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Map As Metaphor In a Location-Aware Mobile World

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the where-you-are dept.

Cellphones 178

mattnyc99 writes "Two weeks after the launch of Google Latitude, your inbox is probably full of requests and privacy advocates probably have even more concerns than they did at first. But some tech pundits are already seeing the bigger picture of a digital lifestyle based around the always-on, GPS-based mobile map. The NYTimes's John Markoff has a great piece in today's Science Times about the map as metaphor for a time when 'future systems will probably begin to blur the boundaries between the display and the real world.' Over at Esquire.com's Tech Therapist, Erik Sofge talks to the geek behind Latitude and offers a similar reality check: 'Latitude will be precisely as annoying as e-mail and social networking sites and cell phones themselves — and just as useful. What won't stop Latitude, or the wider rollout of location-based tracking, is bitching about it. These are juggernauts of free, culture-reorienting technology. And you and me, we are but posts on the massive Facebook profile of history.'"

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Hold on now (5, Interesting)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895565)

What was the problem with just having a small checkbox for being included in the tracking or not? And why can't we trust companies anymore? I may not be the most up to date, but come on, I've never heard about google doing something questionable with your data.

Re:Hold on now (5, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895635)

None of these systems have a checkbox too stop my idiot sister forwarding crap to me and implicitly enrolling me in her facebook centric lifestyle.

I can turn it off but I can't turn off the people who turn it on. For example as a result of this connection there are now pictures of me on facebook. Meta data in image files will soon include positioning information. I don't get a choice about this information being distributed.

Re:Hold on now (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895733)

When uploading pictures to facebook, the uploader requires the copyright holders permission, if they are pictures you took, then you could tell facebook to take them down

Re:Hold on now (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895975)

But how would you know if there were pictures of you there if you aren't on facebook, or myspace, or any other thing like that?

Re:Hold on now (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26897201)

And how would you know if some stranger saw you on the street? They'd know what you look like AND your location! And they could take your picture too if they like.

You've just got to do your best to stay out of photos, you can't control them.

Re:Hold on now (1)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896113)

When uploading pictures to facebook, the uploader requires the copyright holders permission, if they are pictures you took, then you could tell facebook to take them down

  1. The case GP probably has in mind is pictures that other people took, that depict him.
  2. Good luck discovering those pictures without a Facebook account!
  3. Good luck sending copyright notices to every company that has a feature like this, over and over.
  4. Good luck keeping your friends! (And I mean that in the old, real-life sense.)

Re:Hold on now (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896655)

if they are pictures you took

Of yourself. Yes. I suppose that is possible. If you're a scene girl.

Re:Hold on now (1)

elthicko (1399175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897131)

I suppose that is possible. If you're a scene girl.

Now that would be a sight to see. A scene girl concerned with privacy.

Hold on now: DMCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896801)

Good thing the DMCA has been abolished so this will work now.

Re:Hold on now (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895735)

Good point, hadn't thought of that. Couldn't you ask your friends to not put your pictures up though? I do realize this is impractical, but it's the best solution I can think of.

Re:Hold on now (4, Funny)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895795)

He didn't say friends. He said family.

There is an important difference.

Re:Hold on now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895991)

That's when you tell your relatives that you don't want to be on Facebook or any other social networking site and to remove or alter those photos.

Re:Hold on now (1, Offtopic)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896621)

Tell your relatives (or friends) not to put up images of you online? Isn't that kinda like telling radical Muslims not to target Christians and Jews?

Re:Hold on now (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896191)

Then your problem is "people". Not "technology"

Re:Hold on now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896513)

Yes, technology is just a tool. In this case, more advanced technology allows people using it properly to more effectively and efficiently annoy MichaelSmith.

Ha. Privacy violations visible now. (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896757)

I hate how people FUD Google and otehrs for making things available that others have collected for years. Phone companies have known where you are since the invention of cell phones and GPS has been a feature you can't turn off for almost a decade. Your ISP knows more about you than facebook ever will. Your grocer is busy selling you down the river too. Private companies like ChoicePoint have been collecting it all for Uncle Same for a long time too. Welcome to Database Nation, it sucks.

What can and should be done about it? The most harmful stuff is happening behind you back and it needs to be fought with good privacy laws. Grocers, ISPs and others should not be allowed to keep extensive records and should never be allowed to sell them around. The fourth amendment needs to be re-instituted in a big way, so that your tax dollars are not wasted chasing down political opposition. Facebook is not that big a threat because it can be and will be replaced with distributed and free software. It's only a matter of time before Facebook goes the way of GeoCities, AOL and other walled gardens. If we keep freedom in mind, the right answers will come [oreilly.com] .

