This is a moment to ask as we make the planet digital, as we totally envelop ourselves in the computing environment that we’ve been building for the last hundred years, what kind of digital planet do we want? Because we are at a point where there is no turning back, and getting to ethical decisions, values decisions, decisions about democracy, is not something we have talked about enough nor in a way that has had impact.
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So, thirty years ago if you wanted to get a new computer and use it you had to surrender your freedom by installing a user-subjugating proprietary operating system. So I decided to fix that by developing another operating system and make it free, and it’s called GNU, but most the time you’ll hear people erroneously calling it Linux.
Sure, cyberspace is about people and data. But it is also about applications. And devices. And the indirect and non-obvious relationships between all of this. It creates a very complicated and exciting ecosystem. One that is capable of dramatic innovation, and dramatic exploitation.
We’re living in this amazing time. The speed of innovation has created technologies that have literally reimagined industry after industry. Technology has improved almost every tool that we use on a daily basis, and it’s time to start bringing this technology to use for good.
We all see the benefits of active safety systems in cars. But that same safety technology, if attacked, can actually allow you to immobilize a vehicle or even disable breaks while driving.
Imagine your privacy assistant is a computer program that’s running on your smartphone or your smartwatch. Your privacy assistant listens for privacy policies that are being broadcast over a digital stream. We are building standard formats for these privacy policies so that all sensors will speak the same language that your personal privacy assistant will be able to understand.
We have to be aware that when you create magic or occult things, when they go wrong they become horror. Because we create technologies to soothe our cultural and social anxieties, in a way. We create these things because we’re worried about security, we’re worried about climate change, we’re worried about threat of terrorism. Whatever it is. And these devices provide a kind of stopgap for helping us feel safe or protected or whatever.
Although we haven’t reached peak surveillance, we’ve reached peak indifference to surveillance. There will never be another day in which fewer people give a shit about this because there’ll never be a day in which fewer people’s lives have been ruined by this.
As we’re giving our homes this new layer of smartness and intelligence, we’re giving away its ownership to very large organizations. And as we become a generation of renters, what I’m very interested in is how do landlords respond to that?