Having surfaced in the public conscious only recently, owing to the increasing scale of their use by the giants of Silicon Valley, algorithms are a subject that is capable of arousing a full spectrum of reactions among the public: from fear, to fantasy, to promise.
The 2016 edition of the European Lab Forum welcomed one of the leading gures in this eld, Evgeny Morozov, a thinker who advocates tirelessly in favour of speci c big data policies and sends out repeated warnings about the “dark side” of the Internet and its threat to our liberties and democracies.
Data and algorithms, held responsible for the spreading of fake news within “ lter bubbles”, nd themselves at the heart of controversies over post-truth. Meanwhile, private companies and multinationals are showing an ever keener interest in the opportunities o ered by an industry whose potential for pro t seems to hold no bounds.
Last March, the Big Data Forum was held in Paris, where it was estimated that €445 million of annual pro t was made from data exploitation activities. As the presence of data becomes more and more widespread, how will we be able to regulate what is fast becoming the world’s biggest market ?
While thinkers and activists are devising new ways to compensate contributors through the introduction of a data basic income, some governments are more interested in how they can make the most of data to improve public services.
Caught between fantasy and reality, progress and danger, what is the truth behind big data and mass algorithm models? And more importantly, just what is at stake for our societies ?