Re:Hold on now (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897663)

So what you're saying is that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistiguishable from annoyance?

Yes. (1)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896593)

Yes. The problem is the people who use technology to allow other people to destroy my privacy in new, much more brutally efficient ways. Only because the first set of people really want to gather, aggregate and analyze as much information as possible about me, in order to use it against my advantage.

Re:Yes. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896635)

Like his sister? Or were you aiming for a non-sequitur there?

Re:Yes. (1)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896701)

What I had in mind is companies like Google, working in the service of organizations like credit agencies, health insurance companies, PR companies, the government, company HR departments, or just identity thiefs. Why are these services given away for free? Because the information they gather about you is valuable. Why is that information valuable? Because somebody expects to use it to get the better of you in the future.

The sister angle comes in because people will implicitly or explicitly give information about people other than themselves, that then will be used against people who did not disclose it about themselves.

Re:Yes. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896799)

Do you know what a non-sequitur is? If Facebook didn't exist (and believe it or not, there was a time when it didn't), his sister would be just putting the pictures up on her website.. or on the wall of her cubical at work. He might well be opposed to that too. Yes, Facebook is in the social networking business to build advertising profiles.. well, actually, they're in the advertising profile land grab business - which is a bubble that will likely pop in a few years time when it becomes apparent that they're no better at placing ads than anyone else. The data that is gathered by these companies is likely to end up in the hands of a completely different bunch of bozos who may use it for god-knows-what. That is a result of a complete lack of privacy legislation, and the leaking of private information across national borders (for example, the Facebook business model is basically illegal in Australia, but they don't operate here and no-one is blowing the whistle just yet). Ultimately, people don't care until it affects them directly and by then it is something you just have to live with.

Re:Yes. (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897315)

Do you know what a non-sequitur is? If Facebook didn't exist (and believe it or not, there was a time when it didn't), his sister would be just putting the pictures up on her website.. or on the wall of her cubical at work. He might well be opposed to that too.

And those might be annoying but nothing worse.

The reason something like facebook or google is a problem is that ALL the information in the network is owned by one entity, linked together and tagged in ways that a bunch of independant websites and personal blogs never could be. Tons of data in aggregate, actively being linked together by the very users being monitored is far more than the simple sum of its parts.

A few pics on the web of me, a couple in the foreground, and a couple in the background of other people photos is meaningless. But take enough of those pictures, put them together, link them and put them into a cohesive context and piles of new information starts falling out, even if NONE of it was explicitly written.

It goes from there's you at the beach with some girl. To "He's been dating that girl for about 6 years." (from seeing that girl start showing up regularly in photos 6 years ago)

They had child. -- She gradually becomes pregnant in the 3rd year pics.

He works at X, She works at Y. == Random pics of them at work with coworkers. Misc corporate branding in background, plus multiple pictures of those coworkers around a particular building. You are never in a picture outside at work, but based on who your coworkers are and the fact that a high number of them are pictured with this building and the building features the corporate branding means its probably your place of work. The building address is pulled via a correlation with streetview.

He drives an X. Its plate number is Y. - oops you got caught in a pic with your car a few times, and a couple had your plates. It happens. But now its all linked to your profile.

He lives in city A. - pictures of you at home, correlated to an address via streetview.
She moved in on date B. - again more picture trending.

The child goes to school at C - more correlations. pics of your kid on stage that other parents took of their kids, where those other kids parents tagged the school. Software matches your child's face to pics of your child at the beach your sister uploaded...

The school at Address D...

You went as a family to see Coraline 3D -- Caught in the background of a cell phone pic someone else uploaded to facebook, and tagged as a visit to coraline. Your faces were matched to those already in your profile. So even though you never told anyone you went, you get caught on some cell phone pic by complete strangers and its linked to your profile. Everyone who has access to the profile knows you were there.

Think that could happen if all these pictures were uploaded to dozens of different providers. Sure someone might randomly stumble upon the image who happens to know you. But the odds of it getting linked back to your profile are astronomically small.

The odds of anything that can be related or correlated to you from any content anyone anywhere ever uploads about anyone to a site like facebook is only a question of time as the data mining and facial recognition, and raw mass of data increases.

All online. All the web of associations and inferences already mapped out from a vast collection of data.

