Computational Propaganda: The Impact of Algorithms and Automation on Publi...
Philip N. Howard
Statutory Professor of Internet Studies
Oxford Internet Institute
Senior Fellow, Balliol College
The Internet certainly disrupted our understanding of what communication can be, who does it, how, and to what effect. What constitutes the Internet has always been an evolving suite of technologies and a dynamic set of social norms, rules, and patterns of use. But the shape and character of digital communications are shifting again—the browser is no longer the primary means by which most people encounter information infrastructure. The bulk of digital communications are no longer between people but between devices, about people, over the Internet of things. Political actors make use of technological proxies in the form of proprietary algorithms and semi-automated social actors—political bots—in subtle attempts to manipulate public opinion. These tools are scaffolding for human control, but the way they work to afford such control over interaction and organization can be unpredictable, even to those who build them. So to understand contemporary political communication—and modern communication broadly—we must now investigate the politics of algorithms and automation
Philip N. Howard is a statutory Professor of Internet Studies at the Oxford Internet Institute and a Senior Fellow at Balliol College at the University of Oxford. He has published eight books and over 100 academic articles and public essays on information technology, international affairs and public life. Howard’s books include The Managed Citizen (Cambridge, 2006), the Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Oxford, 2010), and most recently Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up (Yale, 2015). He blogs at www.philhoward.org and tweets from @pnhoward.