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(Twelve-minute read) 

People think they’re free, but in reality, they don’t even understand freedom.

To live a free life, you must first be free.

Rousseau notes that the real mystery of freedom is how we can be in chains and still regard ourselves as free (Rousseau: 181).

And Kant’s argument provides us with a formidable justification for assuming that freedom is the necessary and indispensable condition of human existence given that man has the capacity to act upon the commands of reason: that is the categorical imperative.

If the will is subject to extraneous circumstances or influences it ceases to express itself freely in our actions. In this scheme of things, freedom can only be preserved if the moral laws that individuals endorse and accept as their guidance are such that they can accept them voluntarily (Kant: 57-58).

Just how true in the world of Algorithms, Data collection, Social Media, Search Platforms, Track and Trace, Potential Covid Passports, Smartphones with around-the-clock electronic surveillance to name just a few, remains to be seeing.     

In fact, there is no such thing as freedom. 

Is there a statement more likely to provoke consternation from people than to submit that there is no such thing as freedom?

I think not.

The modern political theory holds that “freedom” is something available to all but in the technology world and post-pandemic world, there is no such thing as freedom in the absolute sense since everyone views freedom differently.

Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?

The dictionary definition of freedom is; The power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint and the power to determine action without restraint.

In other words, we have full control over the things that we choose to do.

This is simply not true.

A democratic constitution will not state that each of us is free, what it says is that we have the right to certain freedoms which the constitution is supposed to protect.  

We are simply part of a system of rules that gives us certain rights referred to as freedoms.

So what have we got? 

  • Free means that we freely make the choices we make and are thus are morally responsible for our choices. In addition, we may be held legally accountable for the choices we make.
  • Or does it mean I am stronger than you, so I will retain my freedoms at your expense by the use of force?

There is no such thing as “freedom” because it can’t be defined objectively.

Why? 

Because too many people in the world live with the constraints of poverty, poor access to health care and education, and a structural lack of opportunity.

None of us were representation or were participants in the writing of the rules of the social contract of the Internet.

In the face of such a common reality, is it reasonable to speak of free will as a tool to change lives?

At the most, we might be able to argue that in such circumstances a person is constrained but not determined.

We are free to stop eating but we are not free to stop breathing.

                                             ————–

The truth is that our rights, beliefs, and actions are determined by our biology, neurology, life context, nature, experiences, and interpretation of our experiences.

In psychological terms, free will means that we understand the history of our determinedness; how we have come to be what we are. 

However, the scope of your individual rights has one primary limit: it ends where the rights of another begin.

Apply that universally and you have the basis for all rights.

Instead of using the word “freedom” as an entity all in itself (which does not exist) should we be using rights?

Each culture defines rights differently based on the ethos of the various cultures.

“Rights” are simply arbitrary policies set up by individual societies to meet the needs of the citizens. Different people and different individuals differ on what they believe is a right.

Again, a subjective phrase depending on what is morally right.

It is my belief, and it is a belief shared by many, that these are rights that should be observed, and that the infringement upon these rights of any entity, whether it be government or individual, should be stopped.

So rights are freedoms with the caveat that it’s morally correct to collect Data without our express permission to do so in the first place. A Liberty which is taken for granted.

Take  “Liberty” an abstract word that doesn’t have an absolute definition.

The word simply means whatever it is accepted to mean even if one’s man’s desired Liberty is perceived as infringing on another man’s Liberty.

Freedom, use to be the ability to legally do or think anything that does not infringe upon the rights of another human being whether or not the action or thought is popular or under a certain prevailing viewpoint.

Freedom does happen, in the brain but one’s perception of freedom changes when one can not see the freedom one owns. So freedom these days still exists though it may seem as though it is not all that it is cracked up to be.

Not any longer. To access platforms one has to agree with an untransparent Algorithm that runs that platform.  

Is this morally wrong? 

How do you define “morally wrong” when everyone has a different moral belief?

