The Silicon Valley Metronews features my article “World Cyberwar And the Inevitability of Radical Transparency.” The topic is both ongoing and ever-new. I discuss how WikiLeaks ignited the first international cyber war — and how pro-business laws enacted to promote the growth of Silicon Valley’s digital media and technology companies inadvertently nurtured transformation activists shaking up and toppling governments around the world.
With this fresh look at the cyber wars. I zero especially on several main examples… e.g the surprising ways that Julian Assange helped U.S. foreign policy far more than he harmed it… plus the ongoing battle between police and citizens armed with cameras… and much more.
Never before have so many people been empowered with practical tools of transparency. Beyond access to instantly searchable information from around the world, nearly all of us now carry in our pockets a device that can take still photographs and video, then transmit the images anywhere. Will the growing power of elites to peer down at us—surveillance—ultimately be trumped by a rapidly augmenting ability of citizens to look back at those in power—or “sousveillance”?
=== One-sided Transparency ===
H.P. and Cisco Systems Inc. will help China build a massive surveillance network in the city of Chongqing — aimed at crime prevention. The technological part of it is impressive, as it will “cover a half-million intersections, neighborhoods and parks over nearly 400 square miles, an area more than 25% larger than New York City.” This extensive surveillance system may potentially implement as many as 500,000 cameras, far more even than the 8,000 to 10,000 surveillance cameras estimated to exist in cities like New York. Yet — note that few of those New York cameras report to a centralized system.
The anti-crime benefits of such systems might be achievable without tyranny — if citizens were equally empowered to look back at the mighty, via “sousveillance.” But such reciprocality is not likely in the near Chinese future. Human rights activists worry that such extensive surveillance will inevitably be used for other purposes — to target political protests.
Are companies responsible for how their products are used? In a recent Wall Street Journal poll, over half responded that U.S. companies should be allowed to sell high-tech surveillance tech to China. Meanwhile, H.P. executive Todd Bradley dodged the issue, commenting that “It’s not my job to really understand thewhat they’re going to use it for.”
Meanwhile, in New York City, there are 238 license plate readers. Many of these are mobile devices, mounted on the back of patrol cars. Others are set up at fixed posts at bridges, tunnels and highways across the city. These license plate readers have helped in the tracking down of major crimes suspects; they have provided also clues in homicide cases and other serious crimes. But they have been used in lesser offenses, such as identifying and locating stolen cars. But there are concerns. The police have established an extensive database tracking citizens’ driving patterns. How long is this data maintained and who can access the information?
Meanwhile, Cracked gives us six legit ways cops can screw us over… including the fact Asset Forfeiture is factored into their budget. Or in other words, if cops weren’t allowed to seize our stuff and sell it, even without proof of a crime, they’d suffer budget shortfalls.
====Looking toward the Far Future====
NASA’s Hundred Year Starship and the Yucca Mountain nuclear depository are two examples of “deep time” thinking — casting our eyes over the next horizon, anticipating the needs of our descendants. While top priority must go to freedom, progress, full brains for all kids and saving the planet — some ambitious, forward-looking innovation and commitment to our grandchildren must be on the agenda.
Japanese scientists announced that massive deposits of the 17 elements used to produce hybrid cars, laptops, smartphones and other high-tech devices can be extracted from nodules on the floor of the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. Nodules were first touted as setting off a sub-sea boom in sci fi stories way back in the 1950s. I certainly spoke of this in more detail… in EARTH (1989). But will it be economic to retrieve these resources?
For real? Israel will be using new technology to get oil from oil shale in the Shfela Basin. There’s an estimated 250 billion barrels vs the Saudi’s 260 billion barrels. This article is clearly biased and somewhat polemically exaggerated – and conveniently ignores Rupert Murdoch’s deep bed-buddyness with certain pretro princes. Still, if it is even half true….
The Educational Value of Creative Disobedience: Read this article in Scientific American by Andrea Kuszewski about teaching children how to solve problems creatively, instead of flooding them with memorized information. It really is worth your time.
A lovely portrayal of the scaling of the universe: ranging from moons and planets, to galaxies and clusters: Play this at full-screen. Enjoy the beauty and majesty of it all.
Are the Japanese making human clones? Actually, just putting your face on a robot!