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4/9/13 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Sunday, April 14, 2013 6:25 AM
4/9/13 questions and discussion

1-how much scrutiny can we stand?4
2-on a scale of 1 to 10 how close are we to "1984?"5
3-how responsible are we for our actions in the context of moral luck?8
4-how does technology affect our right to privacy?10/8
5-what's more dangerous to democracy: big business or big government?10
6-how important is honesty and trust in government and business?7
7-is there a constitutional right to drive?6
8-is it possible that we have a constitutional right to internet access?8


how do advances technology affect our right to privacy?

Lynn/Phillip: this question arises out of our recent discussion/experienc­e here concerning our being photoed/recorded here. Today aircraft are being used to spy on US homes. I went to a Brookstone store recently and saw their remote helicopter, complete with its own built in camera. It can be controlled with a smartphone. I'm seeing lots of those black domes on the ceilings of stores and restaurants. We have more tools for violating privacy now and more of us have access to those tools.

Marla: we were discussing this at home too. Using Google one can do this investigating as well. One concern: my nephew is job hunting -- he has a post-graduate degree -- and the pictures and comments from his younger rowdier days on Facebook page are still there! He hasn't used the page for a long time and still hasn't gotten around to editing it or destroying it. It's unnerving that potential/actual employers can look at this stuff. How many times do other websites obtain data on us like this? 

Jon: is it bad for an Internet retailer to gather shopping data and more personal data about you via their website?

Andrew: in England, the law requires websites default to assuming we're not interested in being on mailing lists. So, in the UK you must request those things from websites. Here, we are responsible for opting out of requesting being followed. If we don't, they can legally assume we wish to be on their list.

Marla: so that may just mean a lot more email/spam. It hasn't hurt me like it has others, but it can.

Andrew: a tipping point came for London and the debate about installing closed circuit cameras at every intersection in London in response to the troubles between Britain and Ireland. cameras on traffic lights can be used there for any kind of criminal behavior search. Of course, not here! It's less about government (they've always been doing a variety of kinds of spying on citizenry) than about how now we citizens can do it too. People have been doing this forever too but now because of the ease of obtaining methods of spying, one is more likely to get caught doing something wrong.

Jim: if we "lose the right to be an idiot," that takes away half the fun in life!

Andrew: now every politician is scrutinized unlike ever before. Maybe this is how we've ended up with such dull candidates. 

Meg: [as we sit here, Meg is following live the Twins game stats with her smartphone]. Things like Facebook change constantly. Still, people are putting their lives out there on Facebook and don't bother to inform themselves as to how to use the website's privacy settings. Don't post "I'm going on vacation!" I'm not concerned so much for myself, but I have also not been burned by this.

Andrew: we can opt out of Facebook. 

Meg: that is true. People just aren't as aware of how the data can be used. A story:  a mother and her son were out walking in their neighborhood when they saw a through a house's window the man who lived there walking naked. The mother sued for public indecency and the man sued for peeping!

Jon: are you just as concerned about advertisers spying on you online?

Meg: I'm not too worried. I usually don't care because I'm not doing anything wrong. 

Andrew: is it worse if government or business is watching?

Meg: government has more of my best interests at heart [Jim's head explodes].

Jon: the NSA is constantly surveilling? Our email, using super duper computers. Anyone worried about that?

Meg: at the same time I am not real trusting of government. As long as they stay within our laws; what concerns me is spying outside the law.

Jim: the US constitution is restrictive. It acts as a restraint on our behavior. Some of the fun things I did when I was younger were fun, innocuous, and I'll admit sometimes dangerous. If the whole world knew about some of those things it could affect my employment, my housing, my freedom. I say what I want to say here at Socrates Cafe without fear because I know you and trust you not to try to harm me.

Dick: do you think Bad Guys might be looking at our meeting's notes online?

Jim: that is a real concern. I have a friend who when doing his job as an investigator uses Facebook consistently. Sometimes it's a joke. The idea that government has a benign interest in gathering private data on us is a dangerous thought. This goes for business behavior too. I use a cloud service and they definitely keep track of too much about me.

Andrew: Facebook mistakes are just stupid!

Jim: sure, but one ought not be affected/harmed by foolish things they posted there as kids.

John: can someone post something about me on their Facebook page?

Meg: it depends on whether they embed a link, or your last name, or if you have been "tagged."

Jon: what do we think about merchandisers using our internet clicks to target ads at us?

Jim: it infuriates me. It's a business model we should be afraid of.

Andrew: is the government more of a concern than private business (subcontractors)?

Jim: private companies haven't done any Holocausts, or killed millions of Chinese. 

