the moral obligation to be data literate

dispatches from an age of deep fakes & chaotically creative destruction

As data has grown more than our ability to process it, more & more of us are feeling pressed for time.

Millions of dollars change hands every year for time-saving hacks, apps, books, seminars…

Technology promised to make us more productive & save us time.

But often it feels as if its salesmen failed to account for the white digital noise that would spill as pollution into our every daily lives, requiring more & more time to clean up the mess.

the impeding age of deep fakes & widespread creative destruction

Soon, our social media feeds will be cluttered with waves of sophisticated, high quality, highly personalized, blatantly dishonest marketing.

Simultaneously, more & more jobs will be made redundant with smarter software offering more & more conveniences & efficiencies.

Simultaneously, intelligent machines may soon cure cancer.

There are discussions of universal basic income amid rising sales of apocalypse bunkers for the ultra rich.

We find ourselves unable to communicate about shared futures because of radically different pasts

There is talk about paying users for their data amid discussions about metric & data tyranny.

We find ourselves, in other words, having to make sense of a great deal of extremes. We also find ourselves unable to communicate about our shared futures with one another because of enormous information asymmetries on top of very different pasts.

One example of this is the tremendous perspective gap between those who understand & work with technology & data & those who do not.

Another example is the political polarization & radical viewpoints that spread like viruses across networks worldwide.

We need to do a better job sharing perspectives with one another

Technologists, for our part, need to do a better job of explaining ourselves & the technology we work with to those who are not as familiar.

Much like the pollution we emit has fundamentally altered our relationship with the planet & our shared futures, so has the data emitted from our algorithms & activities done the same.

This is both good & bad.

Data is not necessarily pollution. But a great deal of it is. And all data are multipurpose.

It’s time that we all take the time to have some very careful, thoughtful discussions about data. The implications of data & software growth are so far reaching for our shared futures that we cannot allow most of humanity to remain in the dark about it.

We have a moral obligation to become data literate ourselves & to help others do the same.

What next?

This is my attempt to share what I can to help others become more data literate. I hope that it will help make data & technology more relatable to the curious.

Please stay tuned & perhaps follow along on medium if you’d like to be notified of updates.

Also, please check out Swarm Advisory Group’s medium page for advice on data productivity & data privacy, if either topic is interesting to you.

Some conversations you can expect to see at Neurotic Networks in the near future include:

  • The architecture of an epidemic: data & our ability to reason about it
  • Web monetization & why it matters
  • (god) complexity & the cult(ure) of the stressed out, hyperactive cow
  • The tyranny of the rational butterflies, or, A particular kind of chaos
  • The existential need for art, empathy, & memory loss
  • Save the stubborn elephants (how to fix our databases)
  • Data sex
  • The latent schizophrenia of economics over networks
  • Paxos, STONITH, & other forms of machine voting
  • Artifact capitalism, living the proof, & being a good neighbor
  • Love, transactions, & risk
  • Cooperation, chaos, & computing
  • Dancing, databases, & DNA

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

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