English: Ana Marie Cox, founder of American po...

English: Ana Marie Cox, founder of American political blog Wonkette; cell phone photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ana Marie Cox on privacy vs security, from the Guardian

So much here I agree with without reservations. I first encountered Ms. Cox on Wonkette, and I have to say it has become a slightly diminished thing without her presence. In fact, I used to read it every day, ten years or so ago when she was there, but started visiting only occasionally after she left.

The line which resonated most strongly with me in this piece is

We’ve lost the habit of keeping things to ourselves – and with that, we’ve lost the conviction that privacy is a right.” I have been thinking about this lately, about how our spheres of personal space have shrunk so dramatically in the past decade, roughly. Is it a coincidence that as the incidences of our being subjected to listening to others gab on about every little thing, all the time, have increased, that the prevalence of market based “solutions” to the dismay and discomfort created by these impositions have increased? Most likely not. I refer here to more drugs to control (interesting word) every little physical or psychological tic, more money-making methods to provide us with relaxation and exercise, more methods to make us, as Radiohead put it “fitter, happier”. Prescient guy, that Thom Yorke.
OK Computer, that track in particular, has a computer synthesized voice whispering sweet nothings meant to soothe us. Really, though, it’s creepy. Sixteen years ago, synthesized voices quite obviously were a machine talking, regardless of how human they attempted to seem. Fast forward to today, and not only do we have devices in our cars and in our pockets which talk to us in voices that have lost, mostly, that “computercreep” factor (you can even get a directional system for your auto that will tell you where to go in the voice of one of your favorite teevee characters!), but a lot of us can talk to our devices and have them recognize and respond to our entreaties. I do it, on occasion, for the sake of convenience (TYPE the words?! Bah!) or the sheer novelty. I can’t, and frankly don’t want to, lose the sense of how outright fucking bizarre that is. I have the feeling that our machines are learning from us as we interact with them on increasingly intimate levels. Learning, and slowly, subtly convincing us that they are indispensable and that they are our best, and most understanding, companions.After all, a lot of us, especially the millenials, spend more time on a daily basis interacting with them than with those pesky and difficult IRL folks. Down that way lies a kind of madness, or at the very least a radical, and I am not convinced entirely “advanced” change, on what it means to be human. My beloved Blake spoke of the Satanic mills and the dangers they foretold, and we are increasingly ceding control of our existences to machines and their insidious demands. Is this truly a positive development in the evolution of our species? A big part of me thinks “no, it absolutely isn’t”.

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