Steve: DuPont poison in India?

Jim: that's shared responsibility between government and private industry. I'm more afraid of government because they have guns.

Andrew: are you more concerned about a government tracking speeders than a private google earth drone?

Jim: yes.

Andrew: but government doesn't do much of the public cameras, it's more so a  private effort.

John: when we adopted a capitalist welfare state we gave up a lot of privacy. We get SSN and Medicare and these concern data that we consider private but that could be used against us. Our government could use Census data too (but it doesn't). Issues of trust-violations are overblown. Jim gives way too much credit for our government's nefarious intentions in our government. A world without government is a lot more dangerous than one without government. We haven't really asked if increased technology might instead result in *more* rights and *greater* freedoms. Do we have more or less rights/freedoms now?

Vivian: the more I post online, the more you know me. As that data accumulates it can be used as a character support too.

Meg: as to whether we can have other people's information on Facebook without your their consent: our family has a Facebook page with (very old) stuff in it that included a racial epithet made by an ancestor a couple generations ago. One our family members was docked points for it by her employer! it's on her record. Zero tolerance policy.

Margarete: we believe the right to privacy is certain. But there's no way that can be accomplished. "1984" pales in comparison with today. Our right to privacy we ought not worry about. The cost of freedom is to restrict our freedom.

Jim: if you're afraid to speak your mind isn't that a fundamental bad?

Margarete: we don't live on an island, we're a group. We need laws, restrictions on our freedoms. Orren once held an auction that included a flight simulator. The FBI came to the auction to see who got that simulator.

Orren: that was at a time when we were vividly aware of terrorists using simulators.

Margarete: the right to privacy is just a piece of paper.

Steve: I distinguish between individuals spying on each other and systemized spying. My wife investigates workers' compensation cases in her job. Her first source is often Facebook. I began to worry about our privacy with the passage of the Patriot Act. Police actions/probable cause are my concern. And I agree with Andrew's anxiety about big business' efforts to surreptitiously collect data on me. "Big Data" is an IT catch word nowadays.

Vivian: I'm a military wife, meaning we've lived in many different places. I have no idea how Time Life magazines has always known where we are!

Dick: there's a Minnesota town that won't allow air flight over it. Our privacy stops with government regulations. So we don't have any privacy or freedom here. Drones have been used for a long time (U2 spy plane). Let's start regulating access!

Vivian: what if several communities decided to be a no-fly zone? Wouldn't a terrorist prefer to live in such a place?

Jon: we're reading Michel Foucault's book "Discipline and Punish" for the Curran's philosophy group. The author first describes, then disparages western culture's increasing interest is what different generations call their privacy. In order to amass ever-growing amounts of private data on citizens it requires an ever-growing public/private effort by both government and business. The only way to have an ever more productive and efficient economy is to acquire more and more data on the skills, preferences, and lifestyles of individual citizens. This is I think what the Tea Party is really worried about -- alas, they aren't conscious of it and mistakenly lay all responsibility at the feet of their government. This unavoidably has led to ever-increasing levels of complexity, both publicly and privately. , Craigslist
Steve: what about patents? They have made things simpler by limiting infringement on patented ideas.

Jim: what about Japanese auto manufacturers who invented greater efficiencies in mass production? They went from stocking warehouses with parts to having parts delivered to factories just before they are installed -- a serious time saver and a greater simplicity.

Jon: tonight's question is about privacy. Patent law protects property rights, not privacy rights. (before there was a patent office there wasn't a patent office! The addition of a patent office/bureaucracy is an added layer of complexity. Imitators, before the patent office existed, didn't cease to exist after it was created. The difference became that imitators thereafter worked to find ways to copy without violating copyright/patent rules. Before there was a patent office, there were no fat three ring binders full of patent rules. A metaphoric parallel would be to say the "Wild West" wasn't more complex before law came. What it was was more chaotic.)

To Jim's point: your example also is not about privacy. (To its assertion of greater simplicity I agree it certainly made auto manufacturing more efficient and cost effective, but did nothing to reduce complexity. In both circumstances one has parts manufacturers making parts and car manufacturers buying/ordering them. In both cases the parts manufacturers are producing in response to car makers' requests. But it is now more complicated, because instead of just producing parts at the speed the parts makers needed in order to keep warehouses full (over-full, more likely), they now must respond on a daily basis to daily demands because car makers no longer warehouse parts. Parts makers have to hire staff whose job it is to take daily requests and find ways to satisfy them on a daily basis. Parts manufacturers have to now be ready to modify staffing/overtime as demand changes, again, daily, not quarterly or yearly. That is more complicated.)

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