Some bits about privacy
I quit Facebook seven months ago.
Despite its undeniable value, I think Facebook is at odds with the open web that I love and defend. This essay is my attempt to explain not only why I quit Facebook but why I believe we’re slowly replacing a web that empowers with one that restricts and commoditizes people. And why we should, at the very least, stop and think about the consequences of that shift.
Another good piece on the current state of the Web as an open platform, with some very practical examples.
While the idea of quitting social media may be unrealistic for most people, it’s important to raise awareness about what is at stake. No platform is inherently bad, as long as users understand what they are giving away in exchange for the service.via neustadt.fr
So when people voice fears of artificial intelligence, very often, they invoke images of humanoid robots run amok. You know? Terminator? You know, that might be something to consider, but that’s a distant threat. Or, we fret about digital surveillance with metaphors from the past. “1984,” George Orwell’s “1984,” it’s hitting the bestseller lists again. It’s a great book, but it’s not the correct dystopia for the 21st century. What we need to fear most is not what artificial intelligence will do to us on its own, but how the people in power will use artificial intelligence to control us and to manipulate us in novel, sometimes hidden, subtle and unexpected ways. Much of the technology that threatens our freedom and our dignity in the near-term future is being developed by companies in the business of capturing and selling our data and our attention to advertisers and others: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent.
Essential talk by sociologist Zeynep Tüfekçi on the (very current) risks of machine learning applications in social media and advertising networks.via ted.com
So why do these sensibilities differ? Why is it that French people won’t talk about their salaries, but will take off their bikini tops? Why is it that Americans comply with court discovery orders that open essentially all of their documents for inspection, but refuse to carry identity cards? Why is it that Europeans tolerate state meddling in their choice of baby names? Why is it that Americans submit to extensive credit reporting without rebelling?
These are not questions we can answer by assuming that all human beings share the same raw intuitions about privacy. We do not have the same intuitions, as anybody who has lived in more than one country ought to know. What we typically have is something else: We have intuitions that are shaped by the prevailing legal and social values of the societies in which we live.
If history is a guide, the costs and convenience of radical transparency will once again take us back to our roots as a species that could not even conceive of a world with privacy. It’s hard to know whether complete and utter transparency will realize a techno-utopia of a more honest and innovative future.
But, given that privacy has only existed for a sliver of human history, it’s disappearance is unlikely to doom mankind. Indeed, transparency is humanity’s natural state.
A really interesting journey through the history and evolution of the concept of “privacy”, although arguing that privacy is (or not) a natural condition seems as problematic as trying to define nature itself.via medium.com