“The tendency towards psychological collectivism does not have man’s welfare as its end. It is designed for his exploitation.” – Jacques Ellul
As you surely know by now, your online behavior, from banking to shopping, to searching for anything including health and financial information, even your cell phone usage is, “…fed into databases and assembled into profiles of unprecedented depth and specificity.” [Pasquale]
This information is then sold to companies you know nothing about and used to market to you, to evaluate your potential to get a job, a mortgage, a loan, a rental, and many other dreams you may have that could be denied to you because of collected data you know nothing about.
There is no such thing as a ‘free’ App — all Apps are Trojan Horses. We now live in the Internet, the algo-matrix… like it or not, and the tyranny of massive data collection is upon us.
Now is the time for us to rethink our euphoria with technology.
As law professor and author Frank Pasquale notes, Silicon Valley’s top managers are not great sages to be trusted— in fact, they “hide behind corporate operations so covert that their actual contributions are hard to assess… why all the secrecy?” His book, The Black Box Society, The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information, asks why secrecy is so important in the ‘black box’ takeover of society.
Perhaps the most egregious example of this is in the area of finance. Algorithms have expanded exponentially into every aspect of banking, bonds and stock markets, with ever increasing mazes of derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, CDO’s, now in the trillions of dollars. Humans no longer trade in global markets, as algorithms move stocks, commodities, and currencies around the planet in seconds. HFT, high frequency trading, is a ubiquitous form of high-tech front-running. Actual people don’t stand a chance.
A ‘flash-crash’ can take markets down a thousand points in a few seconds. Bots, mysteriously called ‘dark pools,’ are “artificially intelligent systems that execute trades in milliseconds and use the cover of darkness to outmaneuver their creators, ultimately hijacking the global markets from human control and pushing the entire system toward a global meltdown that could happen in seconds.” [S. Patterson]
The Greed Algorithm
The algorithms are constantly being refined and expanded to further invade every aspect of our lives, therefore, there can be no ‘transparency,’ as regulators struggle to even understand an ever-changing field created by minds digitally oriented and advanced far-beyond most. The private companies and corporations pay these digital geniuses far more money than possible for the government agencies that are supposed to protect the public, luring the best minds away from the regulatory sector with hugely obscene salaries.
The innovators run the game and everyone else, including regulators, are clueless, in the dark, and vulnerable. As Pasquale says, “Secret algorithms — obscured by a triple layer of technical complexity, secrecy, and ‘economic espionage’ laws that can land would-be whistle-blowers in prison — still prevent us from understanding what is truly going on in many major financial firms.”