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« Entity Resolution Systems vs. Match Merge/Merge Purge/List De-duplication Systems | Main | Takin’ Vegas »

October 05, 2007


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Vinay Gupta

Hey Jeff,

the State In A Box paper is now online, with a (very crude) demo of the code running.

Gives an alternate model, where we accept that a lot of this information will be generated but privatize the world by selective use of encryption.

Vinay Gupta

Helps if I remember to post the URL too.

Dan Linstedt

Hi Jeff,

You've hit the nail on the head... What I'd like to add to this list are the following points:

Universal Travel ID - Required by Interpol and World Health Org to travel from country to country. Why? Issued and required in the name of reducing the "threat" of terrorism...

not ticked yet...

Universal Serialization of All Available products..
We're on it.... It's happening in the name of counterfeit products, especially the Pharma industry...

Ticking currently...

And a few others I "can't" mention, right?

Anyhow, just food for thought.
Dan L

Amy Hengst

Thanks for the food for thought. I think you are mostly right on.

I'm not sure I agree with your clock though. GPS, RFID, and the other technologies you mentioned do make it easy to track people's movements and behavior, but they wouldn't necessarily enable total surveillance in the classic sense.

For example, in a domestic violence case or a drug deal where you could not see the event in progress, you could not prove it happened at all or who was at fault.

Also, doing enforcement based on GPS data is only possible if the information is logged and tracked. If John Doe robs a jewelry store, but the police haven't been tracking the GPS location info, they won't necessarily know he was there.

So it will be important for citizen's rights orgs like the ACLU to put restrictions on how the info is tracked and used.

Then again, eventually our devices will be incorporated more and more into our bodies -- for example with the ocular implants being used to improve sight in patients with age-related macular degeneration.

Those are treatments we can't simply take off our bodies or leave behind, and they'll eventually be incorporated with new functionalities, new ways of experiencing the world and logging those sensations.
As with cell phones, people will accept those because they're convenient and helpful, even though they will also have serious privacy and health implications.

In a world where we want to be logged in, all the time, it's practically impossible to avoid being watched all the time, too.


And then there is social network analysis [SNA] and NORA to analyze all of this relationship data.

So, if unbeknownst to X, he is 2 steps from Y [a known terrorist/criminal/activist]? Or, if X and Y usually pick up their dry cleaning from the same place at the same time? Or dozens of other possibilities where X and Y are deemed "close" or "near" or "intersecting". Who will make the judgement call on whether X is a "person of interest"?

Ed Vielmetti

Everyone is a "person of interest" Valdis!


If you are innocent, why worry?

Ray Garcia

Interesting sequence of ticks but I wonder if the perspective needs to be reconsidered away from the individual towards the aggregated view of the environment around a category of individual preferences within a general location.

I think an over emphasis on the individually generated data may not afford the best vantage point for thinking about what might result as benefits and dangers to the individual and groups they choose to identify with.

It is not the specific points of data that matter to the individual nor can they be analyzed in any meaningful way. It is the context and meaning of the stream of actions and intentions within an identifying social structure that may be most useful.

It is sometimes difficult for an individual to recall their own stream of actions and what and why they made certain decisions within a particular time period or place.

The surveillance society, when thought of in terms of meaningful action streams of groups becomes beneficial to the individual in helping them reflect on their own behavior and whether it is really in their interest to continue those actions.

Assuming that the individual can extract benefit from the action streams then they can establish an aspirational goal and solicit help from merchants and agencies by providing them access within a limited frame to the surveillance data.

Without some means of establishing meaning and projecting a goal the specific surveillance data remains mostly useless and while it may be subject to abuse, as the volumes and types of data increase, it will remain computationally impossible to infer anything useful from the data. Maybe simplistic correlation might emerge such as the current Ad models on the web but this is far from causation.

Maybe the surveillance should be rethought to enable the individual to reflect on their own actions which are lost to the fragility of human memory recall. In this way the individual is afforded the opportunity to access thier own private past which is lost to them.


Response to joHn: if you are innocent, why worry?

I worry about two things. Firstly that an authoritarian government tends to criminalise its opposition, and the more data it holds, the easier it is to identify and make a case against the opposition.
Secondly that all this data can and therefore will be used by governments, as by marketers to outwit and manipulate the population as a whole into buying, believing, feeling, fighting, whatever.
This mass of information will surely not be for public consumption.

Hans Eisenman

Totally agree with Matslats. "If you're innocent, why worry?" is a little too Utopian. The data from all this surveillance would be in the hands of humans who would/could as fallible, misguided and ill-intentioned as any other. Then what?

All it takes is the redefinition of what is considered "criminal" and previously innocent information about a person could be used against him/her.

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