Stochastic Thoughts

The more reciprocity exchanged between algorithms and our daily lives- the more our lives become an algorithm. The law of economics demands an equilibrium between supply and demand, but says what of free choice? If supply is advertised and micro-targeted, if demand is manufactured by mining our data trials and social engagements, then which effect is shaping which outcome? Does a dog wag its tail or a tail wag the dog? The point is that not everything innate to human nature can be quantified, systematized and mathematically formulated into a one size fits all encapsulation of an entire world teeming with unique individuals. Not everything I enjoy can be digitized and shared online, and I certainly would not share the things I am truly embarrassed about. Therein lies the pattern of an obscure but larger truth: If advertising is largely a function of a series of data driven algorithms, yet algorithms are largely based on an incomplete order of my preferences based upon my digital purchase trial and social media habits, then is not my existence distorted to those analyzing my digital history? Am I not being misrepresented by an algorithmic structure claiming certainty of my likes inside of an uncertain world? Economics talks about scarcity and the choices forced upon us by limited resources. In terms of material resources this is true. In terms of time as well. But what about the digital economy? Is there a limit on the availability of most digital resources? Digital products are not some tangible product like milk or bread, how do you limit the amount of something available, often for free, on the internet? Can you ever truly control an unlimited system of convolutional neural networks? If you could, would you want to?

All things have there place. Algorithms help make life more efficient in many cases, however it’s important to never lose sight of what’s at stake with the increasing frequency with which we rapidly cede over or own agency to quantized processing networks; we may be making our day to day lives easier while concomitantly making our lives, perhaps even our very ability to process information individually, more difficult in the long run. We should at least be willing to try and learn things for ourselves before resigning ourselves to have it done for us by our computers.