Technology continues to change the landscape faster than social conventions can adjust, which creates a gap, a lawless frontier where tech companies can do what they like. For example, who gave them permission to monetize our private information? If stalking us on the internet to determine our buying habits weren’t offensive enough, two new snooping devices have emerged. New programs can track web users based on their unique typing style. (“Keystrokes as identity keys,” excerpted from an article in Technia.com by Dan Goodin, The Week, August 21, 2015 pg. 18.) The program is already in use in major banks to protect against account fraud, but fears are it can be used against political dissidents who otherwise are able to protect their identify. A Chrome browser plug-in is available to mask some of this intrusion, by the way.
Microsoft ‘s Windows 10, which is free, “gives itself permission to pass your data to Microsoft’s servers, gobble up your bandwith, and profile you computer usage.”(Ibid pg. 18) To avoid some of the intrusion, users should refuse “express install” and chose “custom install” instead. Then “turn off the default setting in almost every case.” (Ibid pg. 18)
It does appear that for every benefit technology provides there is a concomitant drawback which techies fail to anticipate. As one editorial in The Economist observed, “The geeks live in a bubble that seals off their empire from the world they are doing so much to change. “ (“Best Columns,” excerpted from The Economist in The Week, August 7, 2015, pg. 34) The article calls their vision of the world “techno-evangelism,” a belief that algorithms are the solution to much of the world’s problems. (Ibid pg. 14)
What the technocrats don’t see, living in their splendid isolation in high rent condos and air conditioned sports cars, is how their changes affect ordinary people Silicon Valley’s snooping into private lives and treating the information as saleable asset is one example. Gobbling up affordable housing is another. In high tech centers like Los Angeles and San Francisco, renters spend “an average of 48 percent and 47 percent on housing, respectively,” because high wage earners set the market price. (Wall Street Journal, excerpted in The Week, August 28, 2015, pg. 14.)
Government seems unwilling or powerless to put safeguards for the public in place. In the end, we may have to save ourselves by turning to incantations and witchcraft. But wait. The technocrats have beat us to that already. Some firms in San Francisco are paying the Wiccan witch, Rev. Joey Talley, $200 an hour “to remove ‘invasive species’ causing persistent, mysterious malfunctions.” (Click) She also casts spells to protect computers from viruses and hackers. (“Only in American,” The Week, July 31, 2015, pg. 4)
Halloween is coming up, but thanks to the techies, renting a witch may have become pricy, too.