Tag Archives: E-ethics

The future of espionage

Okay, so it is now official that the infrastructure for a police state is already there. The infinite possibilities of mass espionage are laid out. Time to move on and think how we want this to shape our future privacy.

Perhaps it is a new kind of ninja skill to move over the net unseen. Alert. Always on the lookout for ripples in the digital waters. Unless we jam the entire grid there will be those who stand outside the law. By that fact, they will be able to tune in to any conversation you’ve had in the past ten years, and will have in the near future. Let’s, for the sake of this argument, forget about them.

To prevent wild growth of espionage activities by different parties, I could imagine that it would have to become basically illegal to access privacy information of any innocent civilian. Breaching that code -also if done under the authority of a state- could result in penalties, ranging from fines to prison time. Victims could be compensated.

It might also be smart to give criminals a (temporary) loss of privacy. After getting out of jail, I could imagine a trial period in which samples are taken from the contacts these people are maintaining. It could be a way to prevent them from falling back into harmful lifestyles. This subject is tricky, because when is something a crime? The Egyptian government, for example, has recently prohibited demonstrations. Conspiracy against the state is seen as something very severe, while it is sometimes the only way to induce positive change.

Or what to think of the option for augmented privacy for people on delicate positions? It could be accompanied by higher penalties for breach. It might be quite functional in times of difficult governmental decisions. But how do you sell that to the mob? Could mankind find an agreement on this? Augmented privacy could also be a reward for those who have prevented a cyber attack on a big institution, or whoever has helped arrest an anonymous hacker.

The market of privacy protection will probably grow soon. This could make the rich become more powerful, and the poor weaker. Would it even be ethical to allow for such a development? It already is like that in many ways, of course, but didn’t the internet finally add a tiny bit of equality to civilization? Should we give it away as easily as this?

 All people are private, but some are more private than others?

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A plea for the space in the smiley

SmileyPlea

Which one looks better? Number two, right? Then why does everyone write smileys like the first one? If anything, that one looks as if it’s being squeezed.

Here’s a hypothesis: it’s because of a false sense of rush. People feel the need to hurry, and can’t afford to tap the spacebar between the colon and the bracket. They believe it is acceptable to write a smiley as a frog’s face. Everybody does it, after all. If this is true, they are caught in a system of neglect. For vague reasons, they renounce the use of details, character and happiness. Watch the pictures once more if you are not sure.

Maybe it’s because when you type it without space, some programs replace your signs for a little smiley image. This explanation is even worse. It means that people place their creativity in the hands of some machine, coded for commercial reasons. They believe that industrial outputs are better than their own, and therefore let their acts be controlled by it, even when they are not working with that program. Very sad.

Or perhaps people feel that the bigger the smile, the happier the face. Those people I’d like to ask to stand up, walk to the mirror and try it out for themselves.

Putting the space within the smiley is an act of resistance. With this space, one shows that he does not succumb to the degradation of the creative mind. One shows control over the own agenda and willingness to offer a tiny bit of extra time to the reader, just for the sake of his joy. The user of this space tells the world that he cannot be pushed in the direction where our surroundings or inventive marketers try to get us.

Don’t you agree that society is saturated with colours, smells and yells? Using this space shows that you too believe in a world where absence of information is appreciated. It symbolizes faith in a more easy, gentle and comprehensible society, where things can happen at their pace. Isn’t it wonderful that this can be demonstrated with something simple as a smile?

: )

Hoax

I see well-educated people spread viral messages with deformed, badly reviewed or simply unjust information about a wide variety of topics. Hoaxes. A sense of sensation seems to drive them to copy bad articles, and spread them further over the web. Popular topics are Monsanto, the EU and our privacy. Power and control, basically.

What is true and what is not? This question has held people’s minds for as long as they exist. Through the ages, there have been opportunities for new beliefs, and they have been either undermined by the dominant players or embraced by them.

The emergence of science provided simple methods that help verify certain statements for truth. As time went on, topics became less straight forward and “truth” turned into “validity”. Some scientific branches evolved into constructs of theories and ideas. These constructs became institutions and these are now defended by those who work for them. Like the fortifications in the Medieval age.

Dollars where spotted. Doubt arose. Scientists now contradict each other. Humanity feels this. Outside of the institutions, some people see truth as no more than a belief. Take the climate sceptics. Valid reasonings are understood as stories that can be undermined. After all, some people say, political forces shape what is considered “true”. And hasn’t the past shown that truth is subjected to the altering force of time? It’s under these circumstances that social media appeared.

Conspiracy theories are not new. What is new, is the way they are spread over the net by people who should know better. What is also new is the way each theory can be traced back to its source. Posts can be tested. If we stop believing in the unquestionable authority of scientists, why not take responsibility and research for ourselves?

The fact that scientists are not always right does not prove that truth is purely a negotiable thing. Truth is also something every individual can honestly strive for. I’d like to invite you, reader, to look through to the sources of your on-line information. It can be quite interesting to see how some stories are blown up when rewritten. And if you plan to re-post something, take a moment to consider your own credibility. Your E-identity is at stake.

With the expansion of social media, the entrance of noise on the line will only get worse. I think it is therefore essential that we all check what we and our friends post and re-post. We have the opportunity to reshape science into something we should all take part in. Knowledge to the people.

What will become of information now lies in the hands of the people who are willing to work for it. Join us.