Thin walls and traffic cameras

In the timeline of human history, privacy is relatively recent. It may even be that privacy was an anomaly, that our social natures rely on leakage to thrive, and that we’re nearing the end of a transient time where the walls between us gave us the illusion of secrecy.

But now that technology is tearing down those walls, we need checks and balances to ensure that we don’t let predictions become prejudices. Even when those predictions are based in fact, we must build both context and mercy into the data-driven decisions that govern our quantified future.

David Weinberger: “Leeway is the only way we manage to live together: We ignore what isn’t our business. We cut one another some slack. We forgive one another when we transgress. By bending the rules we’re not violating fairness. The equal and blind application of rules is a bureaucracy’s idea of fairness. Judiciously granting leeway is what fairness is all about. Fairness comes in dealing with the exceptions. [–––] Matters are different in the digital world. Bits are all edges. Nothing is continuous. Everything is precise. Bits are uniform so no exceptions are required, no leeway is permitted. Which brings us to “digital rights management” […]” (Via Ed Felten.)

A very rational take on the fact that, prediction is not an invasion of privacy. And not necessarily a bad thing. That perhaps our “privacy” was a transient anomaly on the path to big data.

It doesn’t spare us though from the need to provide human slack in all things.

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