Computer says No

Heidegger wrote about the dangers of a technological view of the world taking over. [1] The idea that we are in danger of becoming controlled by robots may seem crazy – the stuff of Science Fiction. But, no, it is really already happening. Here are two recent examples:

In recent days there has been a political scandal about how A-level grades will be awarded in the UK. Given that students did not take the exams because of Coronavirus some system needs to be found to come up with grades. The system the government and the exams regulator came up with used grades predicted by teachers and an algorithm based on the past performance of schools. Some students lost out and there was an outcry. (As a tangential comment we can note that the A level system is designed to grade people. Part of the outcry is misplaced; the system is bound to create losers however the numbers are diced. That is the main purpose of the system). Nonetheless – there is a chilling element to this. The grades were to have been created by an algorithm and not connected to individuals at all. This is a totally depersonalising algorithm. The maw of the machine. In the end the system was rejected. The algorithm was designed in a very crude way and apparently produced untenable results. But it was tried. Continue reading “Computer says No”