Uncanny valley of the web

The technology sector is in a maelstrom.

Strange Magicks

Cambridge Analytica

Whilst Cambridge Analytica surprised most people in digital marketing who get the technology. The claims surprised for three main reasons:

  • Facebook’s scope of data access wasn’t surprising to marketers, but the level of shock the media felt was seismic
  • Cambridge Analytica was considered to have some mythical secret sauce by the media. Those marketers close to the political scene were surprised. How was Cambridge Analytica thought effective?
  • The media have avoided discussing the advertising technology that underpins modern online media. This creates richer data profiles and improves media targeting. Unfortunately this technology runs on their website, analysing their traffic, vending their advertising
‘Supernatural’ technology

I caught up with a friend who had recently upgraded the operating system on their Mac laptop and iPhone. They made a restaurant booking and were surprised when the web site ‘knew who they were’. and automatically completed their information. Then, on the day of the booking a notification popped up. It said that they should leave now as there was moderate traffic.

They ascribed all this magic to the the website ‘knowing’ everything about them. I explained to them that this was their Apple products trying to be helpful rather than dialing their anxiety levels to 11.

People are powerless

There is an assumption amongst the general public that technology has supernatural powers.

It makes them uncomfortable, but they feel powerless in the face of it. This discomfort reminded me of the ‘uncanny valley’ experienced with humanoid robots. For the rest of consumer there is latent inertia. They will generally put up with a lot of discomfort.

They realise at a base level that The Technium is – . They don’t realise how they should adapt to it.

The technium is a superorganism of technology. It has its own force that it exerts. That force is part cultural (influenced by and influencing of humans), but it’s also partly non-human, partly indigenous to the physics of technology itself.

It’s just the way things are. Consumer actions won’t make a difference. #deletefacebook will barely make a dent and that’s what’s scariest of all.

More information

The Technium and the 7th kingdom of life | Edge.org

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