Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You're Leaving a Digital Trail. What About Privacy?

ACM TechNews picked up an article published in The New York Times on how new technologies and the Internet's incursion into every aspect of life is creating what is coming to be called 'collective intelligence'.

While collective intelligence offers powerful capabilities, such as improving the efficiency of advertising or giving community groups new organizational capabilities, it is clear to all that, if misused, collective intelligence tools could create an Orwellian future on an unprecedented scale. Collective intelligence could be used by insurance companies, for example, to covertly identify people suffering from a particular disease and then deny them insurance coverage. Or the government or law enforcement could identify members of a protest group by monitoring social networks.
“There are so many uses for this technology — from marketing to war fighting — that I can’t imagine it not pervading our lives in just the next few years,” says Steve Steinberg, a computer scientist who works for an investment firm in New York.
Steinberg argues in a well-known Web posting that there were significant chances it would be misused, "This is one of the most significant technology trends I have seen in years; it may also be one of the most pernicious.”

See more in The New York Times.