Thesis 78

Measures aimed at securing our prerogatives via technical means will also appear.

It's not as if the people now developing ubiquitous systems are blind to the more problematic implications of their worknot all of them, anyway, and not by a long stretch. But perhaps unsurprisingly, when they think of means to address these implications, they tend to consider technical solutions first.

Consider the ethic that your image belongs to youthat in private space, anyway, you have the right to determine who is allowed to record that image and what is done with it. At the seventh annual Ubicomp conference, held in Tokyo in September 2005, a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology demonstrated an ingenious system that would uphold this ethic by defeating unwanted digital photography, whether overt or surreptitious.

By relying on the distinctive optical signature of the charge-coupled devices (CCDs) digital cameras are built around, the Georgia Tech system acquires any camera aimed its way in fractions of a second, and dazzles it with a precisely-calibrated flare of light. Such images as the camera manages to capture are blown out, utterly illegible. As demonstrated in Tokyo, it was both effective and inspiring.

Georgia Tech's demo seemed at first blush to be oriented less toward the individual's right to privacy than toward the needs of institutions attempting to secure themselves against digital observationwhether it might be Honda wanting to make sure that snaps of next year's Civic don't prematurely leak to the enthusiast press, or the Transportation Security Agency trying to thwart the casing of their arrangements at LAX. But it was nevertheless fairly evident that, should the system prove effective under real-world conditions, there was nothing in principle that would keep some equivalent from being deployed on a personal level.

This functions as a timely reminder that there are other ways to protect ourselves and our prerogatives from the less salutary impacts of ubiquitous technology than the guidelines contemplated here. There will always be technical means: various tools, hacks and fixes intended to secure our rights for us, from Dunne & Raby's protective art objects to the (notional) RFIDwasher, a keyfob-sized device that enables its users "to locate RFID tags and destroy them forever!" Some will argue that such material strategies are more efficient, more practical, or more likely to succeed than any assertion of professional ethics.

Everyware. The dawning age of ubiquitous computing
Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing
ISBN: 0321384016
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 124
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