On Predictability

Customi­sa­tion means having the world adapting to what we need, want, expect, fear, desire, hope, or wish. It is nice and enticing to receive the right discount, at the right time, for the right goods we are plan­ning to buy anyway. And recom­men­da­tions based on our inter­ests are better than random ones, based on anyone’s taste. The risk, however, is that our digital tech­nolo­gies may easily become defining tech­nolo­gies rather than mere iden­ti­fying ones... No wonder we become predictable: we have been made predictable. Nor do our tech­nolo­gies have any interest in our devel­op­ments and trans­for­ma­tions: quite the oppo­site. They would like to see a customer who likes some­thing to keep liking that some­thing and anything else that is similar to that some­thing. Cats lovers turning at most into kittens lovers, not dogs lovers. Amazon’s recom­men­da­tion system can only rein­force choices and tastes and make them more stable, and more predictable. So do the ‘smart’ algo­rithms behind the news­feeds of Face­book and Insta­gram. Our malleability is used to give ourselves a perma­nent shape not to enable us to change shape.

Luciano Floridi, "The Self-Fulfilling Prophesy" - http://www.schirn.de/en/magazine/context/the_self_fulfilling_prophesy/