[extropy-chat] the non-transparent society

Charlie Stross charlie at antipope.org
Thu Mar 8 17:21:07 UTC 2007

Keith Henson wrote:

> That is really bizarre.
> Though I guess it could have been expected by analogy to other acts such as 
> recording sexual encounters.
> I wonder what else might be expected to crop up in the interaction of high 
> tech with stone age brains?

Use of mobile phones and social networking websites for bullying is a
current topic of some concern in the British school system(s).

AIUI the ban on camera phones in Saudi Arabia a few years ago wasn't a
western-style moral panic about upskirt shots, but a response to the
(hushed-up) rape, on camera, of a Saudi princess, on the orders of a
princeling whose advances she'd rejected -- in an honour-based society
that's pretty heavy stuff, and I hope I don't have to lay out the likely
social consequences of it catching on.

I'm perpetually confused by the degree to which lots of folks --
especially in the US, which had ubiquitous land-lines before mobile
phones (in contrast to stodgy Europe, which went mobile faster precisely
because of the monolithic status of the existing entrenched national
telcos) -- fsil to recognize the social implications of mobile phones,
which link people, as opposed to land lines, which link locations.

Next up on the block: within a decade I expect we'll be forgetting what
it's like to be lost, and the next generation will *never* know what
it's like to be lost. Ubiquitous location services are now showing up
embedded in mobile phones, car navigation systems and GPS, and receivers
are getting cheaper and more accurate all the time. What are the
implications of *that*?

The only comparison I've got is the way pocket calculators drove out
slide rules and log tables in the 70s. You can see the consequences
today whenever you go into a store and the drone behind the cash
register can't verify the amount they're charging you because they don't
have the basic arithemtic skills to check the machine -- into which they
can introduce keystroke errors. And you can see it more broadly in
disasters like that Mars probe that JPL and NASA contrived to drop a few
years ago because one site was working in metric and the other in
imperial units. But the concept of paper maps and compasses and the
basic ability to orient onesself in a strange place being lost -- that's
weirding me out.

-- Charlie

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