Incident 73: Is Pokémon Go racist? How the app may be redlining communities of color
Suggested citation format
CSET Taxonomy ClassificationsTaxonomy Details
In 2016, several sources demonstrated that augmented reality locations in Pokemon Go, a popular smartphone game, were more likely to be located in white neighborhoods. Aura Bogado, an environmental reporter, first noticed the bias in her Los Angeles neighborhood and, through a social media campaign that she launched, researchers and journalists replicated her results across the United States. The game creator Niantic Labs revealed that the Pokemon Go map was derived from a previous augmented reality game, Ingress. Ingress crowdsourced its map from users, who tended to be young, male, white, and English-speaking.
Through a crowdsourcing social media campaign in 2016, several journalists and researchers demonstrated that augmented reality locations in the popular smartphone game Pokemon Go were more likely to be in white neighborhoods.
Harm Distribution Basis
Race, National origin or immigrant status, Geography
Harm to social or political systems
AI System Description
Pokemon Go, an augmented reality smartphone game.
Sector of Deployment
Arts, entertainment and recreation
Relevant AI functions
procedural content generation
Pokemon Go, Niantic Labs, John Hanke, Aura Bogado, Ingress
user data from the game Ingress
Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag.Click here to view original GIF
In celebration of Pokémon's 20th birthday this past weekend, Nintendo re-released the original Red, Blue, and Yellow games as digital downloads through its online shop. In addition to finally giving players the chance transfer all 151 original pocket monsters to newer games, the updated RBY titles also feature slight updates to certain sprites.
Most of the games look basically the same, but one Pokémon in particular has left a few gamers puzzled: #124, Jynx, the "Human Shape" Pokémon. In a piece for Destructoid, writer Jonathan Holmes describes how Nintendo made the decision to "purplewash" Jynx who, in the original games, had black skin.
"It would be one thing if Jynx somehow bought into common negative racial stereotypes, but as a blonde haired ice witch who just happens to have features that many associate with folks hailing from Africa," Holmes argued. "I figure that Jynx's original look didn't do much to reinforce any particular idea about people (or Pokemon) with dark skin and pink lips."
Holmes is right to point out that Nintendo changed Jynx's color palette, but he's beyond wrong in his assertion that the gaming company's attempt at "political correctness" is somehow a bad thing.
When Jynx first appeared back in 1996, the Pokémon's color palette was limited to the black and white colors the Game Boy could actually render. Looking at Nintendo's official art, though, you could see that she (they're all female) had pitch black skin, bright blonde hair, and large, bulbous pink lips.
The exact origins of Jynx's design are unclear, but one of the character's most favorable interpretations connects her to the mythic Japanese Yama-uba, an icy ghost known for having long, white hair, a frayed red kimono, and dark, frost-bitten skin. In recent years, the Yama-uba legend has given birth to the Yamanba fashion aesthetic that incorporates a number of the ghost's hallmark aesthetics.
Fashion, like art, is subjective, but it isn't exactly difficult to see why Yamanba, and by extension, the look of the Yama-uba might be offensive to a Western audience. Put simply: the two bear a striking resemblance to what we might consider blackface. In order to achieve the distinctive Yamanba look, many people often apply copious amounts of brown concealer or foundation similar to the way that racially-insensitive people in the West sometimes do during Halloween season.
In her 2000 essay, "Politically Incorrect Pokémon" published in the now defunct Black World Today, writer Carole Boston Weatherford described the experience of taking her kids to see the first Pokémon movie and seeing Jynx for the first time. Though her children saw nothing wrong with the character, Weatherford described her as "an overweight drag queen incarnation of Little Black Sambo, a racist stereotype from a children's book long ago purged from libraries."
"Even Jynx's name—a variation on the term 'jinx,' which means a bearer of bad luck-has negative connotations," Weatherford wrote. "In addition, the name Jynx suggests a link with witch doctors and voodoo, practices rooted in African religion but often ridiculed by Western culture."
