— Renée Hann (@rennhann) March 22, 2017
In the article Cathy tweeted, ‘Predictive Analytics: Nudging, Shoving, and Smacking Behaviors in Higher Education’, there is the suggestion that HE institutions could use the wide net of data points they collect to ‘nudge’ students and improve student outcomes. Regardless of the intentions, I find it all a bit sickening, to be honest: ‘Nudging, used wisely, offers a promising opportunity to redirect students’ decisions’/’With predictive analytics, colleges and universities are able to “nudge” individuals toward making better decisions and exercising rational behavior to enhance their probabilities of success.’ How efficient everything will be once those pesky irrational decisions are eradicated.. and we all behave in the same, well-policed manner. Heck, we won’t even need robots then..
It made me think of this video –
A focus on ‘rational’ decision-making doesn’t just make me (so. very. utterly.) mad because of the restrictions to free will that it could imply. Throughout history, people (women, people of colour, less-abled people) have been denied access to political process and justice due to not being considered capable of ‘rational’ thought. Who decides what is rational? Based on what values? Any kind of system which encourages (or enforces) any particular way of thinking needs to be accountable, and we – society – need to be able to influence the values underpinning the system.
This, of course, goes full-circle, and links back to Rahwan’s (2016) ideas about putting ‘society-in-the-loop’ of algorithmic governance, and to the ethical concerns associated with technologies that grew out of our cyber cultures block (discussed, for example, in an earlier blog post on the political beliefs of various transhumanist positions).