Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Last Things: Cold Comfort in the Far Future

What is the Future of the Sharing Economy?

Don’t Diss Dystopias: Sci-fi’s warning tales are as important as its optimistic stories.

And The Least Peaceful Places On Earth Are… | Global Peace Index 2014

Supertasking and Mindfulness

Will Brain Wave Technology Eliminate the Need for a Second Language?


ieet books

A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Mind-Uploading
Author
Keith Wiley


comments

hankpellissier on 'Supertasking and Mindfulness' (Sep 30, 2014)

bubble13 on 'How Do You Filter Content in an Age of Abundance?' (Sep 29, 2014)

Dick Burkhart on 'The Obvious Relationship Between Climate and Family Planning—and Why We Don’t Talk About' (Sep 29, 2014)

instamatic on 'Dawkins and the "We are going to die" -Argument' (Sep 29, 2014)

Taiwanlight on 'Dawkins and the "We are going to die" -Argument' (Sep 27, 2014)

Farrah Greyson on 'Are Technological Unemployment and a Basic Income Guarantee Inevitable or Desirable?' (Sep 27, 2014)

instamatic on 'Dawkins and the "We are going to die" -Argument' (Sep 26, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Transhumanism and Marxism: Philosophical Connections

Sex Work, Technological Unemployment and the Basic Income Guarantee

Technological Unemployment but Still a Lot of Work…

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Why and How Should We Build a Basic Income for Every Citizen?
Sep 16, 2014
(14550) Hits
(7) Comments

MMR Vaccines and Autism: Bringing clarity to the CDC Whistleblower Story
Sep 14, 2014
(5264) Hits
(1) Comments

An open source future for synthetic biology
Sep 9, 2014
(5070) Hits
(0) Comments

Steven Pinker’s Guide to Classic Style
Sep 11, 2014
(4127) Hits
(0) Comments



IEET > Security > Rights > Privacy > Life > Access > Vision > Fellows > Jamais Cascio

Print Email permalink (1) Comments (1422) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Ambiveillance


Jamais Cascio
By Jamais Cascio
Open the Future

Posted: Aug 22, 2013

One of the first rules one is taught as a futurist-in-training is to avoid “normative scenarios”—forecasts that describe what you want to see, even when the signals and evidence at hand make the scenario highly unlikely. This is much more of a challenge than non-futurists may think, as a good scenarist can usually come up with a plausible set of early indicators and distant early warnings to support just about any forecast. If one’s work focuses on issues that have a strong ethical component (around human rights, for example, or the global environment) the problem is further multiplied.

 

One of the reasons I've been running silent over the past month or so has been the explosion of news around government (and corporate) surveillance of the Internet. Not that I'm especially worried about my own stuff -- I have a fairly public life, and have few secrets worth knowing. But the implications for the futures of privacy, security, commerce, communications, big data, and so forth are so enormous that I'm still trying to wrap my mind around where this is all going. And the desire to imagine normative scenarios about the potential outcomes is almost overwhelming.

Reality has a bad habit of undermining desired futures. Here's a non-privacy example: If you have a moral stance that says that individual access to guns should be strictly controlled or prohibited in the U.S., you may wish to imagine future outcomes where such restrictions are possible and widely accepted. But the evolution of 3D printers has made that kind of future highly implausible, as designs for 3D-printer-friendly firearms have now emerged and spread.

As long as 3D printers are available, it will be extremely difficult to eliminate or control access to firearms, and as 3D printers become more capable, we'll see increasingly diverse and powerful printable weapons. Any discussions of "gun control" that don't acknowledge this are doomed to imminent irrelevance.

So when we think about the future of privacy, surveillance, and related concepts, one of the first questions we need to ask is "what real-world conditions constrain our possible futures?" What are the technical aspects of privacy and surveillance, and what kinds of changes would have to happen to shift the balance between the two? 

What are the political barriers? For example, if a leader took positive steps to reduce government surveillance, and subsequently a major terrorist attack happened, how likely is it that the public (and certainly the political opponents of said leader) would link the two? If the technological standards underlying the present-day Internet make full privacy essentially impossible -- not just vis-a-vis government snoops but also corporate "big data" behavior analysis -- who would actually have the capability to construct a more secure alternative?

I'm still thinking.


Jamais Cascio is a Senior Fellow of the IEET, and a professional futurist. He writes the popular blog Open the Future.
Print Email permalink (1) Comments (1423) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


I think a question for ethics is:  can the good still be perceived and actualized regardless of any present or future facts?  I think all the scenarios we choose are normative, and we won’t know them fully (or close to fully) until we’re plugging away at them.  Speculation about future roadblocks isn’t yet practical reason at work, and so what’s better than being secure is being confident.





YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: On Consciousness and the Brain

Previous entry: Evolving Democracy and STEAMing BIG History

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376