Psycho-Pass, a futuristic society where people’s intent to commit crime is ‘read’ through the Sybil System – marketed as a benevolent AI overlord. Those whose ‘hue’ is within acceptable range are allowed to act as everyday citizens. However, if a person’s hue ‘clouds’ they are forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation, and if the situation continues to worsen, they are locked up – potentially for life. In this system, it is not people’s actions that are measured, but their potential to act.
Take out all the best parts of a democracy, package it up so it looks pretty on the outside, and completely control the people under your reign. Now, this seems like a caricature of society at best but, when you consider the wider implications, it becomes all too real.
One only has to look to China, where they plan to roll out the Social Credit System in the next year.
Big data also needs to be examined as a political process involving questions of power, transparency and surveillance. Tufekci (2014), defines computational politics as “applying computational methods to large data sets… for conducting outreach, persuasion and mobilization,” she then goes on to comment on the ability of such processes to develop individualised methods of persuasion. Basically, with new computer technologies, governments (such as China’s) have the ability to profile a person, extracting the best ways to manipulate and persuade them into behavioural patterns they deem as acceptable.
To many, this seems like a far-off issue, something for future generations to consider, but with the raise of the internet, this technology is becoming all-too common.
References: Tufekci, Z., 2014. Engineering the public: Big data, surveillance and computational politics. First Monday, [online] 19(7). Available at: <https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4901/4097> [Accessed 29 May 2020].