This project adresses today's conflict about how companies are influencing society using big data.
This project was assigned by the academy, in the division: Void. We were assigned to create a speculative design. A design based on contemporary emerging technologies that questions the relationship between man and technology. The project has to incite reflection and debate.
We started this 4-week project with a one-day hackathon where we had to come up with interesting combinations between (future)technologies. At the end of the day we decided to focus us on social media and emotions. How to stop people from being fake on social media?
We had one week to explore that problem and find a solution. In one week we created an application using Microsofts facial recognition software, that allowed us to read emotions from people trough the camera. The idea behind it is that facebook posts automatically get liked based on your emotional expression.
The coming weeks we had to further explore the our theme social media and emotions. Recent developments in the news about Cambridge Analytica triggered us to do something with social media and mass manipulation. We researched how much of our data is being used and how much power we actually give to the people who posess our data. It made me delete my Facebook, it's naive to think that suddenly no-one has my data anymore but it's about the idea. And actually leaving Facebook felt liberating.
Back to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is known that they're involved in rigging presidential elections. It shows how much power they have, they are able to change the way you think about things by providing you with the right content. In the meanwhile we think we come up with our own opinions, but in reality we live in a Shadow Democracy.
We wanted to make people more aware of that. We wanted people to experience the true power of our data. So we created a voting boot which does just that. People only have to log in with their facebook account and their vote is automatically being made based on their facebook user data.
Experience the Shadow Democracy here.
It was very fun to see people react to our voting booth. One of our teachers did not even want to enter his login because he was afraid that we would use it for other purposes. In some cases, purely coincidal, the vote app displayed exactly the political party the user voted for. And in some cases people did get a very different political party. Both reacted ashtonished and thought it was a bit sketchy. In the end this work did exactly what it was supposed to do, make people experience the Shadow Democracy.