But we shouldnt accept Facebooks self-conception as sincere, either. Facebook is a carefully managed top-down system, not a robust public square.
All the values that Silicon Valley professes are the values of the 60s. The big tech companies present themselves as platforms for personal liberation.
While it creates the impression that it offers choice, in truth Facebook paternalistically nudges users in the direction it deems best for them, which also happens to be the direction that gets them thoroughly addicted.
The hackers archenemies were the bureaucrats who ran universities, corporations and governments. Bureaucrats talked about making the world more efficient, just like the hackers.
Though Facebook will occasionally talk about the transparency of governments and corporations, what it really wants to advance is the transparency of individuals or what it has called, at various moments, radical transparency or ultimate transparency.
With the looming threat that our embarrassing information will be broadcast, well behave better.
Americans of all persuasions began yearning for the salvific ascendance of the most famous engineer of his time: Herbert Hoover.
This dream has captivated intellectuals ever since, especially Americans. The great sociologist Thorstein Veblen was obsessed with installing engineers in power and, in 1921, wrote a book making his case. His vision briefly became a reality.
The Hoover experiment, in the end, hardly realised the happy fantasies about the Engineer King. A very different version of this dream, however, has come to fruition, in the form of the CEOs of the big tech companies.
The algorithm may be the essence of computer science but its not precisely a scientific concept. An algorithm is a system, like plumbing or a military chain of command. It takes knowhow, calculation and creativity to make a system work properly. But some systems, like some armies, are much more reliable than others. A system is a human artefact, not a mathematical truism.
Algorithms are, by definition, invisibilia. But we can usually sense their presence that somewhere in the distance, were interacting with a machine.
Thats what makes Facebooks algorithm so powerful. Many users 60%, according to the best research are completely unaware of its existence. But even if they know of its influence, it wouldnt really matter.
The engineering mindset has little patience for the fetishisation of words and images, for the mystique of art, for moral complexity or emotional expression. It views humans as data, components of systems, abstractions.
Facebook would never put it this way, but algorithms are meant to erode free will, to relieve humans of the burden of choosing, to nudge them in the right direction.
Thats why Facebook has so few qualms about performing rampant experiments on its users. The whole effort is to make human beings predictable to anticipate their behaviour, which makes them easier to manipulate.
讀完：September 26, 2017 at 01:53AM｜來源：URL