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?
I’m editing a special edition of the journal, Information, with the title, ‘The End of Privacy?’
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 December 2019
Special Issue Information
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
If our privacy is going out of the window anyway, let’s go the whole hog! Why let the Big Data/Internet of Things future be a plethora of individual apps/processes when it could be just a simple ‘global identity’ for each of us? [‘tongue-in-cheek mode’ enabled]
Let’s concoct a future scenario (extended from a passage in the book) to work with … You’re out for an urban stroll. You buy a bottle of orange juice along your way, and drink it as you’re walking. Half a mile down the road, you throw the empty bottle in a bin. Not that inspiring? OK, let’s IoT/big data it up a bit …
Your exercise is being monitored as you walk. When you buy the bottle, the cost is automatically debited from your bank account. Also the juice’s nutritional information is fed into your fitness tracker along with your steps. At the same time, the juice/bottle’s carbon penalty is added to your personal carbon footprint. If you dispose of the empty bottle in an approved recycling bin, some of that carbon penalty is credited back to you. The balance is your carbon tax to pay, although this is mitigated by an adjustment against your health tax: calculated from your fitness tracker’s juice and steps data. The net cost is also taken directly from your bank.
So, how might that all work?
Now available as eBook and paperback
What makes something sentient? What does it take for an entity to be aware of its own existence and to want to interact with the world of its own accord? Is it a gift from God or hard science? Is it something fundamentally human or animal in nature or is it a simple technological principle based on brain size? There are many models, of course. But, if consciousness is simply a natural product of neural complexity then eventually, in theory, we might build something – a computer or a machine – that was actually big enough to wake up!
Oh, wait …!
The widespread ramblings, which have appeared on this blog over the years, now make a partial contribution to a novel. (See http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/vicgrout)
Vic Grout’s Conscious is set a year or three into the future. The ‘Internet of Everything’ is making the world a more connected place than ever before. People’s lives are becoming increasingly automated. But something odd is happening … ‘Things’ are beginning to misbehave and no-one can work out why. What starts as an amusing inconvenience quickly becomes very serious indeed!
A ragged bunch of academics, scientists and philosophers are on the case – and may know the answer. But now they have to convince people that their crazy explanation is true. And that’s only the start. Against a backdrop of a world suddenly beginning to fall apart, they’re in a race against time to get someone to do anything about it. And not everyone is on their side!