Humans want to be contained: a report written by an algorithm


Humans want to be contained: a report written by an algorithm

The beauty of data is that, once you have an inordinate amount of it, you can unleash your algorithms on it and see what palpitating bits they bring you back, clasped in their mouths. That's exactly what we did with one of our most finely optimised algorithms and here's what it wrote about the human need for containment.

After analysing 340,874 images of pavements, roads and other man-made surfaces and cross-referencing them with a combination of indicators such as per capita wealth of the country where the image originates and correlation of wars and natural disasters, it appears that humans, having enough resources and circumstantial fortune, tend to cover and seal every surface they tread on, as well as other surfaces in their surroundings.

This in turn correlates with a preference for other kinds of sealing: facial sealing (see: make-up and cosmetics), fresh produce sealing (see: rocketing cling film sales, redundant packaging), house sealing (see: excessive insulation and sick building syndrome) and social sealing (see: Facebook post embellishment).

Human evolution hasn't eliminated some of the basic principles in the life of an amoeba: 1) Keep your outer containment continuous and impervious; 2) Your membrane is your identity: don't listen to siren songs suggesting to open up - special offer now! ; 3) the best way to keep your mouth shut is not to have one and discover big enlargement XXX.

Sorry about that last bit. No data trawler such as our algorithm can avoid getting some trash mixed in, but the overall picture is clear: we want containment and surface perfection, physical and digital. 

We want to upload ourselves safely and beautifully every day, we want to contribute to the towering edifice of Big Data and feel conveniently stored, safe from oblivion and malware, every megabyte stating and ratifying our existence.