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Jos de Mul. Metaphors we nudge by. Reflections on the impact of predictive algorithms on our self-understanding. In: Katz, J., Schiepers, K., Floyd, J. (eds) Nudging Choices Through Media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2023, pp. 33-57 (


Conceptual metaphors have an important cognitive function; they not only help us capture unknown or elusive things in concepts but also nudge our actions. If metaphors get materialized they can even forcefully direct human behavior. Whereas the conceptual metaphor MAN IS A MACHINE nudges medical research, when an mechanical heart is implanted in a human body, it becomes a behavior enforcing material metaphor. At least partly, a human being then actually becomes a machine. In this chapter it is argued that in the information society the database not only acts as a conceptual metaphor (MAN IS A DATABASE), but implemented in e-commerce and biopolitics, it becomes a material metaphor which threatens to reduce human beings to algorithmically predictable entities without freedom and responsibility.


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