The Drive for Perfection: A Precursor for Algorithmic Authoritarianism.


We are on the forefront of inevitable impacts already tangible worldwide of how technology is shaping our future. The article is addressing this through speculative reasoning and postulation through observations of robotic and algorithmic driven art installations. The aspiration for technological perfection and the ambition to eliminate mistakes has a lesser understood dark side.

I pose the term “machine-fascism”, which relates to an attitude and a general culture of dismissing criticism as irrelevant negative obstacles or simply as trivial neglectable scorn, towards an evolution of technology. This lack of criticism results increasingly in rendering technological inventions emotionless and pushing it into a dehumanized level of perfection. Umberto Eco described 14 characteristics to help identifying fascism in authoritarian regimes (Eco, 2010, pp. 65–88). At least 6 of those can be recognized to a certain degree in interpreting the mechanisms of how technologies are advancing as will be addressed in the article. Seemingly innocent strive for perfection is usually considered as an admirable ambition that can be explained through a different vista, as inherently problematic at its core as it undermines patterns of natural evolutionary processes. When technology was predominantly an exercise in mechanics it could be considered a benign aspect of progress. This caused hardly ramifications other than a projected level of quality. However, the shifting focus towards inter-connectivity in a networked society should be reevaluated in the light of increased algorithmic independence resulting in machine authority and automatized decision making. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) are pushing boundaries of automatized systems that are increasingly impose elevated levels of control over each and everyone’s lives. Reflecting possible impacts of this new form of authority is essential to investigate, before we as a society, handover mechanism of control. A further point of interest is how governments are getting seduced by start-up companies developing AI and its specific application into tools of control. How these algorithmic processes affect aspects of human rights, democracy, distribution of power and civilization as a whole are not fully understood yet, but indications reveal that erosion of certain freedoms and rights are already occurring. The article is using speculative reasoning as methodology, as it is not possible to measure presumed future consequences this implementation of rapid developing technologies seems to enforce. However, we can already identify how this tech consolidates authoritarian regimes worldwide and how it invokes media manipulation, resulting in electoral subterfuge and a deluge of other unforeseeable implications undermining the freedom of one’s own thoughts and ultimately one’s mind.

Eco, U. (2010). Five Moral Pieces. Vintage Books.