Computer Mind Reading vs Privacy

Technology will make ID cards obsolete as face recognition and other biometric technology improves. Affect detection technology (facial expressions, pulse, sweat… think lie detectors) will combine with other database technology effectively to read your mind. Michael Kanellos of CNET discusses these and other issues in “The Paradox of Privacy.”

What is not discussed is why people want privacy. Is this akin to fear of being naked and having everyone see ones physical imperfections? Perhaps we just need more tolerance of those imperfections. Is this desire for privacy more about identity theft? Is so, perhaps stronger identity technologies may be more protective than weaker ones. Are people concerned about the interaction between personal data and persuasive technologies? The solution here is in better training of the mind. But I think in general people object to the failure to use persuasive technology; they object to spam. This objection is not about privacy, but about access. Are people concerned that the government can use these technologies to harass people? The solution is controls on government usage akin to 4th Ammendment protections for search warrants.

I have to say, I too am concerned about the loss of privacy, about computers being able to know who I am and to read my mind, but I am not sure this concern is entirely rational.


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