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Privacy vs SciFi

Scott Adams has a good rundown on just what could be at the Dilbert blog post Privacy versus Efficiency. You may have noted that some squawk in terror tones anytime they think their privacy is being abridged – consider what happened at Google’s recent privacy policy update. Adams starts by noting that there is a price for everything.

If I offered you $100 to make your web browsing history public on an ongoing basis, would you take it? Probably not. Most people value their Internet privacy more than a hundred bucks. But suppose I offered you a billion dollars instead. Now can I look at your browser history forever? I think most people would say yes. My point is that your privacy is already for sale. It’s just unlikely anyone will offer you enough money to close a deal.

He tend takes up the example of going out to dinner and a movie with a few friends. What would happen if …?

You can imagine a hundred more applications that make sense for a world in which a smartphone owner’s identity and location are continuously transmitted to the immediate environment. Almost every routine activity would be smoother and friendlier. You would wait in shorter lines, and always see the most relevant choices for your particular situation. Public transportation would be so efficient that no one would want to use a private car inside a city.

This reminds me of one thing I find interesting in watching SciFi movies. Many have displays. Are they flat screen or CRT? How about the loss of signal indications in the image? The famous Star Trek doors are another concept that is right down the thought experiment Adams described. When you look at the military efforts these days with one shot one kill becoming prevalent, the Star Wars blasting everything everywhere concept tends to be a wonder.

Of course, one of the big problems in the scenario presented is that you’d have to spend more time looking at your cell phone display than looking at where you are going. I guess solving that problem was saved for another day.

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