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Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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The age of algorithm

'Breaking one technological barrier after the other, our lives are in a constant state of change. So much is the impact of all this, that we today are the dwellers of a new age'

Human history, over time has evolved through different ages, famously referred to as the three-age system, namely, the stone age, the bronze age and the iron age.

These historic ages are actually titled on the prowess of the human beings to morph stones, bronze and then iron into weapons and tools considered essential for their survival. Last 500 hundred years or so of the iron age heralded revolutions, which have altered the very way of human life, forever. Although there are many descriptions of these technological revolutions, which keep doing rounds in our minds, broadly, mechanized production (water and steam based), mass production (electricity based) and automated production (electronics and information technology based) providing the basis of digital revolution of modern era, are three massive revolutions

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One unique aspect of digital revolution, which we are living through, is the fusion of technologies resulting into obsolescence of stand-alone ones. The phenomenon has led to at least blurring, if not diminishing, the lines that had divided reality and virtual reality. Breaking one technological barrier after the other, our lives are in a constant state of change. So much is the impact of all this, that we today are the dwellers of a new age.

“The Age of Algorithm” when analyzed, beyond ripples it creates on the surface, carries stealthy undercurrents. Contemporary intellectuals, thinkers and philosophers whose mindsets had evolved through era of much hyped human liberties stemming from free will of an individual, are now evaluating its effects on the same. Despite the fact that liberalism carries specific connotations for politics, economics and personal matters, the age of algorithm is now posing a challenge to all and sundry including the ingredients of free will namely; feelings, aspirations and choices.

Margaret Thatcher stated once, “There is no such thing as society, it is a living tapestry of men and women and the quality of our lives will depend on how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves”.

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The road to responsibility leads through the avenues of authority. And to exercise authority one has to be in control, isn’t it? The notion of deriving authority and control from divine laws for human authority first shifted to liberalism and today finds itself making way for algorithms. From the unbounded arena of divinity, our age seems to be encapsulating itself within the confines of logic and thus “The Age of Algorithm”. It is shifting for sure.

Under the garb of ease of access, quality of service (QoS) and the world on our finger tips, algorithms are staring down at us from cameras of our cell phones and the browsers of our operating systems. Once a tea time must haves, cookies, are now being dispensed from websites instead of bakeries. All not that yum, but still, we, like people with no specific taste, are clicking “I Accept” en masse.

It is not an exaggeration to state “Big Data” is in fact and effect the “eye in the sky” observing us. Making notes of our behaviors, taking into account our random browsing patterns generated from our feelings, aspirations or desires and foremost from our choices, the scientific evidence of which are the biochemical mechanisms at work at the backend.

With artificial intelligence, adding bite to algorithms, computers and devices, on the basis of big databases, are offering counsel, which humans are more willing to take. The spheres of life submitting, ranges from medicine, commerce, education, personal and home security and last but not the least recent phenomenon of “working from home” to name a few.

As defined at the start, that ages have been actually titled on the prowess of the human beings to morph stones, bronze and then iron into weapons and tools considered essential for their survival. And who says that “Age of Algorithm” is fangless in this aspect. “The fifth generation warfare” makes the exploits of this age the most potent weapon to neutralize the enemy without firing a bullet. It can bring down nations to their knees if modern day defense forces are not armed with cyber security means.

Today we are witnessing two giant leaps taken at the heels of each other, the biotech and the info-tech, merging together setting a mothball effect of big data to take place. With every day dawns the realization that what all now stands superfluous. How economy of effort and scales can be achieved in this age, costing much less. But what cost has this opportunity incurred upon us? We, like it or not, we have surrendered our liberties of feelings, desires and choices. Yes, ladies and gentleman let us put our hands together to applaud the outcomes of this “The Age of Algorithm”, as if, we got any other option. Have we? Seriously?

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