Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, April 19, 2013

New WFS Post Is Up

I decided to edit and republish last night's Camera Reassura post over at the World Future Society. Perhaps it will attract more scrutiny there.


dasht said...

Nobody has any "solutions" to sell for the problematics of ubiquitous surveillance so Manjoo's role is to narrate past it and shill for the things that are for sale.

He does a good job in this sense, by way of a hypothetical example:

Suppose that someone in the society of the powers that be gets the notion that their city, say an Oakland or a Berkeley, ought to adopt a policy of adding more and more cameras, tying them to law enforcement networks, etc.

Initially they'll discuss this at Chamber of Commerce subcommittee meetings and cultural events. They'll develop a narrative along the lines of Majoo's (he's helping!), construct some "experts" in that narrative, and start expanding the circles where that narrative is current.

Up to a point nobody is going to look at those narratives all that critically except as regards their effectiveness as advertising. People start buying in and spreading this story out of loyalty to the cohort of the locally powerful. "Everyone" in that cohort more or less recognizes that this kind of development is a chance for various of their members to do business and make money, revise and/or consolidate their administrative powers, and so forth.

At some point the narrative really starts to hit the public. Perhaps this will be around the time that some elected official needs to officially introduce pro-camera proposals.

By the time it gets to that point, the society of swells is in full possession of the narrative so when the press begins to cover the "new" initiative from the elected official, and turn to their sources in the society of local business interests and academic "experts" -- that soothing story about how a few quick laws can prevent any privacy abuse is coming in confident tones from all directions.

Enter Carrico and his suggestion that, gee, this question of our ability to regulate away the privacy concerns is not only timely, but perhaps overdue and very difficult.

The problem is, it takes more than a fleeting attention span to follow Carrico and, even worse, it takes some pretty sophisticated life experience.

For example, the gulf between the theory and practice of regulation in a case like this is something that, at least from what I can see among people I encounter -- most people can not even conceive.

The idea that a big brother database and massive sensor network is fundamentally ungovernable and raises all these questions about who can access what ... go say that at a city council meeting and see what happens. Go try it during the Q&A at one of those public meetings sponsored by one of the local business association.

The audience lacks the prerequisites. They may be honest, earnest, and well intended but most of them literally can not even begin to hear what you'd be saying.

Dale Carrico said...

I'm a teacher, not a salesman. Teachers teach things, salesmen sell things. If nothing else, I can teach that salesmen selling teaching as selling are selling us out. Teach people a little, and people teach you too -- among other things that they hear more than we give them credit for. Courage!