Karl Eychenne: “With the infernal big data-machine learning couple, we are becoming more readable, more predictable, and dumber too”

Tribune. The fantasy of the “naked” man is on the way to come true. Our choices, our desires, our personalities, now boil down to a few character traits. A boon for those who rank and compare. A nightmare for those deemed undesirable because they are misshapen or unfit.

In the beginning, everything starts with a good intention. It is about putting a little order in our preferences, our emotions, our impulses. Because, it is well known, we are confused and ignorant, and therefore our choices, our decisions, resemble us.

Psychology first took hold of the subject, quickly relayed by economics, then neurosciences, to deliver a rather distressing message to us. Our personalities, however complex they may be, would boil down to just a few character traits, just as Euclid’s geometry boils down to a few axioms.

So we are more or less open-minded, conscientious, extroverted, kind, neurotic. Five character traits only (« Big Five personality traits », Christopher Soto, in “The SAGE encyclopedia of lifespan human development”, 2018) which would explain a bit of everything: relationships with those close to us, our professional career, our ambitions, and other daily decisions.

So here we are naked

These only five character traits would therefore compete with the famous IQ (innate capital), studies (acquired capital), and any other theory of a human capital (Gary Becker, Nobel Prize for Economics in 1992), to explain our actions.

So, does mediocrity hail us? Are we promised insufficiency? Will we all become Oblomovs, Diogenes, or other Bartlebys, those unwanted people of the working world?

Economics are then enlightened from a new prism (« Some contributions of economics to the study of personality », James Heckman, Thomas Jagelka, Tim Kautz, IZA, 2019), and the traditional “risk aversion” and “preference for the present” would henceforth be expressed by a certain dose of neuroticism and low openness …

Better yet, we say to ourselves that the key to the “Big Five” could open many other doors: our cultural and sexual preferences, our type of humor, the anguish of death (« The light vs. dark triad of personality : contrasting two very different profiles of human nature », Scott Kaufman, David Yaden, Elizabeth Hyde, Eli Tsukayama, « Frontiers of Psychology », 2019)…

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So here we are laid bare. Those whose mission is to find the rare pearl, the efficient, versatile, innovative and also ductile employee, did not ask for so much. Now they are able to pull the worms out of your nose “without knowing your own accord”: they will thus be very sensitive to your degree of friendliness, “conscientiousness” and extraversion, and rather showers at your neurotic level. , since these traits have been shown to influence performance (« Personality traits and their validity in predicting job performance at recruitment : a review », Osama Alhendi, « International Journal of Engineering and Management Sciences » n° 4, 2019).

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Karl Eychenne: “With the infernal big data-machine learning couple, we are becoming more readable, more predictable, and dumber too”

The Inside News Hyderabad