You can run, but you can’t hide….
DAVOS, Switzerland: “Welcome to today. We’re already in that world,” said Margo Seltzer, a professor in computer science at Harvard University. “Privacy as we knew it in the past is no longer feasible… How we conventionally think of privacy is dead,” she added.
Invasions of privacy are “going to become more pervasive,” she predicted. “It’s not whether this is going to happen, it’s already happening… We live in a surveillance state today.”
However, despite the pessimistic Orwellian vision, the academics were at pains to stress that the positive aspects of technology still far outweigh the restrictions on privacy they entail.
“By and large, tech has done more good than harm,” she said, pointing to “tremendous” advances in healthcare in some rural areas of the developing world that have been made possible by technology.
And at a separate session on artificial intelligence, panellists appeared to accept the limit on privacy as part of modern life.
Rodney Brooks, chairman of Rethink Robotics, an American tech firm, took the example of Google Maps guessing – usually correctly – where you want to go. “At first, I found that spooky and kind of scary. Then I realised, actually, it’s kind of useful,” he told the forum.
Anthony Goldbloom, a young tech entrepreneur, told the same panel that what he termed the “Google generation” placed far less weight on their privacy than previous generations.
“I trade my privacy for the convenience. Privacy is not something that worries me,” he said. “Anyway, people often behave better when they have the sense that their actions are being watched.”
*and with that, we end today’s bulletin to close the windows…..