Tuesday, November 28, 2017
... but there's still time to unplug it
On a walk across the show floor at January's Consumer Electronics Show, a friend working in technology for nearly thirty years expressed unease at where it all seemed to be headed.
As I pulled my head away from a consumer door lock containing an embedded retinal scanner, I replied. "I don't know what you're talking about."
But I did. I could feel it in my gut and heard it from everyone else who'd spent a career working in technology. It isn't just that a few megacorporations nearing trillion-dollar valuations have sucked all of the oxygen out of the room, it's that they've become so big they've started to warp the fabric of reality.
Facebook got caught out in May using real-time emotional profiling to target vulnerable teenagers with commercial offers.
Google was caught out last week tracking Android users even when they're not supposed to.
Amazon wants access to your home.
Apple developed a next-generation smartphone that provides a real-time stream of facial gestures to any app that wants to measure your emotional reactions. Hardly anyone cares because it also offers - so cute! - a poo animoji!
In any previous year, any one of these incidents might have have seen a massive outpouring of outrage, a pushback that would get these firms to amend their ways. In 2017, they just feel like a few more outrages in a year crowded with them.
Along with outrage fatigue we seem to be experiencing surveillance fatigue: it's not creepy that Amazon wants inside your home or Apple wants to scan your face or Google wants to know where you are every single moment. Not creepy at all.
How did we get to this normalisation of pervasive surveillance?
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