A society of absolute transparency predicted by science fiction?

Dystopian work 1984 that we cite ad nauseam to characterize our modernity is actually far from the only one that bets on the future reign of total transparency as a new form of totalitarian state. In his test The absolute eye, published in 2010, Gérard Wajcman also wonders about this ideology of the hypervisible, and its consequences in our daily lives. This psychoanalyst and professor who runs the Center for the Study of the History and Theory of Glance sees with a critical eye this society that constantly watches over the innocent who we are where before we were content to watch the criminals.

Undoubtedly, it is the fear of all Internet users that is constantly being monitored that is driving the current exponential development in the use of VPNs. This technology allows you to browse online with some anonymity. Checking which free VPN is good is still an adventure among the countless referrals browsing this market today. But when we consider the level of censorship and surveillance that prevails on the net for the average individual in China or now in Russia, it may seem urgent to protect and anonymize their virtual movements to find some form of freedom. .

In a chapter of his magazine BiTS, art he did justice to the work of science fiction by anticipating the potentially dangerous handling of the data we leave behind, without thinking, on the web, but also constantly now, through our cell phones and CCTV cameras. Our image is everywhere, our movements are observed, whether virtual or real. We can even follow the war in real time through the various surveillance cameras in the countries in conflict, which ends up being a danger, because the attacker can use these sources of information quite easily.

In his novel Foundation, Isaac Asimov invents the concept of a new science, psychohistory. The latter establishes a systematic dialogue between the human sciences, such as history, psychology and sociology, and the hard sciences, such as mathematics, and more particularly statistics. The result, through very complex calculations, is the ability to predict future history. But isn’t that what big data experts promise us in the end? The parallelism is really disturbing.

Predicting the future by analyzing data from the past is already something that is economically used in the world of insurance, through actuaries who process a lot of data. Its mission is to determine what premium an insured must pay even before knowing exactly what it will cost, while guaranteeing the company’s margin … Marine Corlosquet-Habart, acting partner and Jacques Janssen, professor of mathematics at Solvay Business School, had published a first synthesis on this topic entitled Big data for insurance companiespublished by ISTE (€ 20.89, 172 pages)

This prediction mode is also used for the stock market. And these are techniques that stock trading companies constantly use, and some have specialized in modeling based on learned mathematical calculations that take into account colossal masses of data. In this sense, we can be interested in the founding book of the polytechnic Benoît Mandelbrot, Fractals, chance and finance (248 pages, € 9.20).

If we are not yet at the level invented by the Russian-American Isaac Asimov, there are already implementations of predictive capabilities that may begin to question us. So Facebook had been able to boast of knowing, thanks to the analysis of their own data, that two people would soon enter into a romantic relationship. It is enough to assess the increase in the intensity of the exchange between two people, either through Messenger or on the wall of each of the two stakeholders. Disturbing, again, although the prediction may seem a little light, and still not very disturbing.

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