Dear Dirty America


Free Services & Smart Devices In Exchange for Your Data

Free Services & Smart Devices In Exchange for Your Data
March 14
17:08 2014

(re-posted with commentary at Rake the Light)

It’s not difficult to imagine that in the near future even the remotest regions of our planet will be Internet-capable and connected. What is disturbing is that the same ubiquitous online connectivity will be happening in your home. Every last appliance and device will, in the coming years, be instilled with ‘smart’ technology.

It’s like your toaster oven and refrigerator and even your toothbrush would have been given souls. They will be alive, active, and collecting all your data. Your refrigerator will remind you that if you keep buying frozen pizzas and stacking them in the freezer, inevitably you’re going to eat them and continue feeling like shit.

Your toothbrush, which will have Bluetooth connection, will inform you that you’re brushing your teeth too hard, or too lightly, or you forgot to brush them the night before. “Why didn’t you brush last night?” it might ask. “You didn’t come home last night, did you.”

And your toilet might kindly remind you that you’re awfully low on fiber. “I’m swallowing a lot of poorly processed dairy and enriched white flour. This is not good for your health in the long run. Your doctor will not be happy when she looks over the results in your file.” A file that would be updated automatically, over and over again, every minute of your connected, modern fucking life.

I’m not making this up. Financial Times takes a speculative glance at what happens when Silicon Valley gets through with updating our lives to all ‘smart’ devices, which seems ineluctable at this point, and they’ll tout the blessings and benefits of this sort of data-collection lifestyle. How convenient and happy our lives will be!

The trendies will love it and embrace it and never take off their Google Glasses, even while they are giving their ‘smart’ toilets another mouthful.

So it’s imagined:

A fridge that not only knows that you are running out of milk but can do something about it sounds empowering. Yet in the longer term there is a more consequential side: sensors and internet connectivity are also turning “dumb” gadgets into powerful vehicles of prediction and speculation. The data they capture can be integrated with data from other gadgets and databases to create new information commodities whose value might eclipse the value of the gadgets used to generate the underlying data. Soon, the devices might even be given away for free.

Consider your toothbrush. Armed with a sensor that knows when you are using it, it can detect behaviour patterns – how often you use it (or not use, as the case might be) – that help determine when you should see the dentist. That prediction would be more accurate if some other sensor-equipped gadget – say, a smart fork – knew how much sugar you consumed. The more data-tracking devices are hooked to the network, the more accurate the predictions (source)

Google_Glass_Vogue_PhotoshootWe’ve been exchanging our data and online activity for free apps and web browser service, but the great financiers and entrepreneurs of our age will see the treasure trove of information that can be snatched when every human in the industrialized world switches to all ‘smart’ devices in their homes.

Every daily activity will produce results for savvy online marketplaces to pinpoint exactly what you need, what you are desiring, and when you will order it.

If that sounds like a Utopian reality for many Americans, it is a disaster for others. Imagine every appliance and device you use at home connected to the same network. You really have to trust in your government, the corporate sphere that dominates our buying and selling and money flow, and that those with power over this supremely centralized system will look after you and the best interests of the collective.

Who will be in charge of this network? What happens when you challenge the system? What happens when a politician with truly good intentions to change Draconian laws and mass surveillance or unlawful killing of American citizens overseas gains strength in the polls? How easy will it be to hang out his dirty laundry? How easy it will be to clamp down on any true resistance or leaders of popular protests against the system.

Shut down their existence and their ability to live in a world that is completely connected and under surveillance. The more we rely on a lifestyle of interconnected ‘smart’ devices, the easier it is going to be for our global elite to control every last facet of our lives, and dictate how they should be lived.

Think of how Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was shut out by the major global banks after he exposed brutal American war crimes in Iraq. Amazon kicked WikiLeaks off their servers, and Senator Joe Lieberman praised the move. It is becoming possible to simply flip a switch and erase any person from a modern society that is so tightly controlled and organized there is no room to live outside it.

We’re heading toward a dazzling nightmare. There’s good reason to be in awe at the shiny new devices that advanced science and technology will bring us, and possibly even give to us for free in the future. But what are we giving in return? We’d better have the conversation as a people, a society, a nation, as a world, because it’s happening extremely fast.

[Big Data toaster oven from Intel Free Press]

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