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Disappearing CuriosityTechnology has become part of our being, or as Alexander Stubb said; “we are already cyborgs, phones just haven’t been officially attached to us yet.” If you would ask me to not use my phone for a month it would severely hinder my life just as much as the next one. It is great, practising my music hobby has never been easier. No waiting in front of a recorder for hours to make your own playlist by taking songs from the radio.

However, as in the example of music, all aspects of life are becoming digital. There are no mechanical parts to objects to be felt, heard, or touched. This brings many advantages, devices are more portable, durable, faster, just to name a few. But the downside is that it has become impossible to understand how things work, and this applies to all life improving appliances. Could this be a case of disappearing curiosity?
...continue reading "The case of the disappearing curiosity"

Technological advancements are being kicked into high gear. Finding someone - centenarians excluded - without a phone and social media app installed on it is as rare as hens’ teeth. All registering with social media are asked to agree with a terms of service and conditions (ToS) agreement that is intentionally long to discourage readers. This can lead to some interesting, yet unsurprising, outcomes- a study in 2016 found that over 500 participants unwittingly agreed to give their first born to the company overlords. Whilst the Rumpelstiltskin-esque demand would never hold up in court, it does show how eager we are to throw away our rights signing online contracts, without bothering to see what we're giving away.

During the Dotcom bubble, Google had to change its revenue source to keep its head above water. The method they chose set the example for all future tech giants and created a very lucrative business model. Before 2002 Google used the data, it gathered from search requests, to improve the search engine itself. With every search, there was a behavioural data surplus that remained unused. This previously "surplus" data now makes up 86% of Google's livelihood, and similar practices can be found at other tech companies. User’s accumulated data over the years has proven to be a gold mine for tech companies, but at what point did they inform users? ...continue reading "The terms and conditions of your Social Contract"

Part one of two(?) on data and society. 1. The Pros

China trials a social scoring system which is set to launch in 2020. This new scoring system has been covered in the western media as what George Orwell describe in his book 1984 as Big Brother. Now we all know that big data and the collection thereof is evil, and I as an individual should have the only access right to my personal information. However, on the academic side, there are not a lot of peer-reviewed articles available yet on the precise social and political implications of this subject. Whether that is because of the novelty of the issue or that the information is behind locked doors, is uncertain. China's system is often compared to the ID number system in India called Aadhaar, while different from the outset, they both dabbling in new data realms. Most news articles that are written about these systems dive into the punishments and rewards, because, the truth is, that is what is most interesting to read about. How will it affect a person's life? And is it as scary as it sounds?
...continue reading "Big data & reality mining; the bright side"

21 lessons for the 21st-century, unsurprisingly, caught my interest because it goes exactly into the topics discussed in this blog. So many of the lessons touch upon challenges we face in this age and Yuval Noah Harari tries to set a frame or define, how we should approach these topics. From religion, to fake news, to technology, no stone has been left unturned. It is precisely this aspect that it should be worth your time to explore its 372 pages to see if any of the lessons: 1. Resonate with what you think is important & 2. Explore in what direction one must look for an answer. Overall a book I would recommend, but it would not be an honest review if I do not highlight some of its pitfalls.
...continue reading "[Book review] 21 lessons for 21st century – Yuval Noah Harrari"

With the implementation of the GDPR and the Facebook data leaks it shows the need to constantly revisit how we think about privacy. But how far can we go to ensure our privacy is safeguarded without decreasing our safety. Security is a value that is quite common in the classical political philosophy mostly tied to the social contract. It is humankind that gives up certain freedoms, including privacy, to the state so that their safety is ensured and they are able to live in peace. However, with the rise of technology we are often more aware of ways our privacy is violated, but if you have got nothing to hide, you have got nothing to fear?

One of the difficult aspects when talking about privacy is how one can define it. A common misconception is to relate privacy to secrecy, this is also the fallacy of the nothing to hide argument. Privacy is not merely to hide your secrets, it encompasses numerous amount of situations. A great example is the protection against stalkers, when someone is following you and monitoring your movement every day that is a clear violation of your privacy. A second example is when other parties can have free access to your past events it can cause you to miss out on opportunities or be treated unfavourably over peers. These two examples are exactly what is at stake in our current digital age. Companies sharing your information to a third party without your consent is a obvious cause that can have the above mentioned repercussions.

The advancement of the Internet of Things privacy becomes even more of a challenge to maintain. Coffee companies would without doubt pay a heavy fee for example to know how customers have synced their coffee machines to their alarm clock to make marketing even more effective. Habits and attitudes have always been key in marketing strategy, but information in the wrong hands can influence not only what advertisements you are shown, but also who to target in elections.

Privacy and Security shall always have to be perfectly balanced and based upon public opinion. While there does not seem to be a big problem with tech giants knowing your interests, you should always have a right to know what personal information companies have acquired from you and how it is being used. Transparency should be the key. Giving consent for uncertain data handling is a bad practice. However, these days it is so hard not to just select 'accept cookies' since else browsing some websites becomes much more of an issue.

Awareness should always be key in the privacy and security debate. People often do not realise or are bothered with what personal information is being passed around from them. But the dystopian scenarios with personal score/ratings seems to become much more likely.