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Your dark side - The (Algo)rhythm of the Unconscious II

Key Visual Feuill-IT-ong

Algorithms were supposedly created to protect us humans from the misery of searching for what is right for us. However, they harbour a dark secret.

by Strigalt von Entf*

Strigalt von Entf

Previously on the "Feuill-IT-on":

The brilliant, but notoriously underestimated wordsmith Strigalt took on the omnipresent and all-knowing algorithm of the big film and series streaming services. He profoundly analysed the parallel, albeit temporally displaced anthropology of Homo sapiens on the one hand and its film and series consumption on the other. The algorithm, which presents itself as an omniscient oracle, is unmasked as a charlatan that only pretends to the compliant user that they want what they are offered. But is that all, or is there more to it?

What is really behind this number golem, formed from mathematical signs and symbols, supposedly brought into being for the purpose of protecting us humans from the misery of searching for the right programme? Is it really labouring for our good? And on whose behalf is it acting?

"Simple!", you are now surely thinking: "Hollywood! Silicon Valley! Wall Street!" The big tech companies, the dream factory, they naturally want to force their products on us. That simple? No, my loyal readers, not doubting your otherwise razor-sharp intellect, I must prove you wrong. No, the aforementioned ultimately don't care which series you watch while undermining the structural integrity of your couch cushion. Contrary to old promises that streaming would guarantee consistent series that would continue as long as you watched them, the exact opposite is the case. Very few series make it to the third season, while three new ones are already pushing their pilots chummily into the "New on Netflix!" windows. No matter, people will follow something or other until the three times three follow-up pilots are filmed.

The big tech companies, the dream factory, they naturally want to force their products on us. That easy? No.

No, the algorithm, seemingly just a series of mathematical operations, is much more than that, goes much deeper – and is closer to you than you think. SPOILER ALERT: Here now follows the announcement of a plot twist that can easily rival "The 6th Sense", "The Empire Strikes Back" or "Oedipus"! Nevertheless, read on, because nowhere else will you learn the following:

YOU are the algorithm!
(Dramatic pause)
(Heartbeat)

Yes, you yourself. Or rather, a part of you. It is, so to speak, your Tyler Durden, who suddenly sits next to you on the plane with a suitcase of soap on his lap (warning, that was another spoiler). The forefather of psychology, Sigmund Freud, divided the human soul into three instances: The ego, the helmsman or helmswoman, so to speak, decides, determines, has to weigh things up. It is the instance that we perceive as our personality. But this "I" is constantly influenced by two other forces. For example, there is the "id". This is not a dark spider clown living in the sewers (warning: spoiler). It is our baser urges, controlled by the desire for pleasure.

The id wants everything that serves short-term pleasure, the satisfaction of needs, taking little account of the future, not asking whether it is wise. In the end, astonished deep-analysed, the algorithm is only the numerical manifestation of this: one more sequence, on and on, on and on. And more. And id knows exactly what to satisfy us with, what we want to see. More drama, more character development, more metaphilosophical hints in our series – and yes, don't forget the carnality: when we've seen a series around the elegance, grace and passion of the tango, we need even more rhythmic, even more voluptuous dancing in the next series.

In the end, astonished deep-analysed, the algorithm is only the numerical manifestation of this: one more sequence, on and on, on and on. And more. And id knows exactly what to satisfy us with, what we want to see.

We give in to it because, well, we are all weak, but it's not just us. The balancing part that brings spiritual homeostasis is missing: the super-ego. The instance of morality, of goodness, of foresight. Where, dearest readers, where is the algorithm that not only feeds us what we unhesitatingly stuff into ourselves, but that consciously shows us our gaps in education and closes them? Where the algorithm that reminds us that it is now enough TV time? Where the algorithm that alerts us to the fact that we should at least take out the rubbish before we enter the unchaste clutches of the next episode? Where is the algorithm that asks us to gently turn to our partner and ask them about the ups and downs of the day instead of accompanying fictional series characters in their ups and downs?

That would be real artificial intelligence instead of artificial drive control.

That, dear sense-seekers, that would be real artificial intelligence instead of artificial drive control. When, dear streaming services, will this be? Then I will gladly think about finally getting my own subscription.

In adoration,
Strigalt from Entf

The Format

*Our "Feuill-IT-ong" format is created in collaboration with the two freelance writers Tobias Lauterbach und Daniel Al-Kabbani who occasionally contribute to the satire platform "Der Postillon". Under the pseudonym Strigalt von Entf, they report on current events from the world of technology – always with a wink! ;-)

More drama, more articles by Strigalt von Entf:

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"Adieu, IE!" – End of a cultural asset
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