[FoRK] moar change we can believe in!

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Mon Sep 14 21:10:49 PDT 2009

On Sep 14, 2009, at 4:58 PM, Koen Holtman wrote:
> In my day job I work a bit on pervasive networked sensors and RFID.   
> In
> fact the introduction of these has been less rapid than I would have
> predicted 5-10 years ago.  When you get down to it, making a solid
> business case to roll out this type of technology on a massive scale  
> is
> not that easy.  What we really need is an irrational sensor bubble  
> but I
> am not holding my breath.

Oddly, I've never had to deal with RFID sensors, but an important  
point is that the vast number of exploitable sensor networks were  
never rolled out or designed with any use in mind except very narrow  
and purely benign cases. It is the ability to aggregate and integrate  
these myriad special-purpose sensor networks that no one would ever  
consider to be Big-Brother-esque that creates the most potential.

> The actually existing scary pervasive network-connected sensor  
> device is
> otherwise known as the internet enabled mobile phone.  Data mining
> user-generated internet traffic is also a lot easier than collecting  
> lots
> of camera/sound/sensor/rfid data and correlating it to people  
> afterwards.
> The good news is that, at least for this type of scary pervasive  
> sensor,
> the companies that are technically best placed to capture and mine all
> data generated are still somewhat regulated when it comes to privacy.

Mobile phones are a great source, though I think you overestimate the  
extent to which they are regulated for privacy, but  you could  
eliminate directly monitoring mobile phones at the source without  
significantly reducing the amount of information available. Mobile  
phones are the most visible source, but far from a necessary one.

> Nevertheless technology is on a path where it becomes more and more  
> easy
> for institutions to gather massive amounts of data about individuals.
> This is a threat to the correct functioning of states and markets,  
> because
> it creates new opportunities to game the system for the benefit of a  
> few.

More accurately, the perceived threat is that it creates opportunities  
for people *other* than the entrenched interests.

> - All data about me is my own property, not the property of the  
> people who
> managed to collect it.

Defining "data about me" is damn tricky, and anything that remains is  
susceptible to esoteric analytics that can extract "data about me".

> - If buyer and seller have hugely different access to information you
> cannot have a fair market.

That is not the definition of a fair market.  Also, what is germane  
information with respect to a market is very much in the eye of the  
beholder. One man's crap data is another man's gold mine.

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