I read this article on arstechnica about a small club of people who (as a discussion starter) created a place with a sign “google glass is banned on these premises”.
I thought this was interesting to think about. I have not a coherent story… just some thoughts that need to be ordered some other day in a more nicer blog story:
I think we are reaching a moment in which the “everything-tech-is-cool-privacy-only-frustrates” mass movement (we don’t seem to be anywhere anymore without someone taking a pic from us and dropping it on facebook) (so it will be aggregated by one of the thousands of identity aggregators who store it zillions of databases) (where it is used by one of the thousands of analytical commercial packages to ‘algoritimize’ everything about me) is beginning to see a more massive opposite movement from also within the previous very pro-technology crowd.
Yes… there were always the privacy movements and related actions …. but the amount of intrusion on people who really do not want “to be on facebook” (I hope you understand that Facebook is just one of the millions of social networks) (and just used for simplicity) is becoming “visible” for those users-who-do-not-want-to-be-on-facebook. And this “visible” effect means it’s becoming simple to recognize.
Simple stated: also people who have trouble turning on a computer see camera’s, voice recorders, sensors, electronic logging rising around them. They see everyone around them walking with digital recording tools that instantly contribute data to a massive online database to be analyzed.
Obviously these kind of people have no clue on how to react against this. (look at the cookie law….).
So it is interesting to see what follows from the “tech” side the coming years.
For instance: you go to a restaurant and 50% of the visitors in the restaurant wear Google Glasses (or the same device from another vendor) meaning: every action of yourself will be recorded and placed in databases (on a gazillion different types of sites: social network, photo sites, food communities, video sites, blogs, joke sites, review sites, etc… etc..) (etc.. etc… etc…). This will not only be your picture (to prevent a new simplistic law “picture facebook law”…) this “recording” of your time in the restaurant could contain any property you can think of: from your heartbeat to a complete recording of what you discuss and from an analysis with whom you are there to what kind of wine you drink. Depending on the amount of smart hardware and software the “recorder” brings alongs with him… you will be completely analyzed and stored on the same spot, this could even be to the recorder’s own home server there is no difference anymore of someone just taking your photo and placing it in his own photo album. It’s just that amount of “things” like photo and “things” like photo album has grown exponentially (and all ‘things’ are now analyzed and cross referenced using algorithms)
In a sense…. this is an evolution which (I think) started with the photo camera, which dates back to ancient chines and ancient greeks who used pinholes to project an image upside down. OR … maybe later in 1816 with the first camera who used silver chloride to capture images. If you were sitting in a restaurant in let’s say 1890. It could well be that this same photograph taken back then is now re-stored and analyzed to relate to your current family. Maybe we even find new correlations from the way you frowned back then or is now re-used in other (social) algorithms.
There are people like me, who like new “technology”, which is more or less running along “scientific progress”, which is in turn running parallel to philosophical progress. The things “we” invent are commercially sold to the masses. Those masses are people who suddenly want “an ipad” because it can do cool stuff. Those masses drive new data collection and analysis movements because those can also be sold. Then… there is something like “privacy”. Privacy was previously a stupid word that stopped and frustrated integration between databases. It ment stupid workarounds and writing much more code and placing much more tools and hardware to reach the same thing (if goals even could be reached). So… previously “privacy” was stupid because it was in the way of the things you could achieve technically and commercially.
But… now reality falls down on us, even on the most anti-privacy techno commercially progress guru’s… Why? Because instead of the “theoretic” discussion it becomes “visible” around us and we notice ourselves popping up everywhere without ourselves knowing it. We have lost control of our own properties, they are on their way to be owned by others.
Of course … this is our own fault. We have given the masses access to this technology and have taught them that it is cool because we all thought it was cool. “they mimic”. We started blogging, we started using social networks and promoted it to our friend and family because it was utterly “cool”. But maybe… just maybe something went wrong here.
I think the only way to stop this is to find new ways that minimize the risk of your data falling in the wrong hands. And I don’t mean using ad-blockers, tor, using law regulations, etc… etc.. but something new that is also “cool” and which at first a small group adopts “because it is possible” and which is later mimicked by the masses.
Then again… maybe … just maybe… privacy is of no use. Maybe humanity as a group, like ants, does not need privacy. It would be weird for an ant to have privacy. It would not be good for the anthill. It would not be handy for your keyboard in your computer to have privacy “oh… I never pass the num lock to the CPU….” Maybe humanity as a whole functions much better without privacy and maybe we are growing to some kind of next state of integrated humanity where privacy is of no use. Maybe all of this new technology is a “natural path” to our next step and we just have to “adapt” to this new situation without fighting it.
Or… maybe we just on our way to find a good equilibrium between the two. But if that is the case I would not expect “law” on the one hand and “tech+commerce” on the other hand. I would expect “tech” on both sides. It seems it is missing currently from one side.
I don’t know, I have to think about this.