The Age of Profilicity and Identity Politics with Hans-Georg Moeller and Sam Gilbert - Episode 5

The Age of Profilicity and Identity Politics with Hans-Georg Moeller and Sam Gilbert - Episode 5

The Age of Profilicity and Identity Politics with Hans-Georg Moeller and Sam Gilbert - Episode 5

The Age of Profilicity and Identity Politics with Hans-Georg Moeller and Sam Gilbert - Episode 5

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Is the huge variety of social platforms and settings in which we present ourselves creating a multiplicity of our identities, demanding that we moderate our personalities? And is that such a bad thing?

From the Chinese philosophy suggesting that sincerity trumps authenticity, to the future technologies ushering in an era of profilicity, the norms that surround identity are changing during our lifetime.

Joining me to help foresee where our technology of identity is heading - in this truly international episode - are Hans-Georg Moeller, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Macau, and Sam Gilbert, an Affiliated Researcher with the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge.

This episode of The Future of You covers:

  • Use of data to create a picture of someone’s identity, and how that could be used for wider public benefit
  • The multiplicity of identity through social media sites with different norms and expectation
  • A modern sense of profilicity, and how that links with ancient Chinese philosophies
  • How AI might allow us to curate identity in a new way with a novel sense of self-insight
  • The need to leave authenticity behind in favour of situational sincerity

This episode does contain a brief discussion eluding to self-harm, suicide, and how we might use data to identify those in need. If you or somebody you know is in need, Samaritans are available by phoning 116 123.

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Hans-Georg Moeller

You and Your Profile by Hans-Georg Moeller and Paul J. D'Ambrosio

Sam Gilbert

Good Data by Sam Gilbert

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The Future of You: Can Your Identity Survive 21st Century Technology?:

Episode highlights

“What's been so interesting in the last 10 years is the way that a very different understanding of identity has emerged in public conversation. So particularly younger people will talk about identity as being a very important mode of self expression.” - 8:30 - Sam Gilbert

“It does seem like the fact that there are now so many different social networking services that we need to use as part of our daily life has led to the creation of a multiplicity of new norms and expectations. So we end up having to moderate or edit the way in which we appear, in order to conform to the norms that exist in those different contexts.” - 13:05 - Sam Gilbert

“I should make a bit of a distinction, which is between using search data at an aggregate level to reveal things about society or about large groups, which is the area that I'm predominantly interested in, and a different thing that would be revealed by that search data if you were to look at the searches that a specific individual has made.” - 15:45 - Sam Gilbert

“All we're really seeing and all that we're really interested in is the correlation. We have certain phenomena and then we sort of speak divine by establishing a correlation to something that seems to be entirely unrelated. Of course, that works much better than old age divination, but the rationality behind it is basically the same.” - 19:45 - Hans-Georg Moeller

“Autonomy means self-law-giving, which means you don't follow the laws that anyone else has given you. That means you're not under control of someone else. But this idea was a scandalous thing at the time, because it would break religious ideas, right?” - 30:50 - Hans-Georg Moeller

“For me, one way of looking at those AI-powered services was that they dispensed with the old idea that I am a rational autonomous chooser, who can directly make choices about the things in my life. It seems to engage more honestly with the very complex reality, and the unknowability of what the correct choices are for us in the world that we currently live in.” - 38:20 - Sam Gilbert

“According to Chinese philosophy,it's an art whenever you’re with a different person. It's a different relationship, and you have to develop different personalities in order to make this relationship function very well. You can't act in the same way as a parent, as you act as a kid ” - 40:15 - Hans-Georg Moeller

“In the professional world, we have probably gone too far towards full authenticity. There are lots of people who have a set of expectations about how workplaces ought to operate. These are predicated on the idea of people being their ‘authentic selves’ at all times. What that translates to in practice is people behaving in a manner that in previous generations would have just been thought unprofessional. ” - 45:20 - Sam Gilbert

“I’m not a fan of identity politics, but I admit that, in order to have fun function as a human being and for society to function, there needs to be a certain form of pride. There also needs to be, as Sam already pointed out, a certain form of shame, which is kind of the opposite of it. But again, it's a very volatile thing.” - 51:15 - Hans-Georg Moeller

“I think if people can become more comfortable with the idea of allowing anonymized data about them to be put into the public domain, there's all kinds of benefits that we can get from that, particularly in the context of public health. I think we can do that with a much lower risk to the integrity of our identities, than we've probably become used to thinking about” - 1:08:25 - Sam Gilbert

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