Thursday, December 26, 2019

Putting the “Author” in “Authoritative”

John Wilander:

We’ve had a reasonable debate over the right to be forgotten. The next one will be about the right to lie. Not the right to lie in court or as part of some fraud, but the right to everyday lies and white lies. Digital surveillance deprives is of this important part of life.

For whatever reason, I might be ashamed or shy about my age/looks/past/job/health/sexual preferences/race/ethnicity/beliefs/political views/abilities/education/family history etc. It’s valid to lie about such in everyday life. Tracking and ML should not interfere with that right.

Via Peter Hosey:

When we try to automatically verify someone’s identity using whatever scraps of information they’ve given us, or to let them board a plane with their face, we treat the data we have on someone as being necessarily, implicitly the same as their actual truth. We assume/trust/bet that the data we have matches the truth; that they are the same as each other, and therefore the record can tell us the truth.


Back in the present, our system of mass-surveillance/data-brokerage/(whatever facet you want to look at) is one that promises convenience. It promises to enable its users, its querents, to learn (or verify) information about a subject without their involvement (which implies without their consent). It promises to enable the construction of other systems, automated themselves, to fulfill the function of querent, to ask the questions about us that the record-keeping system promises to be able to answer.


The more data we assemble on everyone, the more we can automate. And the automated systems feed data back, and contribute more.


Update (2019-12-27): Sander Van Dragt:

Generally speaking, tracking takes away your ability to represent who you are yourself in the current moment. Your identity is how you are perceived by others. People won’t appreciate this until they’ve lost it, but anyone who has been the victim of for example online bullying or stalking will recognise it.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

[…] Tracking impacts your human rights to identify yourself […]

>The next one will be about the right to lie. Not the right to lie in court
>or as part of some fraud, but the right to everyday lies and white lies

I don't think we should discount the importance of doing illegal things in order to create social change. Even if these systems only prevented truly illegal behavior, that might still be bad overall. China is an obvious example for this. A lot of the things that are illegal in that country would be things that many of us would qualify as positive for society.

An example closer to home would be something like bathroom bills, which prevent people from using the bathroom that matches the gender they present as. Breaking that law might be an important part of creating social progress.

The other thing here is that there are so many laws that we all break a few of them form time to time. These include regular things we all do knowingly, like gambling, breaking speed limits, violating drug laws, accidental (or not so accidental) tax evasion, breaking sodomy laws, or piracy laws. But they can also be things we aren't even aware of, like owning a sharpie as a minor in Oklahoma City. Everybody did something illegal at some point in their life, and will do so again. Complete surveilance means that we all become vulnerable to selective enforcement, which means that whoever controls the executive branch of the governmant basically controls our lives.

Presidential candidates already suffer from this. All of them did something bad in the past, and now we all know about it, so the only person who can still win is somebody who did so many bad things that we just accept it as part of their personality and shrug if off.

[…] Michael Tsai – Blog – Putting the “Author” in “Authoritative” – […]

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