When we're online... who are we?

Short but stimulating piece from Prof Steve Fuller at Warwick University. He's speculating about how the personas we build online are becoming ever more powerful. Artificial intelligence will soon give them the power to make decisions on our behalf.

Is this yet another new automated labour-saving service for us to cope with (like the Spike Jones' movie Her, pictured above). Or is it something strange and inhuman to resist?

Quote from Fuller:

An obvious case in point is the idea of ‘working from home’. People who operate this way typically shift back and forth between performing work and non-work activities on screen in an open-ended and relatively unstructured day. Meanwhile, all the data registered in these activities are gathered by information providers (e.g. Google, Facebook, Amazon), who then analyse and consolidate them for resale to private and public sector clients.

Is this exploitation? The answer is not so clear. The information providers offer a platform that is free at the point of use, enabling users to produce and consume data indefinitely. Of course, such platforms are the source of both intense frustration and endless satisfaction for users, but... these experiences are not necessarily what one might expect of people in a state of ‘exploitation’. On the contrary, there is reason to think that people increasingly locate ‘meaning’ in their lives in some cyber-projection (‘avatar’) of themselves, notwithstanding the third-party ownership of the platform hosting the cyber-projection.