Re:Yes. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897395)

And all so entirely boring that people are happy to provide that information to you over a cup of tea.

What is your point?

Can you please make a point!?

Re:Yes. (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897775)

And all so entirely boring that people are happy to provide that information to you over a cup of tea.

That was just the beginning. And even that is far more than most people would be comfortable with absolutely *everyone* being able to know.

You apply for car insurance, and are charged extra because they analyze all the places your car has been seen parked and decide you are high risk...

You apply for life insurance, and are charged extra because they analyze all the places you have been seen, and decide you are higher risk...

You cut off the wrong jerk on the freeway, and your 6 year old daughter gets a threatening phone call at school...

What is your point?

The there is a MASSIVE difference between being in the background of a picture in someone's cubicle, and having every photo of you ever taken being indexed along with millions of photos of others and thoroughly data-mined. Anyone who suggests they are equivalent is an idiot.

A little data is meaningless. A lot of data becomes information. Facebook and Google have scary amounts of data to mine for information.

Re:Yes. (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897873)

You apply for car insurance, and are charged extra because they analyze all the places your car has been seen parked and decide you are high risk...

You apply for life insurance, and are charged extra because they analyze all the places you have been seen, and decide you are higher risk...

If you're a higher risk you *should* get charged more.. because if you're not getting charged more than *I* am getting charged more.

You cut off the wrong jerk on the freeway, and your 6 year old daughter gets a threatening phone call at school...

And? That is possible and scary but not nearly as scary as the idea of your 6 year old daughter having a phone.. freak.

A little data is meaningless. A lot of data becomes information. Facebook and Google have scary amounts of data to mine for information.

And what is your point? What is so terrible about having targeted advertising? If they can ever get the shit to work I might actually have a chance of seeing an ad for a product that I would actually like to buy!

Can you make an argument or do I have to make it for you? Maybe what you're trying to say is that data collected for such a harmless purpose as targeted advertising can be abused. Well boo hoo, you deal with the abusers.. you don't try to enforce your paranoia on everyone else - if you're not interested in giving out personal information, don't, but other people are free to give out whatever information they want and yes, that includes information about you. The world can not bend over backwards to accommodate your personal preferences.

Re:Yes. (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898035)

If you're a higher risk you *should* get charged more.. because if you're not getting charged more than *I* am getting charged more.

Except that its *you* getting charged more because *you* were deemed higher risk than me. If they get good enough at predicting who will need an expensive payout, they'll just stop insuring those people. Insurance is supposed to be about covering the risk of things you can't control.

And? That is possible and scary but not nearly as scary as the idea of your 6 year old daughter having a phone.. freak.

No. They'd call the school, moron.

if you're not interested in giving out personal information, don't, but other people are free to give out whatever information they want and yes, that includes information about you. The world can not bend over backwards to accommodate your personal preferences.

The world can easily bend over backwards to make collecting and correlating data about me without my express permission illegal. If other people want to submit information about me, fine, but they don't have to keep it. They don't have to index it. They don't have to data mine it.

Re:Yes. (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898077)

Except that its *you* getting charged more because *you* were deemed higher risk than me. If they get good enough at predicting who will need an expensive payout, they'll just stop insuring those people. Insurance is supposed to be about covering the risk of things you can't control.

So you're saying that insurance companies should not access risk now? Please, put down the crack pipe.

No. They'd call the school, moron.

You don't even have kids do ya? Anyone who put a 6 year old kid on the phone with someone claiming to be a parent would not be working with children for long.

The world can easily bend over backwards to make collecting and correlating data about me without my express permission illegal. If other people want to submit information about me, fine, but they don't have to keep it. They don't have to index it. They don't have to data mine it.

No... in order to do that we have to make a law, and enforce it. That aint free. It's paid for by "the rest of us" and we don't give two shits about your preference to be un-data-mined. Go live in the freaking woods. Become a sailor.

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26898081)

Can someone please mod this ignorant crap down?

Re:Yes. (2, Insightful)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898609)

If you're a higher risk you *should* get charged more.. because if you're not getting charged more than *I* am getting charged more.

No, this is not in general true. Not all measurable risk factors are fair game for variable insurance rates. For example, an insurance company that explicitly used race as a pricing factor would find itself in trouble, no matter how strong of a correlation it could demonstrate between race and cost of claims.

