Category Archives: Politics

Incompleteness, Inconsistency and Those Pesky Words!

With the exception of an image demonstrating an argument so utterly and awfully illogical, it deserves public shaming, this post largely works with abstract cases as examples in the hope of not upsetting quite as many people as it otherwise might.

We start with the background stuff …

Kurt Gödel, in 1931, dropped a bit of a bombshell on a mathematical and logical world (that was quietly believing the opposite) by showing that there are things that can’t be proven or disproven.  In other words, in all ‘vaguely normal’ systems, there are propositions that can be either true or false and it doesn’t really matter.  ‘Mathematics is incomplete‘.  In 1936, Alan Turing proved that there are problems that can’t be computed/solved and the rest of the computer science research community spent the next few decades realising that these were kind of the same thing.

Pretty disastrous, huh?

Well, no, not really.  The mathematical and computer logic world dusted itself off and got on with it.  And anyway, other branches of science – and beyond – had similar problems.  In physics, for example, there’s a limit to how closely you can measure something before you change what you’re trying to measure.  Turns out, in one form or another, ‘incompleteness’ is pretty normal in life.

So, no, incompleteness, isn’t that much of an issue.  (it just means we don’t know everything – in fact, can’t know everything: there’s some bits of science, philosophy, etc., we can’t do from our little three-and-a-half-dimensions backwater of the universe; or we’re not God, if you like.)

However, rather than ‘incompleteness’, something called ‘inconsistency’ would be a problem.  Why?  And what does that look like?

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You’re Not My Dad! (The Kettle Said So)

So what are the chances of a global, on-demand, real-time, publicly-accessible DNA database?  (Or what are the chances of stopping it?)

The increasing simplicity and speed with which DNA testing can now be performed has already changed lives.  Not only can simple issues of parenthood be resolved (sometimes disproved) quickly – often causing great distress, the gradual expansion and combination of DNA databases has exposed relationships previously unrealised and even potentially compromising in private and working lives.

How far could this go?

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Call for Papers: ‘The End of Privacy?’

I’m editing a special edition of the journal, Information, with the title, ‘The End of Privacy?’

https://www.mdpi.com/journal/information/special_issues/End_of_Privacy

Contributions welcome!

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 December 2019

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We all know how hard technological forecasting can be. The technology itself, even in isolation, can be difficult to predict a few years into the future, but taking into account the wider social, legal, political, economic, environmental and demographic fallout, and throwing in some ethics and morality too, it becomes next to impossible. There’s too much to think about. Whilst some of us might have an idea of where, for example, the Internet of Things might be in five years’ time or, separately, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, big data analytics, network connectivity, etc., putting it all together into a vision of this fully-automated, AI/big-data-driven, always-on/always-connected world is probably beyond most of us.

Thus the plan here is to focus on one issue that all these factors impact upon, personal privacy, and to pose a fairly simple question: Will it be possible to have personal data (secrets) in the world that future technology will bring us into? What possibilities (benefits and threats) will new technology open us up to? From individuals up to governments and corporations, how easily will information be shared and (how) can it be secured? To what extent can we realistically be protected by legislation? Where will politics and economics be brought to bear? Ultimately, what control will we have? Continue reading


No More Privacy Any More? (Just putting this out there)

OK, some of this material isn’t new but I’ve been asked to edit a special (Information) journal edition on (something like) ‘Will AI, Big Data and the IoT Mean the End of Privacy?’  The plan is to circulate a ‘discussion paper’ to encourage submissions.  What follows is an early draft of that (extended from The Prof on a Train Game) so it won’t hurt to get it ‘out there’ as soon as possible.  Comments welcome below, by email, message, whatever …

Abstract

The embodiment of the potential loss of privacy through a combination of AI, big data and IoT technology might be something like an integrated app capable of recognising anyone, anytime, anywhere: a sort of ‘Shazam for People‘, but one capable of returning seriously personal material about the individual.  How credible is such a system?  And what might stop it?

Introduction: A Future Scenario?

It’s 2025 or thereabouts.  You meet someone at an international conference.  Even before they’ve started to introduce themselves, your IoT augmented reality glasses have told you everything you needed to know … and a lot more you didn’t.

Jerry Gonzales. Born (02/11/1970): Glasgow, UK, dual (plus USA) citizenship; 49 years old. Married 12/12/1994 (Ellen Gonzales, nee Schwartz), divorced 08/06/2003; two daughters (Kate: 23, Sarah: 17); one son (David: 20). Previous employment: Microsoft, IBM, University of Pwllheli; current: unemployed. Health: smoker, heavy drinker, recurrent lung problems, diabetic, depression. Homeowner (previous); now public housing. Credit rating: poor (bankruptcy 10/10/2007); Insurance risk: high. Politics: Republican. etc., …,  Sport: supports Boston Red Sox and Manchester United FC. …,  Pornography: prefers straight but with mild abuse …,  etc., etc.

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