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QUESTION FOR MICHAEL CHOROST

leamirella's picture

I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the book that we read but I still have one burning question. I asked about the public and private spheres and how technology is making the private worlds of users more public. Chorost answered my question in class reasonably - I do agree with him that our lives were pretty public before. Smaller towns and communities didn't have much privacy at all and this notion of 'privacy' is something that is new and modern. However, what about data that is 'more' private? (I feel like we have to redefine what we mean by private here.... My version of it is that 'private' can be social - e.g. where you went for dinner and with whom the other night or 'more' private - things like your SSS number etc.)

Personally, I don't really care if people get a look at my social life. I know my Facebook friends like to stalk me anyway. However, I do care if people can find out about my extremely private data like my Hong Kong ID number, my passport number, my SSS number, my address and even my cellphone number to an extent. A quick Google search about data leaks yielded so many (recent) articles. If there are data leaks even with the clunky interfaces that we have now, what will happen when the internet is incorporated into our brains?

If something gets leaked on the internet now, people will see it but not everyone. By removing the interface, we get exposed to this data immediately. I feel like there are so many implications here. Would it even be worth it?

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leamirella's picture

Thanks for your reply!

I get your point about protecting your data and knowing about the risks that are involved.

However, I do have another question that arises from this. In chapter 11 of your book, you talk about the internet becoming self aware. (I really liked this section by the way and found it really intriguing) However, if we, hypothetically, had an integration between mind and the internet which then becomes self aware, what happens to the mind? While I personally believe that the internet and technology are not entities in and of themselves, I wonder what you have to say about the mind. What would the implications of this be? Would we lose our sense of selves? Our creativity? Our own individual thoughts? While humans don't perceive the world the same way, I just feel as though having the internet in our brains would make us more uniform.

Michael Chorost's picture

About privacy

Hi Lea, that's a good question. One answer is: really good security software. As with antivirus programs today, software can be configured to watch for and block certain types of data transmission. For example, a program could ensure that no set of numbers corresponding to your social security number would be allowed out.

Another, and deeper, answer is that you can decide what kinds of information get to be public. You might decide that your general emotional state is public information, but nothing else.

To be sure, leaks do happen even with good defenses. But that's just part of the territory. To get the benefits of communication you also have to accept that there will be risks and drawbacks. The fact that something might go wrong is not a good reason to avoid using a beneficial technology.

Mike

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