On the Dunning-Kruger Effect on “Open Data” Algorithms, or Beware the Technocracy

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

I came across an interesting article, “THE POWER OF OPEN DATA TO TRANSFORM AND ENGAGE COMMUNITIES: A CALL FOR IDEAS,” linked below, featured in a recent Technocracy News online issue.

The introduction by TN editor, Patrick Wood, caught my eye and got me to thinking about how in this age of technology (and technocracy), we are all depending more and more on technology to solve problems and less and less on conventional wisdom that got us from the Sticks and Stones Age to the Skyscraper and Silicon Age.

But is all this open data good?

Here is what got me thinking.

THE (ARTICLE’S) INTRODUCTION:

You cannot know what you do not know (*), and scientists cannot describe, much less explain, exactly what human consciousness or soul is, so how can they brag that they will create it in a computer algorithm? This is the height of arrogance with a strong desire to play God.

Both Technocracy and Transhumanism are based on Scientism, a religious belief that truth is the exclusive product of science, and that no truth can exist outside of scientific discovery. It pointedly excludes all other religious thought and especially Biblical Christianity. It is ironic that they want to imitate the powers of a God they disdain in the first place. ⁃ TN Editor 

*This reminds me of the Dunning-Kruger Effect,

“…a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from the inability of people to recognize their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, people cannot objectively evaluate their competence or incompetence.”[1]

…and how the D-K Effect might effect the (technological) brain child of people.

For despite all the ways technology does make our lives much better, it also has its alarming flaws–intended and not–particularly as designed for use by technocrats.

In the next section, I will discuss how the Dunning-Kruger Effect on AI, despite all the benefits of technology, might also exacerbate its nefarious purposes.

Under the guise of progress, safety, and inclusivity, of course.

The D-K Effect on the “AI Brains” that Analyze Open Data

Considering how hard it is for flesh-and-blood brains to “know what they don’t know,” apply that to the only kinds of brains humans can come up with (plastic, wires, and solder; tin, zinc, and copper) in order to design “analysis algorithms”.

Imagine an (artificial) world where stacks of stats compete with millenia of the kind of wisdom acquired by all the mental, psychological, intuitive, and spiritual mechanisms (elements Wood may be referring collectively to as our “consciousness or soul”) man employs that tap into the intangibles that make things run as smoothly as possible and keep us from blowing ourselves to smithereens.

You might liken all the “invisible stuff” that motors our motivations and problem-solving skills to a kind of glue holding the best of civilization together, despite, meanwhile, in other corners, those who would break it apart.

If AI wins, or is forced upon us, imagine, then, handing over our critical thinking skills to Frankenmental, a brain of our own making cobbled together from that which moth, rust, and anybody with wire cutters can destroy, not to mention what havoc teenaged geniuses in dorm rooms and Mom’s basement can wreak by both working on such technology and hacking into the software later on, given the fact that it may be several years before their (real) brain is fully developed to be able to adequately handle adult-level decisions and behaviors.

In other words, it’s one thing to have “just the facts, ma’am” (remember Joe Friday from the old 1950s television series Dragnet?) and another to place them correctly into a real, more in-depth analysis that includes both the seen and unseen elements cited above.

The difference between analytical outcomes reminds me a little of Mark Twain’s famous saying: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a larger matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

It also reminds me of the expression, “He who frames the argument wins the debate,” which is an awful lot like how data can be tweaked to reveal a pre-determined result, for example, political polls.

I mean, how much do you trust political polls?

In short, getting reality right requires more than mere matter–and/or metal.

Keeping in mind that the article linked below is a SALES PITCH and how ad-meisters are so adept at bending, shaping, and aiming words to seduce their intended audience, turn your (real) critical thinker to “high” before proceeding.

Then, after you read the glowing, pro-universal-data-collection article below, should you decide to, I invite you to also ponder the following points regarding the Utopia (Datopia?) suggested by the proponents of “smart communities”:

Because when you pull each of the points out of the persuasive context of the advertising campaign in which they are embedded and unpack them as discrete phrases or statements, a whole new dystopian world is suggested.

Consider:

  • “the robust, seamless exchange of data…” (“Seemless”? Really? Considering how many “data breeches” occur all the time by accident and on purpose?),
  •  “The power of data — especially “open” data, made available by government and, in some cases, private companies…” (Do we really want government, let alone random companies, involved in dispensing “open data” about us to whomever, wherever, whenever? Also, see first bullet point),
  • “to encourage a new set of transformative approaches for using, understanding and taking action with public data…” (“Taking action”? What action? Who determines what action? What do you mean by “transformative approaches”? Who transforms what approach?),
  • “new approaches for sharing, displaying, interpreting and communicating with data…” (Because we don’t already have enough),
  • “alternative ways to collect and analyze data to inform smarter, more collaborative decisions…” (“Collaborative”? Wisdom reveals that not all decisions should be handed over to a commitee, focus group, and/or a group of hand-picked participants),
  • “successful practices that move communities closer to a vision of participatory, inclusive and engaged communities…” (Depends on the meaning of “inclusive” especially as it has been co-opted and changed in today’s political climate to mean quite the opposite in some contexts), and
  • “Whether it be accident and collision data, park scores, walkability, housing density, local government information or demographic information—all of these data points have the opportunity to radically change the way residents interact with neighbors, government and their community. If we want to accomplish our goals with open data, we must unlock its use for millions of Americans who seek to participate in their community and make more informed decisions that engender equitable, inclusive and participatory communities” (Depends on not only what “inclusive” means but also “equitable,” but, hey, doesn’t it sound really good? Act today and receive a free data collection and transmission tattoo on your choice of forehead or hand!)…

THE ARTICLE 

“THE POWER OF OPEN DATA TO TRANSFORM AND ENGAGE COMMUNITIES: A CALL FOR IDEAS” by Lilian Coral via Knight Foundation on Nov 14, 2019.

Any antidotes?

Please?

As someone I know who has worked for many years in high tech often says, in order to skirt as much surveillance as possible in today’s world, “hide in plain sight.” Buy old stuff, wear old stuff, use old stuff. “Old” as in manufactured before they began embedding tracking devices, RFIDs,  in everything from cars to toasters to clothes. Or make what you need yourself if you can.

But most importantly, he says, “keep your spiritual bags packed.”

~~~~~

Image of computer from Wikimedia Commons

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