Corporations have them. Governments have them. Scientists have them. Retailers have them. Banks have them. Securities markets have them. Odds makers have them. Search engines have them. They all have algorithms that mine data, predict outcomes, use sophisticated mathematical modeling to forecast the future and track human behavior. The world is engulfed by invisible strings of numbers and unseen lines of computer code that control the “backroom” operations of modern life. Everyone has algorithms, except real people.
Today, giant corporations control much of our contemporary life. Beyond providing the things we consume, these corporations bombard our daily existence with an ever-increasing barrage of advertising and a constant imperative to buy. Their amplified messages have become so commonplace that most people simply do not realize the meta-forces at work.
Harnessing the power of information generated by interacting with real people, corporations, banks, insurance companies and the government have moved down the road to being the arbiter of our personal freedoms. Data mining, a science and an industry that has grown exponentially over the past decade, makes going to the mall and using your credit card a free source of critical information to the credit card companies about your personal habits - stores you like, products you buy, places where you eat lunch and even what you had for lunch. Every time a person ventures out into the world and uses a credit card, it is like a trail of breadcrumbs leading into one’s private psyche.
Even the “cool hunters” of only a few years ago - individuals who hunt the next big trend by wandering around urban areas looking for cool people or “mavens” - seem archaic by today's standards. This “cool hunting” now takes place on Facebook and Twitter and wherever else people, especially younger people, discuss their likes and dislikes. Those seemingly unencumbered interactions ironically provide the personal data that can be mined and interpreted by algorithms that predict what is culturally worthwhile and what is not, what will be profitable or not.
But the dark side of these algorithms is that they can be manipulated, tailored for specific outcomes and communicated seamlessly and relentlessly to the target audience. What was once meant to promote new products or forms of art and free expression is now a means to further energize popular appeal for what is already popular or for what a corporation feels should be popular. Communications that appear to be custom-tailored to each individual are just clear manipulations of data gleaned from your interactions with society.
The loss of personal privacy is happening at light speed and it is time this issue comes to the forefront. People’s lives are being watched, counted, categorized and controlled by the unseen, unsleeping and unfeeling mathematic formulas that roam the globe without regulation or regard for personal liberty. In time, unchecked, the algorithms and the corporations and governments that control them will effectively block independent voices from being heard.
In November 2011, Jay Fox’s book THE WALLS was published. It is a book that speaks to the Echo Boomers and speaks for them in many ways. It gives voice to the issues that affect the Millenials and their personal futures. What follows are some excerpts from THE WALLS that capture the essence of what RAGE AGAINST THE ALGORITHMS represents.
Is this the natural successor to the Occupy Wall Street movement? Only time will tell.
THE WALLS Facebook Wall is now live and open to the world. Post your views and share your stories on the “Wall” of THE WALLS and become part of a global echo that rages against our collective loss of privacy.
On January 14, 2012, the First ECHO Event is going to take place where Millenials can come together to RAGE AGAINST THE ALGORITHMS and meet Jay Fox in person or by Facebook, Twitter or Skype.
For details on where and when, check out:
Facebook: THE WALLS
On January 14th and 15th, 2012, copies of the THE WALLS eBook will be a free download worldwide on Amazon - click here
“It seems the most troubling problem of my generation is not just the profusion of information, but the absence of referential authority, the inability to award credence to anything that does not comply with our limited understanding of the world.”
“We have been surrounded by forces that seek to prevent critical or existential thought, that seek to diminish any knowledge of history seen through a universal or unpatriotic lens, that seek to ingrain in us the idea that capitalism is not confined to an historical epoch, but that it is the natural order, the only condition under which man will not end up in the throes of ignorance, superstition, and penury. The education system encourages this. The media encourages this. The pharmaceutical industry encourages this. And these industries not only own the means of production in their respective fields; they own the government as well. They have come to control every element that comprises the context of mass-man's daily life; consequently, they now control the definitions of symbols, the symbols by which man navigates through this world.”