More generally, it is unfair for insurance to be priced according to factors that you have no control over, especially if it's possible for you to move into a higher-risk group involuntarily. The best example of this is the practice of charging higher health insurance rates to sick people than to healthy ones. This in fact decreases the value of the insurance to all policyholders, because you have no control over which of these two groups you will be in tomorrow. You pay the insurer low fees while you're healthy so they will cover you if the time comes when you are sick, but then when that time you can no longer afford the coverage!

So, to take it back to the thread topic: data mining for insurance factors is problematic because it can lead to insurance companies pricing coverage on the basis of all sorts of risk factors that, despite being real, they shouldn't use.

Re:Yes. (1)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898447)

The reason something like facebook or google is a problem is that ALL the information in the network is owned by one entity, linked together and tagged in ways that a bunch of independant websites and personal blogs never could be. Tons of data in aggregate, actively being linked together by the very users being monitored is far more than the simple sum of its parts.

While I mostly agree with your comment, I don't think that the single owning entity is an important factor. In fact, Google is the perfect counterexample here; they are set up to index and analyze tons of data they don't own.

Re:Yes. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896821)

Social networks provide a way for social engineering attacks to find the easiest way into a network. We can improve the security of our software. We can abandon friends but there is very little we can do about our relatives.

Re:Hold on now - What are you afraid of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26897101)

What is it exactly that you are afraid of?

Are you afraid of some guy browsing facebook discovering your true identity and hunting you down through use of his GPS navigation system in order to use you for whatever his master evil plan may be?

Re:Hold on now - What are you afraid of? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897713)

Well, I dunno about you but *I'd* be afraid of some guy browsing Facebook, discovering a picture of my wife, then using a GPS mapping system to predict the best time/place to assault or kidnap her... and yes, there are many guys who troll social networking sites and try to crack on to any decent looking woman (clearly states on both our pages that we're married and not looking for anything, she still gets one or two a month saying "hey baby you up for a fling"). It's not that much of a reach to say that the small percentage of them who are actually psychotic and not just sleazy will find this sort of thing very useful indeed.

Re:Hold on now - What are you afraid of? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897719)

I might be afraid of a potential employer knowing too much about me [slashdot.org] .

Don't be naive (2, Insightful)

Iffie (1410897) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895943)

This is just a way to make this type of surveilance socially acceptable. In a while the government will ask you to open up the info to them (what do you have to hide after all?). It is not my intention to go through life as an ant in a terrarium, ready to be prodded with a stick if I move the wrong way. It is not anybodies 'right' to know more about me than I care to actively share.

Re:Don't be naive (1)

Accursed (563233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896589)

Time to retire to a remote cave in an uncharted region of the world, then. It's amusing that techies can be luddites too.

Re:Don't be naive (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896773)

Time to retire to a remote cave in an uncharted region of the world, then.

It's amusing that techies can be luddites too.

Time to stop wearing pants in public. Also amusing that naifs can be bleeding edge technophiles.

Re:Don't be naive (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897817)

Time to stop wearing pants in public.

I enjoy the opportunity to be out in public without pants. Fresh air and sunshine for all my anatomy, hurrah!

It also means I don't have pockets in which to carry gizmos that others might want to use to track my whereabouts.

And to the GP: being opposed to the irresponsible use of technology no more makes one a Luddite than being opposed to rape makes a person anti-sex.

Too late (1)

toby (759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898199)

After a lot of looking around, I found the uncharted territory (it was tough, being off all maps, natch) and it has a nice cave, but a weird foreign-looking guy named Mr Bin Laden told me to fuck off, he got there first.

Re:Hold on now (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896093)

I may not be the most up to date, but come on, I've never heard about google doing something questionable with your data.

Gathering it in the first place is questionable.

Re:Hold on now (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897321)

Trust companies anymore?

Tell me when was this mythical time when companies could be trusted?

Re:Hold on now (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897581)

I like throwing this out there every now and again - companies are not autonomous entities acting on their own behalf. The people who work for them do these things. It's always people. Just people.

Privacy (1, Redundant)

56 (527333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895609)

Privacy is so pre-millennium.

Re:Privacy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895633)

Re:Privacy (3, Funny)

greenguy (162630) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896087)

People are so quick to forget: 9/11 changed everything.

You won't see me signing up for this (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895685)

Anyone who values their privacy won't sign up for this. In related news, I've also deleted my facebook. Anyone who's been following the tech news knows what they are aiming for. People want databases that know everything about you at all times, since somehow this data will change the world for the better. Such databases will inevitably be abused; people who disagree need to take a few history classes. I'm sick of the data mining and invasions of privacy that are done already.