The problematic nature of Jynx's aesthetic is made that much worse when you take into account the Pokémon's unique traits. Most of Jynx's mannerisms and attacks revolve around concepts of love, sensuality, and attraction. What's more, a number of Pokédex entries use the same type of racist language historically used to describe black women as simple-minded, preternaturally sensual beings.
"It seductively wiggles its hips as it walks," the 1997 Pokémon Red Pokédex described. "It can cause people to dance in unison with it."
Pokémon Stadium, a follow-up Nintendo 64 game to the Pokémon series described Jynx as speaking in a "strange, incomprehensible language" and noting that the species "is known for its weird wiggling that causes people to dance."
Remember that Jynx, like all Pokémon, is only capable of saying its own name; its language shouldn't be any more incomprehensible than a Pikachu's. Later games describe Jynx's language as "[sounding] like human speech," while nothing that "it is impossible to tell what it is trying to say."
These descriptions all bear a striking resemblance to traditional racist characterizations of different African languages as being difficult to understand.
Months after Weatherford's article was published, the sequels to the original Pokémon games were released. In addition to over 100 new monsters to catch, the original 151 were given their first major update.
Jynx, for the first time ever, became purple instead of black. This was partially due to the fact that the new Gameboy Color had the ability to, you know, render colors, but it's also thought that Nintendo made the conscious choice. Similarly, Jynx's appearance in the Pokémon anime was also update
"Warning: Pokémon Go is a death sentence if you’re a black man," Omari Akil argued in an essay at Medium over the weekend.
It’s a startling, even extreme-sounding claim. How could a virally popular smartphone game featuring adorable Japanese cartoon characters possibly endanger the lives of black men?
RELATEDPokémon Go, explained
But Akil’s explanation makes a lot of sense, and it is incredibly sobering. Akil says he rushed to download the game and try it out but quickly realized that its "augmented reality" interface also replicates the systemic racial inequalities of our regular, un-augmented reality:
I spent less than 20 minutes outside. Five of those minutes were spent enjoying the game. One of those minutes I spent trying to look as pleasant and nonthreatening as possible as I walked past a somewhat visibly disturbed white woman on her way to the bus stop. I spent the other 14 minutes being distracted from the game by thoughts of the countless Black Men who have had the police called on them because they looked "suspicious" or wondering what a second amendment exercising individual might do if I walked past their window a 3rd or 4th time in search of a Jigglypuff.
Akil’s logic is simple: Black men are stopped more often by police for unusual or suspicious behavior. More police stops means a greater risk of violent interactions, and black men are disproportionately killed by police. Pokémon Go causes people to do unusual things in public spaces. Therefore, Pokémon Go poses a real risk to black men in America.
police shooting by race
A lot of people are making jokes about how the National Security Agency probably created Pokémon Go as a spy tool. Others are genuinely concerned about the potential ramifications for privacy and civil liberties:
And these concerns go double for populations that are already more heavily policed than others.
Another Pokémon Go user had a story about police and racial profiling in a viral post on Imgur. He said he’s a white man in his 40s who started bonding over Pokémon Go in a public park with two young black men — and was promptly questioned by police who thought they might be conducting a drug deal.
It ended happily, with the cop downloading the app himself. But it’s unsettling to think about how easily it could have gone the other way.
CLOSE There are more Pokéstops in majority white areas than in majority black areas, which could suggest digital redlining within the game.
Timi Ajiboye and Tobi Akinnubi use the Pokemon Go application at the University of Lagos. (Photo: Stefan Heunis, AFP/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO — While playing the popular augmented-reality game Pokémon Go in Long Beach, a city that is nearly 50% white, Aura Bogado made an unsettling discovery — there were far more PokéStops and Gyms, locations where people pick up virtual goods or battle one another, than in her predominantly minority neighborhood in Los Angeles.
So Bogado, who writes for environmental news outlet Grist, created the Twitter hashtag #mypokehood in July to crowdsource the locations of PokéStops. The results that poured in from across the county, and research from The Urban Institute think tank, bore out her experience.
