Talk on Digital Counter-Enlightenment, Surveillance by Design, and Collective Data Protection at Geoinformatics Forum, Universität Münster

Tuesday January 21, 2020, 12:15–13:00,
Universität Münster, Institute for Geoinformatics, Heisenbergstraße 2, 48149 Münster.

Title: „Digital Counter-Enlightenment and “Surveillance by Design”: On Nudging, Tracking and Data Aggregation in Human-Computer Interaction“

Abstract: In this talk I will analyze modern human-computer interaction to discuss the question of enlightenment and counter-enlightenment in the digital age. I will focus on the field of “User Experience Design”, a dominant IT discourse that uses insights from behavioral sciences and data-driven evaluation techniques to optimize user interfaces and interaction designs. We will have a closer look at various “design tricks” that nudge users to expose more of their data online, often without explicit knowledge. I will discuss how this data is used to predict user behavior and target users according to their cognitive, behavioral or emotional dispositions. This leads to the diagnosis of “digitale Entmündigung”, or digital counter-enlightenment, which describes a set of systematic aspirations of big industrial players to deprive users of their (cognitive and epistemic) means to make self-determined, knowledgeable and responsible use of technology. With respect to data protection and privacy debates, I will point to the political problem of mass aggregation of data and argue that this problem exists even if the data is anonymous or de-identified.

Research Papers / Backgroud Information: