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Joy of Coding
June 17th, 2022 - De Doelen, Rotterdam

Social Cooling

How Big Data is increasing pressure to conform

What does it mean to be free in a world where surveillance is the dominant business model? More and more people are starting to realize that databrokers (a 200 billion dollar industry) are turning our data-trail into thousands of scores.

This ‘digital reputation’ is starting to strongly effect our lives, influencing our chances to get a job, a cheap loan or even a nice date. As awareness spreads people are changing their behavior; studies show an increase in self-censorship and a growing culture of risk-aversion.

For example, we see students not partying as hard. We see people not clicking on links because they think “someone” might record that visit, and it could ‘look bad’. We see doctors hesitating to operate on difficult diseases because a death will affect their score. In 2020 all Chinese citizens will receive a ‘social credit score’ that basically reflects how well behaved they are.

As oil lead to Global Warming, data leads to Social Cooling. Comparing these two problems is not just intended as a warning. It offers hope, a blueprint for how to deal with this issue, and a deeper understanding of what it means to be human in our data-driven world.

Tijmen Schep

Tijmen Schep is a technology critic, privacy designer and public speaker focussing ethical innovation. As a critic, his goal is to help a wider audience develop nuanced understanding of technological questions that face society. He coined the term “Social Cooling” to describe the data-driven chilling effects that can occur as we move from an information society to a “reputation economy”.

As a designer he helps develop privacy enhancing technologies. His book “Design my Privacy” is used by universities of applied design across the Netherlands and Germany. His work on Candle, a privacy friendly smart home prototype, won him a Dutch Privacy Award.

In 2010 he co-founded SETUP, a Dutch non-profit whose projects use humor to explain data-issues to a wider audience. His work has been presented at TEDx, SXSW, CNN, ABC, The Guardian and numerous other platforms.