Bonum Certa Men Certa

Computing Will Not Necessarily Make the World a Better Place

Some power is used for more negative than positive (or as a source for good)

Pakistan earthquake



Summary: The vision of "happy world" (because each person has a so-called 'smart' 'phone') is a yuppie delusion that overlooks business models and corporate interests

THE world has a lot of serious problems. Natural disasters, climate issues and inequality are among these. Human suffering ensues. These exacerbate things and partly contribute to intolerance, illness, and sometimes even war. But there's that old myth that distributing so-called 'phones' (tracking devices) to everyone will make the world a better place. In reality, it may simply mean more policing and more discrimination.



"In reality, it may simply mean more policing and more discrimination."Putting aside the privacy abuses associated with these 'smart' RFID-like devices with a growing number of sensors and cores (because Web pages and software rapidly become more bloated), there's also a push to constantly 'upgrade', causing even more waste and a loss of social life (actual, real human contact). Some people in poor countries save to buy a 'phone' rather than sanitary facilities (e.g. toilets). Not a cheap, ordinary phone for making calls (such phones cost very little) but one of those so-called 'phones' that are small computers with minuscule screens and no input devices.

As The Register put it a few days ago, "Hulce has compiled a list of the third-party scripts residing in the top million websites and found that the 100 most common bits of JavaScript eat up about 59 per cent of script execution time."

Much of that is malicious and not in any way intended to improve the experience of users.

"Giving poor people the 'gift' of technology often overlooks the real motivations, e.g. Facebook 'donating' Internet access."Earlier today Booking.com sent an E-mail to everyone who ever used the site, saying: "we're going to start sharing information between the Booking Holdings brands for the purposes described in our updated Privacy Statement." Here they go with "data brokers", surveillance capitalism in action. Companies update their privacy (or surveillance rather) policy and retroactively apply this abuse without asking for consent or giving one the option to opt out. They do this because their corporate lawyers tell them they risk lawsuits for not informing people in advance (even if those people aren't given any other option). "Thanks again for using us in the past, and look out for an even better Booking.com experience in the future," the concluding paragraph states. So they now herald that they're selling all historical data, infringing people's privacy even more.

In recent years many companies other than Google or Facebook resorted to this "business" model, which is passing around data (renting/licensing access to it) and this, in turn, is being exploited to deny people access to critical services (health, finance) and thus lower security (for people, not for corporations).

A lot of people would rather not know about -- let alone understand -- the 'sausage factory' that's linking data and creating 'dossiers' about people. The "data brokers" 'industry', sometimes euphemised as "big data" or "deep learning" and other benign-sounding terms (or job titles like "data scientist") would face widespread condemnation if not popular uprisings and a call for bans (see GDPR) if more people comprehended just what despicable things it is doing. Giving poor people the 'gift' of technology often overlooks the real motivations, e.g. Facebook 'donating' Internet access.

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