Privacy in a world bereft of privacy, part 6: Good manners

This is really smart. After pointing out that targeted advertising is not the main problem with privacy (a point we've tried to make on this blog before), the author states:

On the other hand, it does seem to me that there is a serious problem about online privacy, and one that is only ever discussed tangentially. The problem that I’m thinking about arises out of the fact that the web is a social space, and yet because of the implicit threat of punishment, one is all but forced to show a false face in this part of one’s social life.
To the extent this issue is discussed at all, the presumption is that those who are punished deserved that punishment, either because their honesty showed them to be a bad person or because their honesty showed them to lack prudence. Which is to say we see a lot of discussion about what you can or should do to protect your reputation online, and no discussion at all of the norms behind our expectations.

I have a kind of utopian view that new social norms will inevitably evolve to cover these new capabilities, but even in the utopian view, this kind of change only occurs in response to very visible disasters, and will take a long time. We've covered this before.

So lets take a look at one of the more concrete concerns that's happening right now: If you are looking for a new job, your potential employer is almost certain to google (or bing or siri) you. If the top result is a picture of you doing a keg stand while wearing a 10-inch pink strap on, you will probably not get the job. (Or, just maybe, you will get your dream job.)

As an employer I have a strong incentive to, as the author would have it, peek through the open window of my potential employee. And I have almost zero blowback for doing so. And until this leads to widespread social unease, that's going to remain true.

So I agree 100 percent with the author's take, but I think it's also very important to be discussing the steps we should take to protect ourselves, and our children, right now, while we wait for society to adjust.


Google makes the World a Cyber Place

Google apparently is well en route to marketing augmented reality glasses.
[Google's augmented reality] glasses will have a low-resolution built-in camera that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby, according to the Google employees. The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly — although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed. Internally, the Google X team has been actively discussing the privacy implications of the glasses and the company wants to ensure that people know if they are being recorded by someone wearing a pair of glasses with a built-in camera. |Google to Sell Heads-Up Display Glasses by Year’s End - New York Times|
Fast Company suspects Google will eventually try to monetize this technology... but that strikes me as a small price to pay for Google making augmented reality a reality.


Heads Up Display in Contact Lenses

Scientific American has a short discussion of the potential of displaying information in a person's contacts or on eyeglasses.

The new system consists of advanced contact lenses working in conjunction with lightweight eyewear.

Normally, the human eye is limited in its ability to focus on objects placed very near it.

The contact lenses contain optics that focus images displayed on the eyewear onto the light-sensing retina in the back of the eye, allowing the wearer to see them properly. Conventional mobile device screens are often too small to read comfortably "and certainly too small to enjoy," Willey said.

In contrast, Innovega's contact lenses could effectively generate displays with a screen size "equivalent to a 240-inch television, viewed at a distance of 10 feet."

Moreover, by projecting slightly different pictures to each eye, the display can generate the illusion of 3D. "You get full 3D, full HD, fully panoramic images," Willey said. |SA|
Based on the article, I believe this technology is still vaporware, but the potential for displaying pixels wirelessly in contact lenses has been demonstrated sufficiently that DARPA is now playing a funding role in developing this technology.

This gives me goosebumps on my fleshy parts.
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