“As most will remember, or perhaps come to find, it is a peculiar time in life. Lost in the dialectics of quixotry and cynicism, everything seems both possible and elusive. We maintained the belief that we were being prepared to reshape the world upon our departure from the university—even if we were clueless as to the means we would eventually employ to accomplish this impossible task…”
“I am beginning to feel as though I am simply denying the future by refusing to step out of the past. I went to college without any real idea as to what I wanted to do. I figured something would work itself out. It would just click—I'd realize that there was some small, niche occupation for a person like myself that I had been ignorant of, I'd get the job, and then I'd work there for a time until whatever band I was in took off.”
“In fact, I have learned that I am so much like every other kid who has moved to this city to make it. We're no different than the lottery junkies; we're just more self-righteous because we believe ourselves to be endowed with some type of unique, intellectual gift that will ultimately allow us to egress from the less-than-illustrious world of full-time employment. Some call us lazy, some quixotic, some delusional. Some people blame us for the end of the American Empire. Some say, correctly, that we don't value hard work, that we are so rigidly independent that we refuse to take on careers—we only take on jobs because our real ambitions are going to one day land us on the cover of Rolling Stone or People. Yes, it's all tentative. Corporations don't offer lifetime employment any longer, and we don't want it anymore.”
“We, the so-called Creative Class, are nothing more than a byproduct of the vanity and self-absorption of the sixties, the petulant cynicism of the seventies, the greed and blind optimism of the eighties, and the corporate individualism of the nineties. We demand not only the right to be heard, but the right to have someone broadcast this message for us.”
“And I don't know what I'll do when I lose the opportunity to live like that, like this. I don't know what I'll do when I have to wake up and know that my life is to forever be plagued by vanishing seconds and entire days that I won't remember just because they are no different than the ones that went before, the ones that will come after.”
“And perhaps there is that element of love that is lacking, too; perhaps that's what we really abandon when we relinquish the present—the possibility of love that is not only tangible, but human. And maybe it's the greater love, too; not the love of self or one other or even a series of others, but the love of humanity and the love of life—the joyful pilgrimage with a completely arbitrary destination, which is perhaps the only thing that real art can ever strive to be.”
“The problem with our country, I think, is that the power granted to the nation-state has been more or less usurped by corporations, and these corporations—be they industrial, military-industrial, media-oriented, commercial, or financial, you know, banking and whatnot—have no allegiance to anything besides the growth of their own profit margins. And not just profit margins in a sustained and extended sense, but in a very immediate sense, which is an abominable way to operate.”
“The more the government privatizes or deregulates, the greater the number of people in this country who get screwed. The rich tell the population wonderful lies—of a society of owners or a society with more freedom—but, in the end, the people who prosper from this type of paradigm, with rare exception, are those who are already on top.”
“It is almost irrelevant who we elect because the pool of representatives from which we may choose has been reduced to essentially two types of people: those who support the corporate world, and those who support the working class, but concede virtually everything besides their hollow rhetoric to the corporate world.”
“Less government does not mean more power to the people; it means more power to the corporations and the wealthy.”
“The oldest form of artistic expression, as well as the oldest form of written communication, is to be found on the walls of caves; and they express more than what they let on. While I may run the risk of overextending the importance of such illustrations, I do feel it necessary to point out that the Ten Commandments were not written upon papyrus; they were written on stone. Perhaps the creation of a mural is something similar—an expression of both art and communal values.”
“One bar in particular, some painfully trendy place on Ludlow, was coated in graffiti so thick that I couldn't discern where one thing ended and another began. Everything lost its original meaning, its original purpose, its individuality. This was something of a paradox, perhaps a critique of the information age.”
“The context in which modern man finds himself is one of anonymous consumption. Every facet of his routine—his routine!—reminds him of this, and this profound emptiness that man feels in this society is only nurtured by the manner in which he performs his labor, the manner in which he consumes his food, the manner in which he experiences leisure. He is robbed not only of his spontaneity, but of his will to create, too. And it's only the most incorrigible who will be able to endure in this environment without being dehumanized and subdued. And this incorrigible person is the artist.”
“I mean, if you're going to denounce conformity and consumerism these days, I'm fairly sure you're not going to say anything unique…it's time to pick either a new or more specific gripe.”
“Still, a man must act with real courage if he is to engage his fate.”
THE WALLS was published by Stay Thirsty Press as an original Kindle eBook on November 25, 2011.