Facebook Cambridge Analytica: The Role and Silence of Science

Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: In the early years of 2000, Alex Pentland was in charge of the laptop team at the MIT Media Lab. MIT's Media Labs was where the first ideas for Augmented Reality and Fitbit fitness trackers began.

At that time, of course, the they were huge, since bags were needed to transport them and cameras on the researchers' heads.

"It was basically a lot τηλέφωνα, που έπρεπε να κολλήσουμε μαζί”, αναφέρει ο Pentland στο Wired. Όμως το hardware δεν ήταν το σημαντικότερο κομμάτι, όσο ήταν οι τρόποι αλληλεπίδρασης μεταξύ των συσκευών.

"We were able to see all the people on earth," says the researcher - where they went, and what they bought.

Έτσι, μέχρι τα μέσα της δεκαετίας, όταν οι άνθρωποι άρχισαν να εγγράφονται μαζικά στα κοινωνικά όπως το Facebook, ο Pentland και οι κοινωνικοί επιστήμονες άρχισαν να εξετάζουν τα δεδομένα των δικτύων και των κινητών τηλεφώνων για να δουν πώς επεκτείνονται οι viral δημοσιεύσεις, πώς συνδέονται οι φίλοι μεταξύ τους, και πώς διαμορφώνονται οι πολιτικές συμμαχίες.

"We inadvertently invented a particle accelerator to understand human behavior," said David Lazer, a Harvard political scientist.

"It was understood that everything was changing in terms of understanding human behavior." So at the end of 2007, Lazer and Pentland held a conference entitled "Computational Social Science" analyzing what Big Data says.

In early 2009 the participants of this conference published a -statement of principles in the prestigious journal Science. (PDF)

The publication has provided the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, which exploited the online behavior of millions of users, to better understand the personalities and preferences of these users. Exploiting this knowledge has been able to influence the US elections.

"These vast, emerging data on how people interact certainly offer qualitatively new perspectives on understanding collective human behavior," the researchers write.

But all this emerging understanding came with dangers.

“Perhaps the thorniest challenges that exist on the data side are about access and ", the study said.

"Because a single dramatic privacy breach could create rules and regulations that stifle the emerging field of computer social science, self-regulation of processes, technologies and rules that reduce this risk but maintain research momentum is required. ”

Ενδεχομένως το ακόμα πιο ανησυχητικό από το ότι η Cambridge Analytica προσπάθησε να κατασκευάσει τα των εκλογών, (κάτι που πολλοί πίστευαν ότι δεν είναι εφικτό) is the role of scientists in facilitating moral harm.

Scientists, although initially warned us about Big Data and the upcoming corporate supervision, on the other hand the social sciences saw the opportunity to gain prestige.

“Τα περισσότερα από τα πράγματα που πιστεύουμε ότι γνωρίζουμε για την ανθρωπότητα βασίζονται σε ελάχιστα και ως εκ τούτου δεν είναι ισχυρή επιστήμη”, αναφέρει ο Pentland, συγγραφέας της μελέτης του 2009.

Cambridge Analytica

Data and computational social science promised to change that. Data produces science, which not only quantifies it but can also calculate what is to come. Other sciences do it for the a the DNA and and the electrons. The social sciences cannot (or rather could not) do this for humans.

Then it became a truly quantum leap.

Observation and prediction lead to the ability to intervene on a system. It is the same progress that results from the understanding of heredity through the observation of DNA sequences.

So Cambridge Analytica was able to use computational social science to influence behavior. Cambridge Analytica said it could do it and apparently deceived to acquire the data.

It was the disaster that the 2009 study authors had warned.

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Written by giorgos

George still wonders what he's doing here ...

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