could limit your desire to take risks or exercise free speech and over the long term, these ‘chilling effects’ could ‘cool down’ society.

This is how it works: Your data is turned into thousands of different scores and there are stars behind the cloud. People are starting to realize that this ‘digital reputation’ could limit their opportunities as these algorithms are often biased, and built on bad data.

People are changing their behavior to get better scores, which can have good and bad sides.

Social Cooling is a name for the long-term negative side effects of living in a reputation economy:

1. A Culture of Conformity

Have you ever hesitated to click on a link because you thought your visit might be logged, and it could look bad?

More and more people feel this pressure, and they are starting to apply self-censorship.

2. A Culture of Risk-Aversion

When doctors in New York were given scores this had unexpected results. Doctors that tried to help advanced cancer patients had a higher mortality rate, which translated into a lower score. Doctors that didn’t try to help were rewarded with high scores, even though their patients died prematurely. Rating systems can create unwanted incentives, and increase pressure to conform to a bureaucratic average.

3. Increased Social Rigidity

Digital reputation systems are limiting our ability and our will to protest injustice.

In China, each adult citizen is getting a government-mandated “social credit score“. This represents how well behaved they are, and is based on crime records, what they say on social media, what they buy, and even the scores of their friends.

If you have a low score you can’t get a government job, visa, cheap loan, or even a nice online date.

Social pressure is the most powerful and most subtle form of control.

As our weaknesses are mapped. We are becoming too transparent.

This is breeding a society where self-censorship and risk-aversion are the new normal.

Of course, we’ve had credit ratings before, but this is on a whole new scale, with an incredible level of automation, integration, and accessibility.

The Big Philosophical Question: Are we becoming more well behaved, but less human and what does it mean to be free in a world where surveillance is the dominant business model?

The Big Economic Question: Are we undermining our creative economy? Because in a creative economy the people who dare to be different are our greatest resource.

The Big Societal Question: Will this impact our ability to evolve as a society? Yesterday’s fight for equality by a minority is today’s widely accepted norm. But will minority views still flourish?

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