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Big Data, Algorithmic Regulation, and the History of the Cybersyn Project in Chile, 1971–1973

Department of History, University of Cologne, 50923 Köln, Germany
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(4), 65;
Received: 21 December 2017 / Revised: 10 April 2018 / Accepted: 11 April 2018 / Published: 13 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Big Data and the Human and Social Sciences)
We are living in a data-driven society. Big Data and the Internet of Things are popular terms. Governments, universities and the private sector make great investments in collecting and storing data and also extracting new knowledge from these data banks. Technological enthusiasm runs throughout political discourses. “Algorithmic regulation” is defined as a form of data-driven governance. Big Data shall offer brand new opportunities in scientific research. At the same time, political criticism of data storage grows because of a lack of privacy protection and the centralization of data in the hands of governments and corporations. Calls for data-driven dynamic regulation have existed in the past. In Chile, cybernetic development led to the creation of Cybersyn, a computer system that was created to manage the socialist economy under the Allende government 1971–1973. My contribution will present this Cybersyn project created by Stafford Beer. Beer proposed the creation of a “liberty machine” in which expert knowledge would be grounded in data-guided policy. The paper will focus on the human–technological complex in society. The first section of the paper will discuss whether the political and social environment can completely change the attempts of algorithmic regulation. I will deal specifically with the development of technological knowledge in Chile, a postcolonial state, and the relationship between citizens and data storage in a socialist state. In a second section, I will examine the question of which measures can lessen the danger of data storage regarding privacy in a democratic society. Lastly, I will discuss how much data-driven governance is required for democracy and political participation. I will present a second case study: digital participatory budgeting (DPB) in Brazil. View Full-Text
Keywords: Cybersyn; human–technological complex; data-driven society; postcolonial history; socialism Cybersyn; human–technological complex; data-driven society; postcolonial history; socialism
MDPI and ACS Style

Loeber, K. Big Data, Algorithmic Regulation, and the History of the Cybersyn Project in Chile, 1971–1973. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 65.

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