Machine logic: our lives are ruled by big tech’s ‘decisions by data’

Aiming at population-level predictive gambles, they filter who and what counts – including who is released from jail and the news that you see, researchers warn

In the early 1970s, Hannah Arendt wrote a devastating critique of the Pentagon’s Vietnam-era penchant for policy by counting. “The problem-solvers did not judge,” she wrote. “They calculated.”

Exuding the spirit of gamblers rather than statesmen, the decision-makers played “the percentage game”, counting whatever could be counted and ignoring the rest, or the underlying problems, with “an utterly irrational confidence in the calculability of reality”.

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VW California Ocean campervan review: ‘This van is amazing’

We spent a mind-bending amount of time just playing. It was like being an incredibly spoilt womanchild with a doll’s house

The fundamental question about a car (who would buy this, ahead of any other car?) is already answered by the VW California Ocean. This is for people who want to camp in their van. All those existential questions, like “If you want a shower and a cooker and a kettle and a sofa and a bed, why not stay in a building instead?” we just have to park, which will be easier to park than the California. Ours is not to interrogate camping in principle: only in practice.

Especially if you’re eight, but even when you’re 43, the sudden acres of space at the push of buttons blow your mind. The controls are very intuitive, and the showstopper is the roof: make sure the ignition is on, the van is not moving (that bit is crucial), the windows are open, the tap is not running (just because it makes a distracting noise), you are not having a shower, the side door is open (unless you listened to me about the windows) and press the central button. The roof pops open like a clam shell. The top bed is gigantic. A small amount of jigging joins the passenger seats into a bench behind and a second double bed emerges. They are actually not as large as I thought: I thought I could sleep on the bottom with two children. When this didn’t work, it set in train an epic, childhood-defining row over which kid I would choose, which ended with me sulking in the driver’s seat like a dad in a 1960s cartoon strip.

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