Algorithmic regulations: Open Data and Code are politics.
Algorithmic Regulation is the worst nightmare for politicians these days. All of our relationships, with other people, environment, the city, enterprises and government are becoming digital.
Policies based on this kind of regulation will be based on controlling the outcomes, not the rules, avoiding situations within which new outcomes will have to be judged through out of date laws. This will imply a radical change in government’s relationships between causes and effects: they will stop fighting the causes, a never-ending expensive war, and start dealing with the government of the effects. This is how Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben defends the current change of the idea of government.
“Smartification” or “Sensorization” is how it is being called nowadays the process through which humans, things and spaces are starting to be completely monitorized by sensors. The role of these processes is fundamental in the concept of Algorithmic Regulation. Google “Smart” plan, for example, is on its way and with and exponential increase of its speed.
So Algorithmic Regulation is definitely going to be real. What would be the dangers of such a change of political policies?
As Evgeny Morozov points out in his article for The Observer this week, Silicon Valley already has an Algorithm Regulation plan. Tim O’Reilly, technology writer and adventurous investor, is its most important defender. For Silicon Valley, though, the reputation-obsessed algorithmic state of the sharing economy is the new welfare state.
Cities are starting to buy solutions to specific problems encouraging companies in focusing their aims in solving specific city issues. Barcelona City Challenge is an example in which 6 different current problems are on the market to be solved for entrepreneurs.
The rise of open data will make data political. That will also happen with algorithms that will increasingly regulate our lives.
On the MIT Technology Review October 2013, Morozov, presented to us Simitis predictions: he knew, even in 1985, that the “algorithmic regulation” that is taking shape today was inevitable, as politics becomes “public administration” that runs on autopilot so that citizens can relax and enjoy themselves, only to be nudged, occasionally, whenever they are about to forget to do any sensor surveyed task.
If you are honest and hardworking, he argues, your online reputation would reflect this, producing a highly personalised social net. As Fred Wilson defends, we will be invited to use self-tracking apps and data-sharing platforms and monitor our vital indicators, symptoms and discrepancies on our own for solving the Healthcare system problem. We will be encouraged to be thin, quit smoking of take more care of ourselves.
The real privacy problem will be based in the reasons why citizens give data. Citizens are not giving data for the city good but for their personal benefit.
Code will be political, algorithms will be policies.