From the Dream of Hyperconnectivity to the Nightmare of Immobility

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Rodrigo FIRMINO, Pontifical Catholic University of Parana (PUCPR), Brazil
In “The Electronic Eye”—one of the cornerstones of surveillance studies in sociology—David Lyon situates the circulation of personal information as one of the most important issues to be inquired within the technological changes of the late twentieth century. The ethics and the politics of surveillance became a major concern to social sciences. It was 1994 and the Internet was in its infancy, while many were dreaming with the wonders of a democratic hyperconnected society, tackling problems of social inequality through online communities. More than two decades on—and after 9/11 and Snowden—personal information is now personal data, and there is Big Data as well as powerful algorithms to govern the movements of data and everything that can be done with it. Inequalities have grown, and so the apprehensiveness with the augmented way in which personal data is shared, exchanged, sold, and classified for social sorting purposes. Algorithm is, in many ways, as powerful and determinant to shape changing-present and future societies as the car was (and still is) to the industrial modernist cities. Algorithm represents everything that can be programmed, planned, scripted, predicted, and preempted. It is the essence of what seems to be the next urban form in terms of connection, communication, and (im)mobility. In this environment, data is coded and compared with behavioral patterns to produce methods of social and spatial sorting, and access control. If something deviates from these patterns, actions are taken to bring things back to what is considered normality. Each algorithm defines, thus, a specific rhythm for movement and connection in the city. In this paper, I aim to use some of today’s examples of territorial manifestations to show how a potential hyperconnected society is, in fact, resulting in some patterns of immobilization for targeted individuals and groups.