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June 9, 2013

Privacy

Re: Google Glass, PRISM, and all that — I forget when I first said it, maybe a decade ago, but:

In the future, we will all have our fifteen minutes of privacy.

It’s an obvious corruption, but that hasn’t stopped us walking straight into the trap. For all of Google’s assertions that they won’t allow facial recognition for Glass, isn’t that exactly what we’ve all wanted ever since somebody first came up with the idea of earrings that whisper the name of the person who’s just started talking to you?

…and of course, your personal electronics will run the search by querying the cloud, and once you’ve uploaded your social connections to make that work you’ve abrogated privacy.

We’ve been preparing for this for more than twenty years. We’ve known about Echelon for almost as long. And more than a billion of us pour our lives into Facebook anyway. We want this future personally and individually, and the collective risk is someone else’ problem.

What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the demolition beam. I don’t know, apathetic bloody planet, I’ve no sympathy at all.

If I were to write a science fiction novel right now, I’d probably set it against the background of a US-like state which had gone through the right-wing equivalent of China’s Cultural Revolution. It’d be like the McCarthy era, only with actual evidence.

I may not think that’s going to happen, but I’ll make a spread bet and rejoin ORG anyway. In the meantime I find it hard to get in a lather about PRISM precisely because I’d pretty much assumed any halfway competent intelligence agency would be trying to pull that off anyway.

The failure is ours for electing policy-makers who make the same mistakes with countries as we do as individuals. And I’m not sure how we get around that, short of evolving as a species. Fast.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on June 9, 2013 12:59 PM.

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