Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies


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

We’ll Only Have a Year to Prepare For a Cataclysmic Super-Eruption

Medical 3D Printing

Why Did We Stop Going To The Moon?

This is Where the Rosetta Spacecraft Is Going to Die

Skepticism and the Meaning of Life

Baby diapers inspired this new way to study the brain


ieet books

Philosophical Ethics: Theory and Practice
Author
John G Messerly


comments

RJP8915 on 'The Community Delusion: “We” are not the world.' (Jul 30, 2016)

instamatic on 'The Community Delusion: “We” are not the world.' (Jul 30, 2016)

RJP8915 on 'The Community Delusion: “We” are not the world.' (Jul 30, 2016)

Pdavis on 'We’ll Only Have a Year to Prepare For a Cataclysmic Super-Eruption' (Jul 30, 2016)

instamatic on 'The Community Delusion: “We” are not the world.' (Jul 29, 2016)

Pastor_Alex on 'Moral Enhancement and Moral Freedom: A Critical Analysis' (Jul 29, 2016)

RJP8915 on 'The Community Delusion: “We” are not the world.' (Jul 28, 2016)







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

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Existential Risks Are More Likely to Kill You Than Terrorism
Jul 8, 2016
(4393) Hits
(1) Comments

Transparent Smart Chargepoints and the Internet of Things
Jul 16, 2016
(4162) Hits
(1) Comments

Reverse Turing Tests: Are Humans Becoming More Machine-Like?
Jul 21, 2016
(4151) Hits
(0) Comments

Is America on the Verge of Civil War?
Jul 7, 2016
(3715) Hits
(8) Comments



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

Print Email permalink (1) Comments (2260) 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 (2261) 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.

East Coast Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-428-1837

West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
425 Moraga Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611
Email: hank @ ieet.org