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Max Antonucci

Journalist turned full-time coder, part-time ponderer.

October 12, 2019

A common definition of freedom is being able to make your own decisions, instead of an authority making them for you. But is that enough to be free?

What if people knew so much about you, had enough data about you on enough topics, that they could control your decisions? They'd know just what buttons to press and what options to present for you to make the decision they wanted. If you didn't know they were setting you up to make the decision they wanted, are you still free?

Realistically, they likely couldn’t get enough data to control you completely. But let's assume they only gathered enough data to control you about 50% of the time. You're still 50% less free than before, so are you really still free? What percentage of freedom still counts as "free?"

This doesn’t even consider that groups could change your data without you knowing. The potential effects it has on your life paths and possibilites are huge. The reasons could range from malicious to accidental - regardless, you'd still have no control.

But it shows the more data is gathered about us, the more our "freedom" is at risk.