Re:You won't see me signing up for this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895979)

In related news, I've also deleted my facebook

I hope you deleted it properly [facebook.com] .

Re:You won't see me signing up for this (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896003)

This cracked me up going to that link.. "Sign up for Facebook to join How to permanently delete your facebook account."

Re:You won't see me signing up for this (1)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896011)

If you're talking about a nefarious government abusing the data, they'll just send their stormtroopers round to gather the information by force on the day they come to power if you've not handed it over, so you're hardly safe from that regardless.

Google will never have their own stormtroopers to do the same.

Although, I'm not entirely confident in that prediction.

I signed up for it...... lot of good it'll do them (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896813)

I signed up for it, using the web UI... set the address to the address of my office (easy enough to find anyway) and my icon's been sitting there the past 3 weeks. Ooh, comma, wow.

Strong disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895715)

I, for one, do NOT welcome our new convenience enhancing privacy eating overlords.
Privacy does NOT have to be made obsolete by new technologies, but people would have you think so.

These people can be cured, but ammunition prices are relatively high now and going higher.
Set some aside now, you'll thank yourself when they come to brand you with a bar code.

How useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895725)

Latitude will be precisely as annoying as e-mail and social networking sites and cell phones themselves â" and just as useful.

So it will be 67% useful?

Am I the only one... (4, Insightful)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895741)

...who doesn't mind the small breach of privacy, plus a few ads on the side, in order to provide myself and possibly some friends some interesting and beneficial functionality?

Oh sure there's the possibility that a corporation/stalker will be watching me at all times, but hey, stalkers sometimes have free candy (and they offer me rides in their van!).

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896051)

I do. A little here, a little there...pretty soon there is none left.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Re:Am I the only one... (5, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896377)

Am I the only one who doesn't mind the small breach of privacy...

Privacy is like Pandora's Box - people are all too willing to open it up when they are blissfully ignorant of the consequences. But once they finally do start to feel the pain of having set their privacy loose on the wind it is too late to try to stuff it all back into the box again.

So choose wisely, just because you can't think of any particularly severe repercussions today doesn't mean there won't be any in the future once your data is already far beyond your control.

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898543)

Those willing to trade Liberty for Security deserve neither.

Wait a minute... (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895779)

No, I haven't received any requests at all! But then, I don't have any friends that need to know my whereabouts, and nobody is currently stalking me. If my family needs to know where I am, they simply call me on my cell and ask. (Although I do frequently tell my wife when she asks that "I'm at the strip club" in the hope that someday when she calls me and I actually AM at the strip club, she won't believe and will respond with "Come On! Where are you, really?") If you are getting these requests, then perhaps you shouldn't have pointed out to your girlfriend(s) that they could be monitoring your whereabouts 24/7.

And of course the following joke is now obsolete: A doctor, a lawyer, and a mathematician are all hanging out at the bar. They all went got their undergraduate degrees from the same institution, so they have been good friends for quite while, but their interests were a bit divergent. Somehow or another, they get to talking about relationships. The lawyer proclaims that, while he is not married, he has a beautiful mistress.

"It is far better to have a mistress than a wife," he says. "A mistress is never going to divorce you and take your money, and if you get tired of her, you can dump her and find someone younger and more attractive. I don't understand why anyone would ever want to get married!"

The doctor responds, "I must say that I disagree. I have been happily married for 15 years, and I just can't see any other way to live. I have my wife's nearly unconditional love, and she is there for me whether I am healthy or not. She takes care of me, and I take care of her, and there is no chance that she is just going to leave me one day. I would much rather have the steady, warm relationship of a wife than the flash-in-the-pan mistress."

The mathematician comments, "You are both wrong. It is best to have both a wife and a mistress. Then you can tell your wife that you are with your mistress, tell your mistress that you are with your wife, and you can go into the office and get some work done."

Re:Wait a minute... (3, Funny)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896127)

nobody is currently stalking me

Oh, I beg to differ.

We were all doomed anyway (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895789)

Once we let computers start to think for us. It's really only a matter of time. I highly recommend "I, Robot" - the book, not the lame movie. The final section is +1, Insightful.

Re:We were all doomed anyway (1)

Polo (30659) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895817)

I highly recommend "I, Robot" - the book, not the lame movie.

and I highly recommend "Rainbows End" by Vernor Vinge (for the near future anyway)

Re:We were all doomed anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26897339)

Once we let computers start to think for us. It's really only a matter of time.

