ANKARA, Turkey (ViaNews) – Zeynep Tufekci is a Turkish writer and a self-described “Techno-sociologist” writing about the influence of technology on politics and society.

In April this year, the Yale University Press published her book entitled: Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest. She describes the book as a “quasi-historical account of some 21st-century mass protests, but also engages theories social movements, public sphere and technology.”

Tufekci has previously worked as a computer programmer, concentrating on the social influence of technology and contemplated how machine intelligence, algorithmic decision making, digital and computational technology interact with social, political and cultural dynamics. In fact, she does have a TED talk on how “Machine Intelligence Makes Human Morals More Important”.

Zeynep Tufekci works as an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She is also a faculty associate at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society and was previously a fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. To top that, she’s without surprise, an Op-Ed at the NY Times.

When examining Tufekci’s research on technology and society, common junction points are easy to spot. Her knowledge and academic work revolve around social studies and political sciences, privacy and surveillance, and social interaction.

In her latest book, Tufekci tells us a techno-sociological memoir from personal experience. It begins with her witnessing the evolution of the early global social movement of the Internet in 1997, with a group rebel group named the Zapatistas of the southern Mexican highlands. She goes further by mentioning the Seattle protests in which she describes as “the earliest manifestations of an emerging, networked global movement”.

Tufekci is not just a computer programmer or a big data scientist but also a significant activist. You can find out about her experience with tear gas, as well as her view on protestors’ massively effective social media use at the Gezi protests of Turkey.

Quoting from the preface of the book, she states that: “…I had come to understand the historical transition I was witnessing as part of a broad shift in how social movements operate and how they are opposed by those in power. This is a story not only about technology but also about long-standing trends in culture, politics, and civics in many protest movements that converged with more recent technological affordances…”

Internet Ads

About Internet ads and YouTube’s beyond predictive video choice according to one’s watching history, Tufekci further assumes that:

“The algorithm has figured out that if you can entice people into thinking that you can show them something more hardcore they’re more likely to stay on the site, watching video after video, going down that rabbit hole while Google serves them ads.”

Artificial Intelligence

Her latest TED speech explains a lot in terms of the capability of AI and machine learning. She states that the correct dystopia for the 21st century is not Orwell’s 1984 but:
“What we need to fear most is not what artificial intelligence will do to us on its own, but how people in power will use artificial intelligence to control and manipulate us.”


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