South side of Chicago. Cus apparently the hood don't play. Or something #mypokehoodpic.twitter.com/GN9q9FPF7F — Team Mystic Thot (@SourceDuMal) July 18, 2016
Urban Institute researchers found an average of 55 PokéStops in majority white neighborhoods and 19 in majority black neighborhoods. The Belleville News-Democrat found that pattern repeated itself in African-American sections of Detroit, Miami and Chicago.
Similarly, New York boroughs Brooklyn and Queens, both of which have high numbers of Hispanic and black residents, had significantly fewer PokéStops than in Manhattan and white and Asian neighborhoods.
"It turns out Niantic, which makes Pokémon Go, relied on a map from a previous augmented reality game called Ingress, which was crowd-sourced from its mostly male, tech-savvy players," she wrote in a blog post. "The result is a high concentration of PokéStops in commercial and downtown areas of some cities, while there are typically fewer PokéStops in non-white or residential areas, if there are any at all."
According to data compiled by the Urban Institute, Gyms and PokeStops in the augmented-reality game Pokemon Go tend to appear more in white areas than in black and Latino ones. (Photo: Urban Institute)
The Urban Institute says the racial divides in the game amount to redlining — a term used when a community is cut off from essential services based on its racial or ethnic makeup.
The dearth of PokéStops and Gyms make it tougher for residents of these overlooked communities to participate in the game. They also lose the benefits to gamers that come with a multitude of virtual stops that dispense critical items for free such as Poké Balls, used to catch Pokémon, or egg incubators to grow new monsters.
“We now have a game where it looks like people who are already disadvantaged are playing it, now also are the more likely candidates who have to pay to play it,” Bogado said.
‘THIS IS NOT A NEW STORY'
This isn't the first time that structural inequities in the physical world have played out online.
Amazon's same-day delivery service Prime initially overlooked predominantly black and poor areas. Google's high-speed Internet service Fiber got dinged for doing the same.
“This is not a new story in terms of a product having some type of — whether intended or unintended — discriminatory effect,” says Safiya Umoja Noble, professor of information studies and African-American studies at UCLA.
Reinforcing these inequities on the digital plain has implications that go far beyond Pokémon Go, says Jeffrey Vagle, executive director of the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
“Yes, Pokémon Go is just another silly smartphone game. But through its popularity and usage patterns, we can see the very real boundaries of poverty and racism that continue to be reinforced when we should be using our technologies to dismantle them," he wrote in a blog post.
The makers of Pokémon Go — which was downloaded more times during its first week than any other app in App Store history — didn't deliberately set out to disadvantage certain communities.
Niantic CEO John Hanke told Rolling Stone that Pokémon Go uses the same locations for PokéStops as in its previous augmented-reality game, Ingress. In Ingress, players would submit locations based on where they wanted to put “portals,” or battle spots.
The problem: The demographics of Ingress players — mostly white, young and English-speaking, according to informal surveys of the community in 2013 and 2014 — shaped how the game unfurled in the real world.
Niantic spokesperson Chase Colasonno did not comment on the disparity of PokéStops and Gyms in predominantly black or white areas, but said in an email that the game is not yet processing user requests for additional PokéStops. He said Niantic would "readdress this topic after the game is fully launched worldwide."
Colin Regan, 16, left, Tyler Venzen, 16, Andres Espinoza, 17, and Aileen Bravo, 15, play Pokemon Go at the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla, N.Y., on July 12, 2016. (Photo: Frank Becerra Jr., The (W
There are typically fewer PokeStops in non-white areas, if there are any at all.
While playing the popular augmented-reality game Pokemon Go in Long Beach, a city that is nearly 50 per cent white, Aura Bogado made an unsettling discovery - there were far more PokeStops and Gyms than in her predominantly minority neighbourhood in Los Angeles.
So Bogado created the Twitter hashtag #mypokehood in July to crowdsource the locations of PokeStops.
The results that poured in from across the county, and research from The Urban Institute think tank, bore out her experience.