The computer doesn't think, the people mining your data do.

Furthermore, if you're not thinking while on the computer, try reading a newspaper or magazine, and don't forget to flush.

the map is not the territory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895831)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map%E2%80%93territory_relation

Those who don't learn from history (4, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895845)

What won't stop Latitude, or the wider rollout of location-based tracking, is bitching about it.

What will stop it, is people not using it. Or far more likely, people not using it in ways that the pundits and marketdroids insist it must be used.

History is full examples of technology that simply were not used. But more common are examples of technology being used in ways no one ever foresaw. I have no doubt that location-awareness will be ubiquitous in future culture, but I'm willing to bet good money that it WON'T be used the way the babbling class tells us it's going to be used.

Requests? (3, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895863)

>Two weeks after the launch of Google Latitude, your inbox is probably full of requests

Mine isn't. I don't think any of my friends have even heard of it. Not everyone jumps on the latest social trend as soon as it's announced. I still don't know anyone who uses Twitter.

Re:Requests? (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896067)

I don't know anyone personally that does twitter either. Just that twit on NPR Science Fridays that keeps going on about Twitter and Second Life.. Jesus that's annoying!

Re:Requests? (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896159)

I still don't know anyone who uses Twitter.

In fact, I know more people who are aggressively hostile toward Twitter than who use it.

Similarly, I've never heard anybody breathe the words Google Latitude -- if they actually even know what it is -- without the inevitable follow-up, "Eewww! What a creepy thing! What, is it like so people can stalk you?"

I suspect that this is another of the occasional Slashdot stories that seem targeted squarely, and solely, at college students.

People are weirded out now... (5, Interesting)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895887)

...but that's because Google has the data. But let me tell you my vision of the future:

In about 20 years, everyone will be recording not only their movements, but basically everything they do. Audio at first and then video. This, however, will not be public information, it will be either stored on a device under the user's control at their house, or with a company that promises not to look at it or turn it over except in case of a warrant. (Google's just a problem because it doesn't promise this.) It will probably be via 'cell phone' at first, although it will probably subsume cell phones in the end.

Why would people do this? To stop crime. Not them committing crime, other people committing crimes against them, and to demonstrate that they were not the person who committed a crime. The first hardware like this will come with a panic button, which would send the last two minutes of audio, plus a live stream, and your location to the police. This will quickly evolve into ways of monitoring to see if you're in distress.

They will also have various other features. By that time, voice recognition should be workable so expect transcribed conversation, and expect the ability to look up information simply by talking about it. Expect a 'distress' code phrase to replace the panic button.

Expect it to automatically recognize when you're supposed to be meeting someone and work with the other person's device to navigate you two together, or even if you're not meeting but happen to be near each other and are friends. Likewise, expect the ability to tell the device to lie so you don't have to talk to that boring guy who thinks you're friends.

And let me clarify that by 'vision' I mean 'What I see happening', not 'Grand and noble scheme'. It's not what should happen or what I want to happen. I'd actually rather dislike it. I'd like the Supreme Court to decide that we have the right to record ourselves without it being subject to a search. At the very least it should be minimized...if the police assert you committed a crime at a specific time you should be able to demonstrate the recorder has you somewhere else without specifically stating where or what you were doing at that time.

Basically, think Brin's transparent society, but instead of society recording everyone, and showing it to everyone, like he hypothesizes, or the police recording everyone which is the worse case scenario, everyone would simply be recording themselves and be able to produce a recording for themselves. And various parts of that would be automatically accessible to other people.

Oh, and incidentally, I know that such a device would be illegal in many states, thanks to laws about audio recording. The laws will very quickly change to let you record anything you could have heard with normal hearing. (Laws outlawing the recording of something you could be sitting there transcribing are pretty surreal to start with.)

Re:People are weirded out now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896015)

Note that in Brin's "Earth" ficton, this only worked because they had developed an (unexplained) recording system that was not forgeable or otherwise fakeable. We don't have that yet, although we are more and more going to need it.

Re:People are weirded out now... (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898153)

I think we can deal if everyone is recording, and hence people could demonstrate that their recording is not faked by showing someone near them recorded the same thing.

I.e., if I say I'm across town, the police ask for people who were near me to come forward and present recordings that are close to my location at exactly the same time. The background noises should match.(1)

The one thing it wouldn't help are 'I was at home alone' alibis, and even there it helps a little. It's easy to fake recordings, but it's pretty hard to splice recordings to exactly match. If I can demonstrate I was in a crowd where other people picked me up, and I have an unbroken recording of background noise until the police knock at my door, then I probably didn't edit out the 'Help, I'm being mugged' cry for help.

