Technology promises to increase our access to knowledge and make the world more transparent, undermining ignorance and superstition. At least, that’s what we are told. But it sometimes feels like we have entered a new dark age, in which our lives play out amid a profusion of black boxes…

A black box is a unit of software or hardware that interacts entirely through its interface (a screen, keyboard, voice activated system, and so on). What happens inside it is veiled in shadow. Users of black boxes only partially understand how they work, but can easily observe their effects in the world. Coming to terms with these effects is a strange experience.

As we make our way through a landscape of inscrutable machines (and the life they make for us) we attempt to deal with them through incommensurate means–projecting wishes, insecurities, and analogies of what they might be onto them.

Ours is a culture obsessed with the unseen, the inaccessible, the known-unknown that hides in plain sight…

the open secret.

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