Urban Institute researchers found an average of 55 PokeStops in majority white neighbourhoods and 19 in majority black neighbourhoods.
The Belleville News-Democrat found that pattern repeated itself in African-American sections of Detroit, Miami and Chicago.
Similarly, New York boroughs Brooklyn and Queens, both of which have high numbers of Hispanic and black residents, had significantly fewer PokeStops than in Manhattan and white and Asian neighbourhoods.
Couple accused of abandoning son for Pokemon Go
Tutor quits $3700 a month job to be Pokemaster
The man behind Pokemon Go
David Attenborough 'narrates' Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go: tips and tricks
Why I despise Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go: 5 things you didn't know
21 pro Pokemon Go tips
"It turns out Niantic, which makes Pokemon Go, relied on a map from a previous augmented reality game called Ingress, which was crowd-sourced from its mostly male, tech-savvy players," she wrote.
"The result is a high concentration of PokeStops in commercial and downtown areas of some cities, while there are typically fewer PokeStops in non-white or residential areas, if there are any at all."
The Urban Institute says the racial divides in the game amount to redlining - a term used when a community is cut off from essential services based on its racial or ethnic makeup.
The dearth of PokeStops and Gyms make it tougher for residents of these overlooked communities to participate in the game. They also lose the benefits to gamers that come with a multitude of virtual stops that dispense critical items for free such as Poke Balls, used to catch Pokemon, or egg incubators to grow new monsters.
'THIS IS NOT A NEW STORY'
This isn't the first time that structural inequities in the physical world have played out online.
Amazon's same-day delivery service Prime initially overlooked predominantly black and poor areas. Google's high-speed Internet service Fibre got dinged for doing the same.
"This is not a new story in terms of a product having some type of - whether intended or unintended - discriminatory effect," says Safiya Umoja Noble, professor of information studies and African-American studies at UCLA.
Reinforcing these inequities on the digital plain has implications that go far beyond Pokemon Go, says Jeffrey Vagle, executive director of the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
"Yes, Pokemon Go is just another silly smartphone game. But through its popularity and usage patterns, we can see the very real boundaries of poverty and racism that continue to be reinforced when we should be using our technologies to dismantle them," he wrote in a blog post.
The makers of Pokemon Go - which was downloaded more times during its first week than any other app in App Store history - didn't deliberately set out to disadvantage certain communities.
Niantic CEO John Hanke told Rolling Stone that Pokemon Go uses the same locations for PokeStops as in its previous augmented-reality game, Ingress. In Ingress, players would submit locations based on where they wanted to put "portals", or battle spots.
The problem: The demographics of Ingress players - mostly white, young and English-speaking, according to informal surveys of the community in 2013 and 2014 - shaped how the game unfurled in the real world.
Niantic spokesperson Chase Colasonno did not comment on the disparity of PokeStops and Gyms in predominantly black or white areas, but said in an email that the game is not yet processing user requests for additional PokeStops.
He said Niantic would "readdress this topic after the game is fully launched worldwide".
Aura Bogado (pictured), an environmental reporter for news outlet Grist, realized Pokemon Go's Poke Stops appeared more frequently in white areas than predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods and began collecting data
A Pokemon Go player has accused the game and its developer Niantic of putting Poke Stops, real-world locations where players get items, in predominately white neighborhoods.
Aura Bogado, an environmental reporter for news outlet Grist, began to notice the issue when the game was released last month.
She said when walking around Long Beach, California, which is 50 per cent white, she noticed there were far more Poke Stops than in her Los Angeles neighborhood, comprised of mainly minorities.
Bogado created the hashtag #mypokehood to crowdsource and document Poke Stop locations.
As results came in, Bogado began to confirm her suspicion that minority-heavy areas had fewer Poke Stops.
This belief was supplemented with data from The Urban Institute think tank.
The Urban Institute researchers found an average of 55 Poke Stops located in neighborhoods that had a majority white population.