Granted, this doesn't help if the criminal has an accomplice who moved the recording device around, but that's not incredibly important...the intent isn't really to provide an alibi at all, it's to provide a recording of the crime from the victim's perspective. Criminals probably wouldn't have them at all, they'd 'leave them at home' or the batteries 'would be dead'.

And once it has video, we're getting into 'Perfect Murder' levels of planning to pull off a crime without getting caught. A crime happens, people nearby get asked for footage. Everyone in said footage is identified.

It might not stop a really determined person, and professional assassins will cope, and there are plenty of total morons out there who commit obviously solveable crimes, but I'd expect the crime rate to drop at least 80% once half the people have these, with the rest of the crimes shifted to really remote locations.

1) What would be really clever is if everyone's device broadcasted a changing public key at all times, and other people's device would record it, and you had to be within a dozen feet to do that. Then, when people needed to locate people who had been near them at specific times, for an alibi, or whatever, they could simply post notices encrypted with said keys on the internet, and get responses. (Or not, if the other person chooses not to respond.) Cars should do this too. Changing every ten minutes or so so that people can't be tracked with it, but each key is stored along with the recording.

Re:People are weirded out now... (2, Interesting)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896021)

I think you are being too credulous in assuming that people want these technologies to record an accurate version of their petty lives.

IMO, the future is in technology that will allow people to convince others, and eventually themselves, that they are living the lives they want to live, not the lives they bother to build for themselves.

Re:People are weirded out now... (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896147)

Basically, think Brin's transparent society, but instead of society recording everyone, and showing it to everyone, like he hypothesizes, or the police recording everyone which is the worse case scenario, everyone would simply be recording themselves and be able to produce a recording for themselves. And various parts of that would be automatically accessible to other people.

Check out Robert J. Sawyers Neanderthal Trilogy ("Hominids", "Humans", & "Hybrids") The premise is that of a bridge to an alternate universe where Neanderthals became the dominant species... they have a society pretty much exactly as you describe. Everyone has AI assisted personal recorders, and the data is stored securely and can only be accessed via court order or reviewed by its owner.

Its one of several themes in the books, and he spends a bit of time exploring its impact on society. (Its effect on crime, and social interaction in general, etc...)

Re:People are weirded out now... (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898239)

I have read the first of that series, in fact. It was a horrible book with aweird sexist preachy message. And unbelievable characters, to boot.

Which is strange, as I liked both Calculating God and Flashforward, although those both had poor endings and Calculating God was, essentially, sorta stupid.

But I thought it was funny the author had come up with basically the same idea I had, except for some reason he'd allowed the courts access to it, which I think is a bad idea.

I'd rather do it the other way, not accessible by court order at all. Because I don't think people are willing to record their life if they might ever be forced to turn it over, and the societal gain if the vast majority of people do it is immeasurable.

Re:People are weirded out now... (1)

hajus (990255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896963)

You are assuming the lack of an ability to scan our memories as they are via a ranged (or even wired) device. Why bother carrying around a cellphone sized device when you can just go home and plug on a headset and upload via usb type connector? You might end up losing the cellphone sized device or getting it stolen. It might be more inaccurate and altered by your own perceptions, but far more convenient to only go around with your own memory (or an implant flash drive) but carrying a personal recorder is going to be less convenient. Something like memory scanning might become illegal if people scan other people's memories like we take public pictures but it would still happen.

Re:People are weirded out now... (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897335)

Wouldn't turning over your recording fall under "self incrimination" aka the 5th amendment?

Re:People are weirded out now... (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898167)

It should.

It doesn't.

Re:People are weirded out now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26897457)

The first hardware like this will come with a panic button, which would send the last two minutes of audio, plus a live stream, and your location to the police.

"...Pig, EIEIO! With an oink-oink here, and an oink-oink there..."
*click*

The final words of old MacDonald, after he accidentally pushed the panic button.

Holy Garbage Disposal, Batman! (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896047)

We will now know where the "kitchen sink" is located. Our next metaphor mapping adventure is where the "other shoe drop" is located. :P

What I need to know is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896277)

Pot of gold! Where's the pot of gold!?!?!?!

Re:What I need to know is... (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897679)

At the end of the Rainbow? Now we can map where the rainbows are located!

