Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I have felt for a while that the concentrated powers of high tech get a free pass from scrutiny. The reason why it's relevant to this blog is that false positives and false negatives are the kinds of things you can get away with when no one is holding your feet to the fire. I have a cluster of thoughts that I don't see being expressed anywhere - it's very possible I'm mistaken, but it's something that I think is on the horizon. Recent terror incidents in the U.S. suggest that the types of things that would need to be considered fair game in order to prevent/preempt them are changing. It becomes more of a psychological question, when this notion (either accurate or cynically trumped up) of "homegrown" terror gains credence. And when it becomes more of a psychological question, it becomes OK to ask questions about people's thoughts and ideas even on a quiet day. Supposedly, the ends would justify the means. (And as always, I have room in my conception of how things work for all four quadrants of the FP/TP/FN/TN grid. I'm interested in good police work by good police, and accurate and fair apprehension of true-positive criminals before they are able to commit any human-rights violations. The thing I don't know about is harm to innocents in the course of the authority figure's job, either accidental or deliberate.)

When it becomes OK to ask these questions, it becomes important to talk to people where they are. And where they are is tech. Where they are is their devices, smartphones, PDAs, computers. Therefore, it seems to me that the big concentrated powers of high technology are very likely to be comandeered, semi-nationalized, or enlisted for help in the "war." The NSA asked for help from AT&T and other telcos because they needed to be where the foot traffic is. It seems like a no-brainer to me. So the place where I feel at odds with a lot of people is that this premise colors how I feel about Apple, Adobe, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Motorola maybe, Google, the Blackberry people, and whoever else, Amazon. I am suspicious of them and I am suspicious of the role of coolness, cachet and status in letting them off the hook from a skeptical eye.

No comments:

Post a Comment