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Proud Canadians, not Data Points


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Heaps of data about us are influencing more decisions effecting us than we are. Many of those decisions are political. That’s not good. The information is too often of questionable origin and is collected in questionable ways. Data is always collected from a point of view, it is always analyzed from a point of view and piled together it doesn’t represent any Canadian or collection of Canadians. We are not items on neatly ordered shelves in a warehouse. We are not data points, we are fully human, fully alive and should be treated as such. We should understand ourselves as such. Our first reaction shouldn’t be ‘there’s nothing I can do’. We can stop saying that for starters.

AI works in stock management; for infinitely complex things such as life and the politics it generates it’s not up to much. It has no imagination, just data and algorithms programmed by humans with a mandate. Data isn’t real, it’s an alphanumeric representation of reality in the way a plastic banana is representative. When anyone treats you as a widget, stand up and prove them wrong.

There is an election looming, this is our big role. It’s our opportunity to prove we are someone, not something.

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What data are collected and for what reasons are important questions.   How the data is interpreted and what to do in response are also important questions.  The important thing is that we ask the best questions and drive our policy using the data.  However, what we choose to learn and how we address our findings is driven by more complex factors such as ideology and belief.  It’s unavoidable because we are human and able to ask why we do what we do.  It gets into questions of moral purpose and ethics.  People’s beliefs about many matters can vary widely as a result, often no matter what the data tells us.  

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