German economist Hannes Grassegger argues that each of us live compositely, our lives are perforated both physically and in the digital realm. By sharing ourselves online he asks questions such as ‘who are we sharing ourselves with, who is this of value to, and what happens when all our desires and expectations of desires can be anticipated through algorithms?’ These questions are becoming more pertinent as more and more aspects of our personality can be satisfied online from our purchasing habits to our sexual relationships to our interests and curiosities. In our lack of awareness we hand over such information to third party companies not realising the mind boggling value that such info has to such companies. Grassegger argues that we are capital, that our information is of enormous value but we open up the future possibility of committing ourselves to digital slavery by openly handing over ourselves to such third party companies.
“Today “going online” is no longer a choice or a potentiality, but rather a necessary condition of existence. It is essential. Part of me. I spend at least half of my time online: both professionally and privately. As Artie Vierkant recently said, we live in a “post-internet”reality. The internet is not a separate realm anymore, it’s become an integral part of life. My identity remains unified, but it’s become partially digital. We’re made of atoms and of bits. The internet is the externalization of my inner world. And this inner world is clearly linked to the rest of me.”
“Personal information is a scarce commodity. Each individual creates his or her own set of data—a signature, like on a painting. A unique expression of personality. We are flesh made data. This is precisely the goal of all the analysis and algorithms: you. The knowledge of your innermost desires and needs. And if personal data is the raw material of the 21st century, woe betide us if we allow the new data mining companies to drill and explore us in the same ruthless way the miners of past ages have ravaged the land.”