Unseen University


by Ty Myrddin

Published on April 22, 2021

Panopticon plan

Social theorist Jeremy Bentham’s original projection for a panoptic prison, made it so a prisoner never knew if he was being watched. A circular prison with a single guard tower in the middle was the original blueprint for the structure.

It seems we have created some heterarchical form of panopticon on the internet, where just about everybody is spying on everybody else from behind sunglasses and masks. In particular big data corporations and nation states seem very busy with that, in very organised and automated ways. Hack-all-around-you, surveillance, and de-anonymisation seem to have become common practice (and competition).

  • Machine learning (ML) is a key component in technologies such as predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. The Computer seems to be running the show.
  • Most of the current AI offerings on the market can identify associations in large quantities of data, but can not work out complex phenomena of cause and effect or identify modifiable factors that can engender desired outcomes. Yet. I don’t know what is more dangerous, a world run by Black Rock’s Aladdin-like machines as if they can, or development of machines that actually can and then making ourselves dependent on these even more.
  • ML is used to review large volumes of data and identify patterns and trends. An error, for example a faulty sensor generating a flawed data set, can cause rippling effects within a machine learning interface, because events after the error may be flawed, skewed or just plain undesirable. Errors do occur, and it is a susceptibility that developers have thus far been unable to premeditate and negate consistently. Imagine, if people were to rely on these patterns and trends?!?

Raw magic crackled from their spines, earthing itself harmlessly in the copper rails nailed to every shelf for that very purpose. Faint traceries of blue fire crawled across the bookcases and there was a sound, a papery whispering, such as might come from a colony of roosting starlings. In the silence of the night the books talked to one another. A student