Sunday, October 27, 2013

"The Information-Gathering Paradox"

Sunday, October 13, 2013

There's no escape

I keep this blog and Twitter account, and I edited a book on pervasive ICT, but I'm not a hard-core techie. I don't read any tech magazines, I don't go out looking for sources for this blog. I just scan a few sources daily or weekly, including The New York Times, and post interesting bits here or on my @TeachRCR Twitter account. My point is that I pretty much stumble across these things, which means they are pretty close to the line of common knowledge. Sometimes, like today, I find it a bit scary how creepy the in-the-pipeline technologies are, and I wonder what's out there, just a few steps behind.

All of that was triggered by these two stories in the Times. The first is just about a handful of Google Glass wannabes. Irritating, invasive, privacy-decomposing - but we're getting braced for the flood.
But along with it comes this:
Somebody give me a "Come on, now!"

Here are my two favorite passages:
The more invasive audio mining also has the potential to unnerve some consumers, who might squirm at the idea of an unknown operator getting an instant entree into their psyche.
That's an understatement.
“It seems to me that the biggest risk of this technology is not that it violates people’s privacy, but that companies might believe in it and use it to make judgments about customers or potential employees,” says George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. “That could end up being used to make arbitrary and potentially discriminatory decisions.”
I don't know about you, but to me this is a no-win proposition. If the software works as advertised, it's the most severe invasion of privacy we're likely to see until Isaac Asimov's pscyho-probe comes around. If it doesn't work, but people believe in it, it'll be another source of confusion and another tool in the power-abuser kit.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Google to Sell Users’ Endorsements"

Has Google become yet another abomination upon the earth? On the bright side, we can all use it's own services to condemn it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Let's Build a More Secure Internet"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Researchers split over NSA hacking"

Here's the comment I posted to this news piece: 

In 1982, I graduated with a B.S. in mathematics. I was young and ignorant and naive, and the only math jobs I knew of were either college teaching or in the military-industrial complex. I didn't think I was good enough in math to go to graduate school and I didn't want to contribute to the war in Viet Nam, so I took another route.

I later came to believe that we should not vilify people who work in industries that we deplore. If liberal academics (like me) condemn others like us except that they might apply for a job that happens to have military connections, only the very boldest will apply and the majority of applicants might well be militaristic jingoist fundamentalists intent on ushering in the apocalypse. (I came of age during the nuclear freeze movement and Secretary of Interior James Watt.)

My characterization of "them" is intentionally exaggerated, but I hope you get the point: If people who share my values are shut out from certain areas of study, only people who don't share my values will have a voice. This is unacceptable in a democracy.