Bogado created the hashtag #mypokehood to crowdsource and document Poke Stop locations and with the help of The Urban Institute realized her theory was right
Researchers found an average of 55 Poke Stops located in neighborhoods that had a majority white population and in black neighborhoods they found an average of 19 Poke Stops
In majority black neighborhoods they found an average of 19 Poke Stops.
The Belleville News-Democrat reported similar patterns in African American neighborhoods in Detroit, Miami and Chicago.
In New York, outer boroughs with higher levels of diversity, like Queens and Brooklyn, had significantly fewer Poke Stops than in Manhattan.
However, this disparity may just be the result of the game developer Niantic's use of a previous game that allowed users to mark real-life locations as in-game battle sites.
'It turns out Niantic, which makes Pokémon Go, relied on a map from a previous augmented reality game called Ingress, which was crowd-sourced from its mostly male, tech-savvy players
'The result is a high concentration of PokéStops in commercial and downtown areas of some cities, while there are typically fewer PokéStops in non-white or residential areas, if there are any at all,' Bogado wrote in a blog post.
The Urban Institute calls the disparity 'redlining', which is a term meaning a community that is cut off from essential services due to ethnic make up or race.
However, this disparity may just be the result of the game developer Niantic's use of a previous game, Ingress, that allowed users to mark real-life locations as in-game battle sites
Ingress's main user base was mostly white, young and English-speaking, according to informal surveys of the community in 2013 and 2014, which caused Pokemon Go's Poke Stops to reflect this demographic
Because their are fewer stops in these neighborhoods, residents find it more difficult to play and participate in the game.
'We now have a game where it looks like people who are already disadvantaged are playing it, now also are the more likely candidates who have to pay to play it,' Bogado told USA Today.
Niantic is not the first to show a racial disparity in its real-work layout.
When Amazon debuted Amazon Prime, services initially weren't offered in predominantly black and poor areas.
Google's high-speed internet service, Fiber, did the same and received criticisms.
'This is not a new story in terms of a product having some type of — whether intended or unintended — discriminatory effect,' says Safiya Umoja Noble, professor of information studies and African-American studies at UCLA.
But Niantic's intent was not to leave out poor or ethnically diverse areas.
Niantic CEO John Hanke told Rolling Stone that Pokémon Go used Ingress's locations, which were user submitted.
However, Ingress's main user base was mostly white, young and English-speaking, according to informal surveys of the community in 2013 and 2014.
This caused the areas where Poke Stops popped up to reflect that demographic.
Niantic said it wont comment on the Poke Stop disparity until the game has been launched worldwide. Then Poke Stops will be looked at more thoroughly.
Featured image credit: PA
When you think of Pokémon Go you probably think of crashing servers, grown men acting like teenagers and how fucking hard it is to catch a Charizard. You might not think of racism, but now one US player has found what she believes to be proof that the biggest game of the year is unfairly skewed towards white players.
Aura Bogado has accused Pokémon Go and Niantic, its developer, of only putting Poké Stops in neighbourhoods which are mainly white, which is pretty shit for players based in other areas.
She said she noticed the issue when she was in Long Beach, California, which has a 50% white population, and she saw more Poké Stops than in her own LA neighbourhood, which is mainly populated by ethnic minorities, according to the Daily Mail.
To see if this was a problem elsewhere she came up with the hashtag #mypokehood to see what sort of areas had Poké Stops, and she claims that the screengrabs she was sent proved her right.
@aurabogado PG is in Brazil and as I expected this is #mypokehood, away from the rich downtown neighborhoods: pic.twitter.com/SEhO2y6YuF
- kéuri (@keurigyelli) August 9, 2016
@aurabogado I'm Latina and live on Lincoln street in queens NY #mypokehood pic.twitter.com/SppSR2RaZh
- Jasmine Torres (@jxtril) July 18, 2016
The Urban Institute backs up what Aura claims. Data collected shows an average of 55 Poké Stops in majority white areas and only 19 Poké Stops in areas with a mainly black population.
