Hacking Data Big Brother

artAn interesting international unconference took place early last week in Madrid Hacking Big Data Brother: From Biometrics to Intra-action.

The event focused on the consequences of the ‘digitized human’ gathering philosophers, performance artists, historians and computer scientists. Futuristic approaches to bioprivacy include new solutions to cybersecurity, such as using spontaneous body movements and rhythms to identify users. Apparently, we all have a unique way to handle smart devices; a unique signature for continuous authentication.  Kevin LaGrandeur, based at NYIT, considers that passwords may soon become obsolete with this alternative method of validating the identity of computer users. In particular, he predicts that soon we could all be identifiable not just by coding the way we move the mouse across the monitor or scroll down with a finger touch, but also by taking into account the way we behave on a network (e.g., pattern recognition). This fine-grain analysis of human behaviour has obvious consequences for potential intrusiveness into the user’s privacy, and many ethical challenges need to be considered.

As a consequence, Jaime del Val at Reverso.org calls for the need to revise the future of technoethics arguing that Big Data is currently crossing a new ontological dimension into how we can understand the nature of being. Current politics, social movements, regulatory bodies, ethical discourses, and so forth are becoming obsolete with regards to this new approach to big data ‘A radical change in the human, the social and power demands new kinds of critical engagement and new modes of politics.’

In light of this seemingly radical assumption, Hacking Big Data Brother embeds a series of events organised by METABODY, a European project including 38 partners and 16 countries. METABODY aims to provide “a critique of the unsustainable tendencies of cultural homogenisations of Information Society and develop new communication technologies that highlight the embodied differences in expression and communication, developing interactive multisensorial laboratories of perception and movement integrated in a mobile experimental interactive/intra-active architectural structure and embodied social network for performances, installations, workshops, seminars, residencies and continuous research, that will tour throughout nine European cities.”

Some of these events have included street performances at the financial quarter of Madrid, where more than 20 tent-like structures each containing a single person paraded across the city to provoke some thoughts regarding expression and communication. The title for these performances was “Metatopia”, also part of METABODY. The intention of this artistic display was to protest about the current global tendency to use Big Data to  achieve the prediction and homogenization of human behaviour.  This is a type of street activism that can only fuel current collective protests against Facebook, Amazon and Google for their illegitimate use of personal data.

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