Responding to Possible Futures

I feel Doctorow’s description of society is very realistic than dystopic. The vast majority of surveillance technology that he describes exist to this day. It is deployed by companies, schools and numerous corporations. On page 119 Doctorow states “I could program my routers to generate enormous, voluminous logs, whole libraries worth of data about every packet in or out of the building. From this room, I might be able to set up a trap.” When you think about technology in some schools, they are able to monitor children, take pictures of them in school and even inside their own homes. Our government is installing spyware that are often weak enough for criminals to access on their very own computers. Much like the character in Homeland. Companies can now even use quantities of an online user’s personal data and target market them as they please.

“I wondered how the bug worked. Did it phone home every time I signed on to a network, telling the snoops that I was online and available for watching and spying? Did it store up pictures of me and logs of my keystrokes when I was offline, waiting for an opportune moment to dump all this stuff?” –Doctorow pg 120. In this chapter he describes the thoughts in his head when observing a webcam. I felt this chapter gives a real expectation of how a lot of people within our major will start to behave when it comes to technology. We are learning lessons on privacy defense, the importance on lengthening passwords and using secure VPN’s. We are learning where it’s appropriate to question authority and to act responsively and independently.

Our final will use technology to contribute to the greater good. We will be delving into the connection between technology and our personal lives and seeing how we can use data to make dating more efficient. My partner and I believe that our findings will help develop a user’s interpersonal skills. We will explore how we can use a specific photograph and lines of text to help pull a user in. We will examine how people interact online, what they expect of each other and will use data to see what makes one more desirable. Our data gathering will be personal and survey type. We will also examine conversations and gather up keywords provided by our online world.

One thing that I find intriguing about the online world, is our ability to use these tools to keep track of things and look back on later. Some people see this as good, others as bad.

“Our task is to learn how to build smart rooms—that is, how to build networks that make us smarter, especially since, when done badly, networks can make us distressingly stupider.” ―David Weinberger.

Our tools can not only expand our abilities, but they can limit them when we rely on them too heavily. When we become dependent on that which we use, we can’t function without it. One example of this is Google and looking up information. We have a fountain of knowledge right in our pockets, we aren’t forced to remember anything.

“That, to me, is the core harm of surveillance: that it freezes into place an inefficient (or worse) politico-economic regime by cowing its critics into silence.” ― Frank Pasquale.

Surveillance creates data that is utilized to watch the activities of people. We can use data, but other can use data too. What we do with the data is just as important what we learn. Most people can’t remember any phone numbers that they’ve learned in the last ten years because we haven’t had to dial a phone number that we use regularly. How many phone numbers can you remember? How many of them come from a time when you were forced to remember them? Our brain requires exercise like a muscle, and when we ride a motor scooter all day, it atrophies.