No matter what the future may contain, one thing is certain: just about everything in it, including us, will increasingly be under surveillance.
Our habits, patterns, health, and preferences will be translated into data.
Who will benefit from this valuable information, and how can we start developing the mindset to deal with this reality now? To get started, let’s filter a few core concepts and tough questions through our imaginations.
The concept of privacy is relative, and it may be a luxury, but it’s good when people are able to relax, think, live and create without fearing that curiosity and exploration will come back to haunt them.
Surveillance limits our freedom, but it could also allow us to save lives. For example, if there are detectable patterns that lead to genocide (and experts say there are), could public surveillance in Myanmar lead to the prevention of what some fear is rapidly becoming a mass scale humanitarian crisis for the country’s Muslims?
If we could see such events before they escalate, what would we do about it? Is the possibility of detecting and preventing calamities, which we’ve never been able to do before, worth the loss of privacy in public places?
Maybe real life in a surveillance environment will resemble a massively multiplayer game, and maybe it will retain some of the individual character of life as we now perceive it, but my guess is that some blend of the two will occur. Game designer Richard Garriott de Cayeux (AKA Lord British) is working on a new project, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, which gives us a glimpse of the possible future of ethics in a surveillance state that invisibly watches and judges.
The story line in many games is that you are the hero and you fight your way up to the final battle against some evil character. Often, the player who is supposed to be the hero does all kinds of evil things on his way to gaining power on the path of least resistance, while the bad guy often has done nothing but wait for the supposed hero to arrive for deadly combat. In response to this paradigm, Garriott created a system for Ultima IV made up of eight virtues: honesty, love, valor, justice, self-sacrifice, honor, spirituality and humility. As the hero progresses through the game, he still has all the usual opportunities to lie, cheat and steal. Later, however, the hero’s delusion of supremacy is shattered when his tally of misdeeds is revealed, requiring an ethical do-over in order to win.
via FastCoExist – Rita J. King
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