control


Following Beniger, I have pointed to the need for control in soft sense as the driver for much of what is going in ICTs these days. But is China understanding control in a hard sense? China Telecom showed off its ability to measure the amount of trash in several garbage cans and detect malfunctioning fire hydrants. Investors and analysts say China’s unabashed fervor for collecting such data, combined with its huge population, could eventually give its artificial intelligence companies an edge over American ones. If Silicon Valley is marked by a libertarian streak, China’s vision offers something of an antithesis, one where tech is meant to reinforce and be guided by the steady hand of the state.
Following Beniger, I have pointed to the need for control in soft sense as the driver for much of what is going in ICTs these days. But is China understanding control in a hard sense? China Telecom showed off its ability to measure the amount of trash in several garbage cans and detect malfunctioning fire hydrants. Investors and analysts say China’s unabashed fervor for collecting such data, combined with its huge population, could eventually give its artificial intelligence companies an edge over American ones. If Silicon Valley is marked by a libertarian streak, China’s vision offers something of an antithesis, one where tech is meant to reinforce and be guided by the steady hand of the state.
The NYT Sunday Review carries a fascinating piece on how US and European wildlife officials are using the full panoply of ICTs and big data analytics to manage eco-systems and human-animal conflict. I’ve always felt that Beniger’s discussion of control was central to any realistic understanding of what is happening with big data and ICTs. What happens with animals today may happen with humans tomorrow. Starting in the early 2000s, the recovery program employed ancient and contemporary technology: Net-guns, fired from helicopters, were used to capture bighorn outfitted with collars that carried both GPS and VHF radio transmitters; professional hunters, meanwhile, tracked and darted every mountain lion in the area to outfit them with collars that carried VHF radio transmitters. Biologists at computer monitors began to watch bighorn movements.
We have always said that big data is about control, in the soft form first described by James Beniger. Information and control are closely connected. Beniger (1986, pp. 7-8) states that the twin activities of information processing and reciprocal communication (or feedback) are inseparable from the concept of control. Control is defined in the broadest sense as “purposive influence toward a predetermined goal.
For more than a year, we have been writing about the possibility of a Putin Putsch at the ITU, that there was no effective counter narrative, and that gullible characters like Sarkozy were being sucked into these plans. Now journalists are making reference to the events that we blogged about: The Russian move comes shortly after Moscow’s new domestic legislation that will allow it to block content deemed “extremist” and a year after President Vladimir Putin told ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré, “Russia was keen on pursuing the idea of establishing international control over the Internet, using monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the ITU.” ITU Secretary General Toure has been denying he wants to take over the Internet. But it appears that there are others who want to give the Internet to the ITU. The December 3-14 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai, could collapse if Russia does not back off from its proposal to bring the Internet under the control of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), thereby subjecting the web to inter-governmental regulation.