However, Aura has also said that the distribution of Poké Stops could be down to Niantic using an older game, called Ingress, to create the Pokémon Go maps. Ingress allows players to make real-life places as battle areas and the majority of these players were white, young and English speaking.
Niantic said it's not going to comment on the placement of Poké Stops until the game has been released worldwide.
Words Claire Reid
The game's popularity proliferated after a July 6 launch in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States: 7.5 million downloads during its first week; 50 million downloads from Google Play during its first month; and it was WikiPedia's most visited article by mid-July. Everyone noticed. Early in July, a former advertising coworker joked on Facebook:
" 'How about we partner with Pokemon Go?' -- Said in every office at every agency for every client this morning."
Probably. The augmented-reality (AR) mobile game requires players to travel real-life streets to find and capture digital characters superimposed on locations and displayed on the screens of players' phones. The game's screens also display PokeStops and gyms, locations superimposed on real-life landmarks. The CNN video at the end of this blog post provides a good summary. The Apple iTunes site explains important game details:
"Search far and wide for Pokémon and items: Certain Pokémon appear near their native environment—look for Water-type Pokémon by lakes and oceans. Visit PokéStops, found at interesting places like museums, art installations, historical markers, and monuments, to stock up on Poké Balls and helpful items... As you level up, you’ll be able to catch more-powerful Pokémon to complete your Pokédex. You can add to your collection by hatching Pokémon Eggs based on the distances you walk... Take on Gym battles and defend your Gym: As your Charmander evolves to Charmeleon and then Charizard, you can battle together to defeat a Gym and assign your Pokémon to defend it against all comers."
For many players, Pokemon Go has been a nostalgic return to their youth when Pokemon existed in cartoons, video games, and board-games. Some experts have speculated that the game's popularity, as measured by daily active users, may have peaked in the United States.
What do we know so far about the AR game? What has happened since the game's launch? What happens when a mobile fantasy game combines real-life locations? Are non-players affected? What might be the implications for future AR games? I looked for answers, found plenty, and organized my findings into good, bad, and ugly categories -- with apologies to Mr. Leone and Mr. Eastwood.
Niantic Labs developed the game for Apple iOS and Android devices. Earlier this month, the game debuted in Latin America. Reviewers have cited the game's addictive qualities:
"... Pokemon Go’s game designers have perfectly executed on the “Hook Model” — a framework for gamification and getting users to come back again and again and again."
Advocates have said that the game has gotten gamers off of their couches (e.g., butts) and out into the real world to get exercise, meet people, and explore locations they probably wouldn't have visited otherwise. Sounds good.
Within the game, PokeStops and gyms are located in publicly-accessible locations, such as theme parks, gardens, and museums. This has increased the sales at some nearby, small businesses. IGN reported on July 21:
"Bok Tower Gardens, a “contemplative garden” and National Historic Landmark located in Lake Wales, Fl, is saturated with PokeStops. The non-profit recorded a 10 to 15 percent increase in ticket sales during the first week of Pokemon Go’s release... So far, the only way to become a PokeStop or gym is to send in a request to Niantic Labs, but it isn't likely to be accepted unless the location is one of cultural significance or in a Pokemon Go deadzone."
The Twitter account Pokemon Archaeology catalogs Pokemon sightings in historic locations. The National Park Service (NPS) has welcomed gamers in many of its parks, but not at memorial sites. Some National Parks have featured programs with the game. Earlier this month, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offered a new program called "Pokemon Hunt:"
"... to connect “Pokemon Go!” with real-world flora and fauna... This interactive, ranger-guided walk will allow visitors to uncover the creatures, both physical and virtual, that can be found within the National Lakeshore. They will learn how these creatures do or do not fit in with the rest of the environment, and what can be done to help them thrive. At the end of the program, visitors will be able to design their own Pokemon. “Trainers” of all ages are welcome."
This summer, the NPS celebrates 100 years of operations. Gamers should check the NPS site to learn about any discounts and programs before visiting a park.
