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Raised by Google

"Raised by Google" is an interactive installation investigating the extent to which our opportunities and experiences are influenced by the underlying systems of a data-driven society.

Raised by Google

"Raised by Google" is an interactive installation commissioned by Arebyte Gallery, exploring the impacts of current data practices on our seemingly autonomous lives. The project investigates the extent to which our opportunities and experiences are influenced by the underlying systems of a data-driven society.

The exhibition delves into the rapidly expanding behavioural futures market in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as highlighted by Shoshana Zuboff in her book 'The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.' It adopts processes and techniques prominent in the behavioural analytics industries, such as psychographic analysis, microtargeting, and the gamification of data collection.

Psychographic microtargeting, a method of citizen profiling, goes beyond previous demographic segmentation by dividing groups into narrower subsets based on attitudes, interests, moods, and dispositions. This extreme microtargeting is made possible by large amounts of big data, the availability of targeted media platforms such as social media, and advances in experimental methodology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Taking the form of a large maze structure, the installation seeks to circumvent the opacity inherent in these practices by placing the viewer within the mechanisms of 'black box' algorithms that underpin our daily lives. Visitors navigate through a series of locked doors, with their available routes determined by their data footprint. Each set of doors is assigned a specific trait, such as perceived gender, intelligence, or BIG 5 personality type (extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism).

Design mockups demonstrating maze structure. Image credit: Artist

The doors become a metaphor for both opportunities and barriers as visitors are unknowingly judged on aspects such as perceived personality type, political sway, gender, and intelligence. As visitors progress through the maze, they are herded into increasingly smaller echo chambers, with rooms designed to target their specific psychological profile.

Images from installation. Image credit: Paul Chaplier


"Raised by Google" employs 'Apply Magic Sauce' (AMS), software developed by Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Department. Designed to empower users by putting them in control of their data, AMS unveils the predictability (and thus profitability) inherent in individual data. Leveraging digital footprints, AMS anticipates each visitor’s psycho-demographic profile, encompassing factors like age, personality, intelligence, and life satisfaction.

AMS diagram (Image source:

Visitor profiles are compiled through a custom-made quiz that gathers information about their preferences. This data is then utilised to generate a psychographic profile for each visitor through an API call to AMS.

Each set of doors is managed by ESP8266s, which regulate magnetic locks and lights to indicate the designated door for the visitor to progress through.


Commissioned by Arebyte Gallery

Curated by Rebecca Edwards

Artist: Sarah Selby

Collaborators: The University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, Joseph Allen, Annemiek Höcker, Rod Dickinson

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