Leistungen // Laterales Management

trump's victory thanks to psychometrics?

It started in 1987 with a music festival in Austin, Texas. 700 came together to listen to pop music. The Festival South by Southwest (SXSW) is still going but what attracts the most attention is conferences and specialist exhibitions because that is where the forward thinkers and visionaries in the international technology and start-up scene hang out.

That's where people talk about artificial intelligence and virtual reality. There is discussion about the important developments in the coming years. And they weigh up what has been achieved so far with IT. It's an important venue for Apple, Google & Co. to engage in the debate. After all, this is where the very topics are discussed that will be an important focus in politics, economics and society in the coming years.

In spring 2016 many participants were probably not aware of how current their discussions and debates actually were. It was about morals and the use of data by internet companies, it was about the state and parties. For SXSW visitors the answer was clear. In a survey of festival organisers 61% of those questioned said: When it comes to problems in society they have more trust in technical solutions than in politics.

Facebook posts and likes determine personality

Representatives of internet companies threw themselves behind Tim Cook who declared on behalf of Apple that they would not go along with an exchange of data between the US government and technology companies.

After the US presidential campaign a claim emerged that the new president had won the swing states because targeted advertising had been sent to voters via Facebook.

Behind this is the unchallenged claim made by the Cambridge Analytica Chief Alexander Nix that psychograms had been produced for all adult US citizens (220 million people). Profiles on this scale may exist – the company emphasises that it also accesses off-line data. The question is only how accurate they can be. This relatively data-rich method whereby a personality is determined on the basis of Facebook posts and likes is controversial. There is also the fact that the company's method evidently produces results that differ from research.

Psychometrics is a scientific discipline that has to be taken seriously

This company is said to have advised the campaign office of the conservative contester – and the chief strategist there claims that it was successful. The debate had probably gone further than that in Austin and further than many technophiles would have liked.

In the meantime psychometrics has become a scientific discipline that has to be taken seriously even if many people do not want to acknowledge this. The Cambridge team also then didn't hesitate to offer their support to the German parties for 2017. We will see who takes it up. The betting is on. One of the founders of media science, Marshall McLuhan, comments: Culture is everything that actually gets done!