Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: behavior surveillance

Reimann Sum(feat. Technology)

Technology has quite literally transformed our lives. We live in an age of undeniable prosperity and freedom, where even our poorest live a better life than ancient kings. But in recent years the very technologies that we use for pleasure have been turned against us by governments and bad-faith actors. Of course we don't live in an era of absolute freedom; we agree to cede some of our rights for safety and security. For example, we as a society agree on the use of surveillance cameras as a means of deterrence and protection, but are we ready to make the leap to facial ID? We agree that police should use DNA testing to solve crime, but what about an artificial intelligence reconstruction of a criminal that may present flaws?

One of the most striking paragraphs from Big Brother came up on page 42 when Cory Doctorow discussed how despite advancements in gait recognition software allowed recognition of individuals from their movements, the software's success rate was reduced by any number of external factors including floor material, ankle angle measure, and your energy level. This variability can lead to errors in the system which can often have devastating consequences, especially when peoples' lives and security hang in the balance. The title, I believe, accurately reflects our society's desire to perfect our creations: we input more data points, update more software, create new tools, in a never-ending journey to create the perfect AI tool. But at what point do the ethical complications from such a tool lead to sufficient harm such that an objective cost-benefit analysis would overturn the progress of such a tool? No matter how many data points we inject, a piece of technology will never perfectly emulate the human mind. Every error/mistake that's caused by the inaccuracy of technology threatens our stability, and is only magnified as the scope of the instrument exists. One particular example exists in the NSA. What would be the fallout of an inaccurate terror watch list that was compiled using the latest data points? Although this question is astronomical, it is important that we examine this issue with the utmost scrutiny.

Social Media as Proof Surveillance Affects Behaviour

“In his book Discipline and Punish, philosopher Michel Foucault describes how surveillance operates as a mechanism of control. When inmates believe they are being watched, they conform to what they believe to be the norms of the prison and the expectations of their jailors. Surveillance is a mechanism by which powerful entities assert their power over less powerful individuals.”

This quote well summarizes the effects of surveillance we have studied and discussed in class. People act differently when they are surveilled and it is for that reason people need privacy and privacy is a human right. This idea is illustrated in the podcast about Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. The Panopticon is circular jail building with a watchman in the center who cannot watch all prisoners at once so the inmates are not able to tell when they are being watched. Therefore, the prisoners behave as though they are being watched. I think this effect of surveillance affects teens’ use of social media today. When using social media sites, such as Facebook, teens accept that they can be surveilled and thus they act accordingly. For example, our parents advise us not to post pictures on social media that we would not want our potential employers to see.

The result of a difference in behavior when being surveilled means online activity does not always reflect our genuine selves to the degree human interaction can. Knowing that they are being surveilled, many teens tend to post the best parts of their lives. When looking at a teen’s Instagram profile, it tends to look like a carefully curated highlight reel. This is more evidence that we act differently with surveillance. It is ironic that social media is a means to connect people but at the same time, it distances people because we do not portray our most genuine selves as we do with human interaction.

Is data mining the key to preventing campus violence?

The central argument of "Mining student data could save lives" by Michael Morris is that data mining of students could be the key preventive solution to stopping acts of violence on campuses. After utilizing data mining after attacks had occurred revealed huge warning signs that led to eventual shootings, universities realized that technology exists that would allow them to study potential warning signs and then take action. The information is already within their access, its just a matter of getting it screened and to then detect what future behaviors may be. While in retrospect this seems like the most ideal solution to preventing campus attacks, it calls a lot of privacy vs. security issues into question. Is it morally and ethically correct to have behavioral surveillance on unknowing students?

This kind of behavioral surveillance occurs on a daily basis;students have been "systematically forfeiting its rights to online privacy over the past several years through the continued and increased use of services on the Internet” (Morris). So if we are content with data mining that only is getting information on us in order to show us more things to spend money on, shouldn't we also be content with data mining that can determine our safety? I agree that data mining can be the key and necessary way to enacting campus safety. A college campus should prioritize the safety of its students, especially considering the large amount of money spent to attend. But before any interception, a thorough analysis of any potential threat should obviously take place. Certain protective measures should be put in place to effectively avoid any chance of a false threat. But since the technology is there and exists to keep more people safe, it certainly should be taken advantage of.

 

 

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