Saturday 25 April 2015

Everything You Think You Can Leave Behind; It's all about data

Information is king. Information is also the way forward, in order to monetise and educate the masses. But don't take my word for it. Think about how much time you actually spend gathering, sorting, assessing or even just reading words and sentances. Unless you're a staunch luddite, I'll hedge my bets that you're swiping or are about to swipe your phone or tablet at least once in the next few hours. Either that, or you're about to hit the internet at least once today.

If you're not getting paid to do this, even at a secondary level as part of your vocation, you're indirectly paying someone else for it. The ISP ( internet service provider) whom you pay a regular monthly subscription fee to, for the priviledge of providing a gateway to the world wide web, is making money off your need and desire to be more globally connected at your own level of congruence. And that's just the basic level. The myriad of ways to monetize information on the internet are longer than either of my arms. Just enter 'making money using the internet' into a search engine, and have a look for yourself.

Peter Drucker, who knew a thing or ten about information and the power inherent within it, knew about this many years ago :-

What Peter Drucker Knew About 2020

Drucker was way ahead of the game and he highlights what I've referred to above, with pinpoint accuracy. The only concern on the horizon, is the variable notions of a 'post capitalist society', with many already predicting a doom-laden scenario of depleted resources. This is then coupled to a bored, dissafected and ultimately ignored, larger ex-workforce based population. As mentioned before, it won't get to the point of 'zombied drones', as man is ultimately at the helm of all this change in a direct and controlled manner.

Until A.I. (artificial intelligence), gets to the stage of making intelligent and consistently reliable decisions for us acrosss the board, then I cannot envisage the human race putting themselves out of useful productivity en masse, for the sake of innovation and progress. That's just cashing in on self-sabotage AND self-defeat, which aren't good reasons to do anything in life. Especially something brand new.

And it's from the old and to the new, that the director of the federal bureau of investigation, is having a call to arms:-

FBI director demands access to private cell phone data

I'm on and off the fence on this issue. The trouble is that whatever trapdoor is built into a system for one party to enter from, another entity ( i.e. anyone else) who has a hacker mentality will also be able to do the same, either sooner or later.

On the other hand, the real threats of terrorism are not to be sniffed at, but the irony is that up until now, not one threat which then became action in the last decade, has been thwarted with any other level of surveillance that the authorities have at their disposal. So it's quite remarkable that even more access to pirvate data is required. Having said that, at least the request is now more public, which is progress. Especially in the light of security related revelations in the last few years, with more data monitoring results and rationale being spilled into the public eye, via all sorts of  internet ( and otherwise) based groups. If that's anything to go by, then we're heading into a newer time of clearer communications and transparency, and that's surely a good thing.

As mentioned earlier, A.I. or artificial intelligence is also a useful idea. It allows many devices to accurately second-guess a swathe of activity. From setting your living room to the correct temperature, light and even sonic ambience in time for your arrival from work, to calculating the best route to the airport from your house with concurrent traffic positions  in mind, A.I. has a lot of benefits therein.

But can it also be a menace? Elon Musk thinks so :-

Tesla boss Elon Musk warns artificial intelligence development is 'summoning the demon'

There's a certain sense of irony to all of this. Musk is another pioneer (he put together Paypal) and innovator ( he invented The Tesla Electric Car), and his reliance and belief in the power of technology is unquestionable. But the issue of surveillance comes up yet again. Now that's something that sticks in my throat as well.

Just to clarify, I'm not against all the CCTV cameras we have all over the place in cities and towns. That is put in place to save lives, and prevent further damage to infrastructural elements ( e.g. monuments, buildings, parks, etc)  But I do have a problem with the data being potentially sold off and/or manipulated in an 'out of context' useage, without my consent. That level of 'blind profiteering' isn't new, but it's been ramped up hugely since social media exploded in size, in the last five or so years.

On a related note, I haven't actively used my facebook account in some time. I have no idea what is going on there, as I've lost my original login info, which then I changed slightly and have switched to another phone since then.

It also occoured to me the other day, that I haven't recieved a single nonsensical advertising/ data mining type message ( and phonecall) on my smartphone in a long while. It could be sheer coincidence, but it's funny (actually it's a relief) how this has all happened after I just abandoned my account on there for a while. In any event, I'm happier and the show must go on.

Whilst we're all certain that social media and technology have united to push the frequency and need to communicate beyond our once normal social boundaries, there is a need for self-regulation. The increased willingness with which we swipe our smartphone screens, tap on the tablets and peer into our laptops over the last decade, has meant that we're giving away a lot more information without recourse to consequences on our own personal boundaries.

It could be argued that  it's now near pointless to assume that you have any real privacy left if you're on a cluster of social networks; after all, they are designed for self-promotion as well as communication. But what you leave behind will potentially remain there forever somewhere, wether out in the open or hidden on a data mining repository system.

See, you can't just tear up web pages or old posts where you've embarrased yourself in a group chat about some t.v. show and so on, and throw them in an incinerator or shredder. And even old email accounts you had, with those coded lovespeak messages to your boyfriend or girlfriend via your smartphone, are sitting somewhere like a jack-in-the-box, never losing it's 'spring season', so to speak.

Ultimately, it's more common sense than caution, that prevails over the internet. After all, if you wouldn't communicate like that in real life, then think extremely hard as to why you'd want to do it on the 'net, BEFORE hitting the enter key.

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