Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech

Clara Hendrickson in the Boston Review:

When we consider the future that technological change will bring about, it is tempting to envision a world taken over by robots, where the singularity has given way to superintelligent agents and human extinction. This is the image of our future we have grown accustomed to seeing in cinematic depictions, but it is not the future that British barrister Jamie Susskind wants us to worry about. Instead, in Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech, Susskind focuses on how digital technologies control human life rather than eliminate it.

All digital systems, after all, have their origin in code, and code, Susskind contends, does not merely direct the actions of machines or algorithmic platforms, it also directs our behavior and thought. For example, code can force us to do things we would not otherwise do. A self-driving car engineered to operate below the speed limit ensures its users obey the law. Code can also scrutinize our choices and persuade us to change our behavior. A smart fridge that monitors our eating habits, shaming our guilty pleasures, might lead us to abandon our late-night snacking routine. And code, of course, can shape our perception of the world. Search engines and algorithmic newsfeeds control the flow of information, determining what we see and know.

More here.