You Can’t Know What You Don’t Know

The most extreme logical implication of my project is second order ignorance. That is, ignorance of ignorance.

My project is based on pulling back a curtain to reveal how analytics is integrated into every part of our lives. If someone were to remain unaware of this fact, they would be missing the knowledge necessary to enter into a lot of different conversations. There is a lot of rapid technological change that influences our society. Understandably, there is also a decent amount of push back about how things are changing and where they’re going. There are concerns about privacy, there are concerns about artificial intelligence, there are concerns about distraction and attention spans, and there are concerns about representation and bias.

These are all legitimate concerns brought about by technology. But a person’s ability to discuss these concerns is weakened if they don’t understand all the ways in which technology is working around us. Sometimes, when people talk about data manipulation and machine learning, they speak as if there aren’t people behind the scenes making decisions. The technology is autonomous and everything is its fault.

Without a better understanding of all of the influential ways technologies work around us, positive and negative, we aren’t completely capable of forming opinions about how much is too much or how we ought to be employing our new capabilities. Moreover, it’s crucial to be able to recognize that there are people developing these technologies for a purpose, and we need to understand those motivations, since they generally aren’t sinister.

Yes, there is bias in data. But that’s not really a problem. The problem is that people misinterpret and misuse the data so that the biases aren’t acknowledged or accounted for. Technology creates concerns, but they’re really masked social concerns. We have to know the processes people go though to reach conclusions in order to identify the parts that are problematic. Otherwise, we’ll blame the technology for our own problems.  

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