📑 A World Without Privacy Will Revive the Masquerade

Bookmarked A World Without Privacy Will Revive the Masquerade (The Atlantic)

As the growing scale of facial recognition shows, more data can always be extracted.

In a world of growing surveillance, Jonathan Zittrain provides two contrasting between visions for the future, Pseudoworld and Transcriptworld. Pseudoworld is a world where people are driven to obfuscate their identity.

As that kind of surveillance grows, catalyzed by free-range viral videos recorded wherever an embarrassing incident unfolds, coupled with a contest to name the bad actors and where they work, the demand for pseudonymity will require more than non-revealing Twitter handles. As yesterday’s locks are supplemented by today’s networked home-security cams, companies will market tools for us to secure the manifold ways in which our identities could leak. Nico Sell (which may or may not be her real name) has led the way: She’s a digital-security researcher who has worked hard to never be publicly photographed without wearing sunglasses. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have designed special glasses to confuse facial recognition without requiring shades, and the artist Adam Harvey has pioneered an open tool kit of new fashions for the same purpose. Next up will be shoe inserts to stymie gait detection, and the commandeering of Auto-Tune to prevent voice recognition.

In contrast, Transcriptworld is the all visible world of online identity where surveillance is capturing our everyone and slowing manipulating us.

Transcriptworld may appear normal, but it’s really the Truman Show, a highly realistic but still completely tailored video game where nothing happens by chance. It’s a hall of mirrors whose horizons and features are digitally generated and honed for each person, in which even what constitutes “normal” is defined by the system: both in the type of world— violent or peaceful, pessimistic or hopeful—that’s presented, and in the ways that people will rapidly adjust to try to avoid the penalties of the system’s definition of negative behavior.
… when government doesn’t embrace the rule of law, Transcriptworld provides the soil—fertilized by commercial data processing—in which to grow the authoritarian nightmares we’ve come to call Orwellian.

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