Wake up!

…Before big tech companies are taking over

Decisions made by humans can easily be biased. Algorithms are thought to be the solution, as computers can’t make mistakes. But is there an emergency brake, is there sufficient knowledge in advance about what information has been entered into the system? Have we become to rely on software made by commercially driven big tech companies too much?

In an interview published in Trouw, Maarten Koningsveld warns us that we have indeed become completely dependent on tech companies, both in boardrooms and in schools. Corona has accelerated that process: we thankfully use technologies to communicate online, but by doing so, we might be relinquishing control. Where our government rules the offline world, big tech companies rule our online world: Facebook and Instagram decide who’s account gets deleted and why. However, big tech companies are not government, but commercially driven. Yet they are now setting the rules.

Ultimately, it’s about our privacy, and who has what to say about our own data. According to Koningsveld, this issue should be covered and discussed by politicians instead of tech companies or other countries. Politicians in the Netherlands slowly begin to realize that they as a government know very little about the consequences of the latest technological developments. As discussed in an earlier On Topic article, the House of Representatives recently created a committee concerned with digital affairs and now there is talk of a minister for digital developments as well. But will this be enough? According to Koningsveld, the knowledge gap is so great that politicians are unable to draw up rules that fit in a modern digital constitutional state. If this is the case, how do we take back the control over our data? IMPAKT’s webproject We Are Data is concerned with the complexities of data and technology as well, and how to deal with them. As part of We Are Data, Evgeny Morozov will have a talk and Q&A on digital agency in more depth. In addition, IMPAKT’s project CODE NL-D is concerned with privacy and the crisis of democracy due to rapid digital developments as well. The project brings together artists, non-artists, politicians and policy makers from Germany and the Netherlands to engage in a critical discussion and an artistic intervention on the digital future and digital policies.


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