The Future of Communications:
When the movie, The Minority Report first hit the cinemas in 2002, it seemed like complete science fiction. There’s no way these technological advancements – like eye tracking, intuitive billboards, crime prevention and an all-knowing government apparatus – would ever happen in my lifetime. Now, as scary as it seems, much of it has come to pass, or will in the foreseeable future.
With web 3.0 and the semantic web tracking every digital move we make, cookies collecting data on our habits, our desires, our frailties, our finances, our sexual orientation, et al and storing it all in Big Data’s data banks, this future is now a sobering reality. Could we be far from the scene of Tom Cruise walking through a mall with billboards and kiosks recognizing him by tracking his eyes, and asking him about the jeans he bought last week, and whether or not he needs a new shirt to go with them? All that data was instantaneously available and matched to his eyeballs, in the film.
We already have facial recognition technology on Facebook that is startlingly accurate!
This technology that learns about you and knows you perhaps better than you know yourself, promises to make our lives easier. It provides convenience, organizes information that we seek and even forecasts things we may want. The more we are lulled into the sense of security that this self-serving technology provides, the more the web and big data will know about us.
But all of this knowledge can have profound ramifications on privacy. How can an individual be a full participatory citizen when he or she may fear what’s in the data banks? How will the government react to knowing everything about you?
Among the themes of the movie are”the role of preventive government in protecting its citizenry, & the role of media in a future state where technological advancements make its presence nearly boundless,” according to a Wikipedia post.
Which begs the question, is this utopia worth the cost? Surrendering your privacy for the greater good?
In “The Minority Report, the government sought to stop crimes before they were committed. How would that capability affect the freedom of the individual? Time will tell, but the prospects of all this knowledge can be frightful.
Artificial intelligence is another area of either great promise or great concern. Robots are already in development that can think and react like humans. If they know everything the web knows about us, how will they react when encountering real human beings? This seems the stuff of science fiction, but they soon may be a grim reality. Let’s hope global warming melts the icecaps and sends us to Waterworld before this all happens.