Blue Sky Mine: Algorithms-R-Us

2014/05/25 § Leave a comment

While writing Bombastic Distributor, about how simply searching the web is a now a form of publishing, out came a couple of news stories which underlined and re-fram this claim.

A ruling forcing Google to remove search results has been described as “astonishing” by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. The European Courts of Justice ruled on Tuesday that an individual could demand that “irrelevant or outdated” information be deleted from results. Mr Wales said it was “one of the most wide-sweeping internet censorship rulings that I’ve ever seen”.

Notice that it is the engine providing search results not the old webpages which hold the outdated and irrelevant information which is held responsible.

“If you really dig into it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. They’re asking Google… you can complain about something and just say it’s irrelevant, and Google has to make some kind of a determination about that.  That’s a very hard and difficult thing for Google to do – particularly if it’s at risk of being held legally liable if it gets it wrong in some way. Normally we would think whoever is publishing the information, they have the primary responsibility – Google just helps us to find the things that are online.”

This makes sense as an old world argument, except I’d argue that the search returns as much a form of publishing as the original webpage makers are (and even any web-search itself).

The medium became the message a while ago, but now everything is publishing. The product is the advert, the reference is the real, the search for data is the information, if not the wisdom.

The other story is more about where everything, the internet of everything, is heading. The web search is a form of publishing because it is all part of a secret herbs and spices recipes of algorithms and past results which have an economic impact. This impact is at a base level of economic activity, and it already structures our lives. The other story is about a set of algorithms in corporate governance.

A venture capital firm has appointed a computer algorithm to its board of directors. The program – called Vital – will vote on whether to invest in a specific company or not. The firm it will be working for – Deep Knowledge Ventures – focuses on drugs for age-related diseases. It said that Vital would make its recommendations by sifting through large amounts of data.

If we can get rid of humans from corporate boards, then we will soon be able to get completely rid of managers, particularly if roboticised labour has already got rid of jobs generally. I.E. if there are no workers, there is no need for managers. If there are no managers there is no need for human governance at all. This venture capital firm is showing the way by putting an algorithm on it’s board. They probably think it is just a marketing lark but really it is very good news.

The end result will be that there will be no difference between the dividend and the dole. No difference between tax and rent.

What were once different can no longer be differentiated, no doubt libertarians will still wank on about their property fetish, no doubt socialists will want to defend workers rights even though no one works, or even consumes, one merely desires this or that, and no doubt the religious will still pray for the poor in spirit that are always with us… but all this is good news.

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