As many of you know, the Internet is sometimes called the Information Superhighway. What most of you have not heard, is that the destination of this superhighway may not be what you had hoped. Where is it leading us?
What do you consider as threats to our privacy today?
â€¢ Cookie tracking
â€¢ Shopping data
â€¢ Search data
â€¢ Personal info from registrations
â€¢ Business info from credit agencies
â€¢ Medical data
â€¢ Government data
â€¢ Comments, Forums, Social sites
â€¢ GPS location tracking
â€¢ Cameras in Streets and Stoplights
â€¢ Cameras in Stores
â€¢ Cameras in Public Areas
â€¢ Nanny Cameras
â€¢ Home Security Cameras
â€¢ Satellite tracking cameras
â€¢ and more …
Doesn’t it make sense that someday, these will all be linked into the net and someone or something will be tracking your every movement? Who’s going to be watching? Governments are the obvious answer. For an example of this idea, watch “Enemy of the State“.
Another group to consider is the hacker community. They’ve discovered the profit in stealing your personal data.
If the governments and the hackers aren’t enough for you, let’s add more for you to worry about.
Your personal information is already a valuable commodity to businesses wanting to sell you products. What’s going to happen as those companies get access to ever more increasing amounts of data about you, where you are and what you are doing? Stephen Saunders at InformationWeek thinks the Internet will become:
… a sophisticated targeting system for companies to sell “stuff” to consumers, for governments to keep track of citizens, and for law enforcement to track illicit activity. In commercial terms, it will be an Internet where the user becomes the used.
I think Stephen may not be paranoid enough. After all, many are predicting the introduction of true machine intelligence by 2025. What could super-intelligent computers could do with all that information about us? I’m not afraid that Skynet will nuke us, but how long can we retain any illusion of freedom when our machines know everything about us and they’re smarter than we are? Watch the movie Eagle Eyefor a hint.
Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, expressed the same concerns ten years ago, in his post “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us“. I remember his question:
Can we doubt that knowledge has become a weapon we wield against ourselves?
Now you might understand why I’m a little paranoid about the future. I think we’ll have a choice to become “one with the machine”, like the Borg, or become useless slaves to our technology. The governments, corporations and hackers will be the least of our worries. Welcome to the machine.