The fallacies of transparency
Calls for and claims to transparency appear to be intensifying precisely as the complexity of our information-driven society is increasing. With information as the centrifugal force of global society, and transparency as an ever more pronounced value of our new world order, why is society becoming only more opaque? This chapter traces a new curve of the transparency discourse, a curve which appears to be both radicalising and undoing the very terms on which the notion itself was born, and exposing the fallacies on which the discourse was based. Through a consideration of Jean Baudrillard’s prophetic critique of a hyperinformation society through the rise of “fake news” and ever more complex information systems, such as those driven by artificial intelligence, this chapter explores the role of the discourse transparency in today’s information society, arguing that it functions as an illusion. Transparency offers the illusion of a society that can be seen, known, understood and changed by its citizens, in a rendering which allows those at the reins of our information society to more effectively control and nudge human behaviour.