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Examining the Modern Co-Evolution of Algorithms, Politics and Startups

The digital age is shaping our reality far more than anyone could have expected. At first glance, it might seem bold to say that it has a direct impact on how we live our lives, but all the recent major political events testify to it. So, it is true.

All the data that’s out there in the digital world has a tremendous effect on how public opinions will be formed, which again has a major impact on the outcome of referendums and even elections. Recent elections in the US and Brexit are great examples.

In an age where more than half of the Earth’s population has Internet access, and where most of the news and information about politics gets shared on social networks, a recent article published on the London School of Economics and Political Science blog, written by Alison Powell, explains the correlation between accountability, algorithms, and politics.

As stated, social analytics became a science, and the algorithms used to go through the data and combine elements to be placed on each of our screens are very powerful factors that have the a potency to shape our lives. According to this, the responsibility of social media companies around the globe is huge.

What algorithms actually do is process all the news stories, relevant information, people’s posts, and various other social media content and then combine this on social media newsfeeds. So, in other worlds, algorithms present the world to us.

Another important aspect that makes algorithms more accurate is that they take into account the emotional response. Combine several different algorithms and there it is, a perfect recipe to present information and news.

The potency of social media advertising and maintaining a consistent online presence was not only recognized by politicians, but also by the entire business world. Outsourcing projects related to data management, research, and analytics became the new trend in the business world, as well during election campaigns.

Estimating the results and establishing where efforts have to be made in order to achieve better results become something easily achievable with the right analytics tool. This is why we are witnessing so many startups emerging in the analytics industry.

Up until now, it wasn’t that hard to establish the connection between algorithms and politics, and algorithms and outsourcing companies. But, of course, this is not the end. A new government means new politics and new regulations, and all of these have an effect on all of us. Why would be startups be any different?

Startups operate in the legislative and regulatory environment, and they are very sensitive to even the slightest of changes. An interesting situation is when emerging technologies used by some of the startups outgrow the legislative and regulatory system. In that case, an “old” system and its rules don’t even remotely apply to the fresh startups. Sadly, in most cases, governments respond to this by voting in new laws and regulations that do more harm than good. In some very rare cases, governments acknowledge startups and encourage their growth.

These startups that use new technologies to provide or facilitate their services are usually in the legislative grey area, even when it comes to tax laws. It seems that it is the startups’ responsibility to work respecting the laws and regulations, which means that startups have to make an extra effort to wear the white hat until the government recognizes the new needs and respond to them accordingly.

Needless to say that most of those new regulations seem to be more like patches than new laws that define in-depth regulations for all the events surrounding the usage of emerging technologies.

Can the algorithms be tuned to raise the awareness of this issues surrounding new startups? Or are they only suitable for distributing the news that will increase sales for large corporations or bring more votes for political parties? Will the governments find the will to form special regulatory bodies which will only take care of laws and regulations for the startup industry? The only thing that is certain is that there are only going to be more startups opening each year, since technology and software are advancing rapidly.

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Examining the Modern Co-Evolution of Algorithms, Politics and Startups
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