Some local businesses near colleges and universities experienced increased sales from gamers. Minnesota Daily reported:
"Many local Minneapolis businesses have considered, or implemented, special promotions to attract more mobile-gamers. Last week, Sencha Tea Bar in Stadium Village released three special shakes in correspondence with the three color teams of the game — red, yellow and blue — said store manager Josh Suwaratana. Suwaratana said the store does special shakes for other occasions, so
Power of Numbers: Pokemon Go!
Sandra Az Blocked Unblock Follow Following Feb 24, 2018
Metrics play a powerful and intensifying role in ordering and shaping our everyday lives. David Beer (2016), in his book, discusses some ways in which metrics exert power on humans and play a vital role in adjusting their social behaviours.
To start with, metric power is capable of giving values to some things and not to other things by rendering them visible or invisible. Metrics have the tendency to show and to hide. “Metrics allow some things to be seen and others to be hidden” (Beer, 2016, p.173). Consequently, leading to some things being important and others not. However, Beer explained that visibility and invisibility might both be empowering or dis-empowering. Empowering in a sense that causes behaviours and actions to become valued since they’re visible and dis-empowering in the sense that things are ignored and not highlighted (invisible). “ Metric power works through this complex interplay between the visible and the invisible” (Beer, 2016, 173).
Also, “Metrics have the capacity to order and to divide, to group or to individualize, to make-us-up and to sort-us-out” (Beer, 2016, p.174). It has the power of ordering, sorting and categorizing which also gives it the power to divide people into groups and sort-us-out in specific ways. For example, how did race create distinct hierarchies between people and cultures. One could wonder where terms like racism, niggers, Arabs.. etc came from. Beer continued to explain that this process is the reason why lives and opportunities are vulnerable to judgements. Metric power sets desired aims and outcomes. In this context, it’s a matter of capturing, producing, thinking and measuring in order to reach the desired outcomes. Metric Power sets up a model, a material reality that put’s the future into the present. Therefore, Metrics produce both the model and the means for people to be an “entrepreneur of the self”.
All those powers that metrics exert change the social world thus become the mean of verification and Beer mentions that the systems of measurement is what makes metric power a possibility. It decides what is acceptable, and what is not. Beer argues that metrics shape our decisions, even though it can’t be said to completely and utterly control our decisions. Still, it has the power to present a certain case to an audience, and shape how they respond to it.
Power of metrics can be proven through many examples. However, what really caught my interest is a tracking application called “Pokemon Go!”. Pokémon Go is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. It was initially released in 2016, created by John Hank.
Process of Data Collection:
Initially, the application asks about the gender and the age in addition to one’s gmail that is most probably linked to Facebook, Twitter and other identity revealing platforms. In addition, the application asks for acceptance on the terms and condition and the direct access to your camera thus it records your geospatial data: where you’ve been, how long you’ve been there, and at what speed you are moving.
Pokemon Go and the CIA
CEO, John Hank, has connections to the state department and the CIA. He found keyhole (which is a company specialised in geospatial data visualisation applications). In 2004, Google acquired the company and many others by keyhole being instrumental in Google maps and earth.
To make it clear how the game is tied to the CIA we should first have a look on CIA’s website under its contribution to technology so we find:
Pokemon Go shaped people’s behaviours and action
Pokemon Go went viral when it was released. The goal of Pokémon Go is simple: catch as many Pokémon characters as possible (Pokémon GO, 2016). But the reality behind this app is much more dangerous… Hundredth of Americans in the US were using the app, and it changed people’s actions and behaviour in a strange way below is a video that shows how they acted to raise their scores on Pokemon Go and to find more pikatchus..
A simple game that is driving people to move in the direction it wants, is clearly a sign of power. It became a trend everyone was concerned about and not using it would make the person outdated. The measurement here is the tracking of your movements where you go. So the app collects data about the places it sees on your camera. As we see in the video people are very overwhelmed and focused on the screen to the extent that they lose concentration in real life as if they are immersed in a new life in the game. Independent gives a brilliant example about a criminal “Mr Wilcox” who was caught because of playing
Did our AI mess up? Flag the unrelated incidents