Extensions of BiasPhysical Installation 08 Dec 2016
A speculative new media art installation that illustrates how media technology is transformed into an instrument that ‘programs’ human biases.
The installation consists of four Raspberry Pi’s which connect to Twitter, scrape for tweets based on a specific keyword and then read it through a speaker using text-to-speech. Every 2 minutes, each of these four nodes chooses a random keyword or a name from a set of categories: politics, science, ideology, technology, consumerism, memoirs, and celebrities. When one keyword out of dozens within each category is chosen, each of the nodes starts announcing live tweets that contain the chosen keyword. The idea behind this process, is to exaggerate the confirmation bias that humans enjoy exercising as users of media technology.
The destiny of the romantic relationship between humans and technology is certain — technology is becoming less of a tool, and more of a prosthesis that is actively shaping the human condition and agency. But what does this ‘marvelous’ and ‘empowering’ technology bring? Along the biases that are already inherent in human nature, how can technology augment our immensely biased natures? Are we using technology as an instrument that expands our rationality, or are we creating bubbles of opinions and prejudices that we endlessly affirm and entertain — chasms desolated from rationality.
Human bias is transformed into a commodity once digital capitalism seeks to quantify and determine it. This process has become inconspicuous to human awareness as it hardwires the human consciousness, and becomes a constituent of the modern human condition. Human bias is a catalyst for the instrumentality of mass sensation, desire, marketing, and political sentiment. It is an equivalent of a deliberate stimulation and manipulation of the human nervous system with electrodes — distracting the mind from thinking sanely.
Too little information is viewed as a deprivation from freedom of speech, but too much information—to an extent that it becomes imperceptible — is frequently not reckoned as such. But distraction is the key instrumentality of bias; it easily breeds control, subversion, and indirect manipulation. Excessive abundance of information transforms rationality into an oblique signal, fainted by news about Taylor Swift’s sex life, the new iPhone, and a politician’s hair style, and so on. But the information that surfaces and reaches the viewer; is based on the ideologic intents of either the global Silicone Valley, or insurgent AI algorithms that no human fully comprehends. These inconspicuous algorithms are already injecting biases into the arteries of our gullible society.
As humanity invents new emergent forms of media consumption, we also embrace the biases that inherit to these mediums. Mass media feeds, corporate endorsement, rhetoric, and undigested ideologies — are served to the human consciousness through the arteries of digital media. While we condition ourselves to trust and embrace these technologies, we unconsciously carve and condition a manipulable human nature, satisfying the needs and forces of digital capitalism.