The problem is that data collection is now the holy grail and the fewer people in a country feel they have been severely limited in their freedom, the less free the country is as a whole.

“Freedom is nothing left to lose”

The current Pandemic has and is highlighting how freedoms that are taken for granted can be reversed. 

As long as the masses do what the elite tells them to do, then they are free.

What then is freedom? 

The power to live as one wishes. – Marcus Tullius Cicero.

The moment we let go is the moment we find freedom. – Rebekah Stephenson.

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. – Martin Luther King.

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom assumes responsibility and most people are afraid of that. – Sigmund Freud.

Freedom is the power to choose our own chains. – Jean Jacques Rousseau.

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything. – Tyler Durden.

Money doesn’t buy you freedom, but freedom cannot be achieved without money either. Money doesn’t work for you, you work for money – you’re a slave for money.

                                          __________________

The role of the internet and social media offered the possibility of retrieving a common space and a way for people to share and connect and to be free. 

It was a chance to build an economy that wasn’t based purely on the extraction of resources and capital.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, digital technology is used to double down on industrialism and it has evolved in everything from the spread of terrorist propaganda to the rise of authoritarianism.

At some point, technology ceased to be a tool to help us get what we want and instead became the only thing we actually want.

Technology is everywhere, and we’re all more or less dependent upon it — so how do we escape the pitfalls?

We’re talking about algorithms here. They live with us, even if we don’t see them.

We stopped using technology and it started using us.

We’re all hostage to our technologies, or we’re simply at the mercy of this system.

We’re being steamrolled by our devices, and the result is a kind of emotional slavery turning crucial decisions about people’s lives over to machines to translate the data into action.

We now live in a consumer democracy that restricts human connection and stokes “whatever appetites guarantee the greatest profit.”

Algorithms are behind the digital services that we consult daily. They are modifying the opinion of their users based on their psychological profiles and they are increasingly being extended to all businesses.

Take a platform like Facebook, and Facebook is using data from your past to dump you into a statistical bucket. Once they know what bucket you’re in, they do everything to keep you in that bucket and to make you behave in ways that are more consistent with all the things about that bucket.

The lifeblood of data science is turning what left of our identity into  “filtered freedom”  “predictive algorithms freedom”  “governance algorithm” “risk reports algorithms, Google search algorithms,  all effectively destroying human autonomy.

With a growing dependence on automated systems that are taking humans and transparency out of the process?

Where are our digital rights? 

How to confront the use of algorithms.

George Orwell once predicted that those who control the information hold the power.

This is more true today than it ever was!

How do you win against a computer that is built to stop you?

How do you stop something that predetermines your fate? 

There must be total and full transparency with all algorithms subject to auditable accountability. 

I can’t control other people, but I can control my choices.  

One of the things we need to make really clear about algorithms — is that they are hand-tailored to a particular decision.

Kant notes that man may come to approve of various rules of social co-operation for a variety of reasons, some of them ethically more obscure than others.

Algorithms are not just doing our thinking for us they are fucking up the world.

AI algorithms are worthless without a dataset to work on.

Because of this, the usefulness of an AI algorithm is intrinsically tied to the availability of high-quality data. In this regard, AI algorithms are fundamentally different from other types of software, whose code is valuable on its own without any additional data.

This is why you see companies like IBM buying Weather Channel’s data operations not because it wanted to know if it’s going to rain, but because climate change is going to be the number-one factor driving global GDP the data will allowing it to do everything from predicting winter energy demand to forecasting crop yields.

Google, Facebook, and others hold similar advantages in their respective areas, possessing vast quantities of consumer and social-media data that can be used to train highly valuable AI tasks, from sentiment analysis for marketing to object-recognition for photos to natural language processing for user interfaces.

For AI tech companies with large treasure troves of data, the sky is the limit, and rest assured it is not to stimulate broad societal benefits but to cash in on your freedoms.

Freedom is to remember your humanity what you do with what’s been done to you.  

All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.