GPS is receive only (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896121)

So why must a system which connects me with my friends be centralized? People who treat the internet like interactive TV don't know better, but techies should not get excited about centralized Google services. P2P is the future if you don't want to wake up to Google turned Microsoft one day.

Helio had this two years ago (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896495)

Helio [helio.com] had this available in 2006 They called it "Buddy Beacon" [ulocate.com] :

Buddy Beacon is the new way for Helio members to synchronize their social lives and tell friends where the fun is. Rather than calling or texting, Helio members can switch on their Buddy Beacon and use satellite technology to broadcast their location to the friends they add to their Buddy List. When they turn on Buddy Beacon, their Buddy List friends can see their location on a map along with a nearby address. Members can add up to 25 Buddies to their Buddy List. When members change locations and want to let everyone know the party is on the move, one simple command refreshes the location. Want to hide out? Just leave Buddy Beacon off to enjoy a night of privacy or to slip out the back of the club into the VIP room."

That's been out since 2006. It's been available for the iPhone since April 2008. [macworld.com] Google is late to the party on this.

Re:Helio had this two years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26897605)

When members change locations and want to let everyone know the party is on the move, one simple command refreshes the location. Want to hide out? Just leave Buddy Beacon off to enjoy a night of privacy or to slip out the back of the club into the VIP room.

You can also prompt if they should bring any RadAway, or a Stealth Buddy.

What an awesome feature for the Fallout MMORPG!

I already use mobile google maps (2, Insightful)

merreborn (853723) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896497)

...So google already has my location data anyway. This new service gives them no more information than they already had. Instead, it simply allows me to share that data with select parties when I find it convenient.

My wife and I plan to give "Latitude" a spin. She gets lost driving in the city now and then, and gets flustered. Being able to see her location in google maps, and give talk her through directions from there should come in handy.

Re:I already use mobile google maps (2, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896889)

...So google already has my location data anyway.

You can use Google Maps on your mobile without location data. You just have to enter the location for which you want a map. (And no, I'm not always at the location I want to map, so Google only knows that I was interested in seeing what's around 123 Main Street, not that I was at 123 Main Street at 8:39pm.)

This is generational (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896591)

Same old story. Every generation uses new technology, while the old generation wrings its hands and whines about the good old days. If you don't want to embrace the future, then don't. It's up to you. But don't fool yourself that it's anything other than fear of things you haven't grown up with.

Re:This is generational (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896879)

The concept of technology that can track you every move is not new. The notion that one would submit to it voluntarily, is new. See 1984, for example.

Oh right, reading is old technology that the young techno-vanguard has abandoned in favor of posting pictures of themselves doing bong-hits.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that blogging, tweeting, and doling out the right for others to track your every move is anything other than narcissism.

Re:This is generational (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897401)

The notion that one would submit to it voluntarily, is new.

I didn't say it wasn't new, only that the reaction to new ideas is typical. See also: rock and roll, reading novels (yes, reading novels used to be considered bad form), the telephone (impersonal, don't you know), movies (the downfall of civilization), etc, etc.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that blogging, tweeting, and doling out the right for others to track your every move is anything other than narcissism.

Sheesh. It's called socialization. This may be news, but humans are social, communicative animals. Paranoid people who hate others knowing anything about them (like you) are the minority. Most people like being in communication with their friends, and this is just one more method of communication. No different than the old days of mailing a letter and giving your friend the details of what's been going on in your life.

Re:This is generational (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897879)

Same old story. Every generation uses new technology, while the old generation wrings its hands and whines about the good old days. If you don't want to embrace the future, then don't.

Same old story. Technofetishists see some shiny new product and are hypnotized by marketers into thinking it's the thing that's going to make everything better forever; they never consider that it might be the next pneumatic tube network, or spray-on hair, or leaded gasoline.

There are two types of fools. One says, "This is new, and therefore better!" The other says, "This is old, and therefore better!"

Re:This is generational (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898073)

Technofetishists see some shiny new product and are hypnotized by marketers into thinking it's the thing that's going to make everything better forever [...]

I'm sure you would have said the same thing when the telephone came out. Who needs it, when you can just write letters? And you don't have the damn phone ringing all day, and the damn neighbors can hear you talking... [grouch mumble damn kids with their newfangled shiny nonsense ...mumble... just a damn fad, grouch mumble]

Re:This is generational (1)

dogeatery (1305399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898299)

I believe the quote is from Neil Postman (or at least someone with similar ideas), someone we would all do well to read. He was a scholar who mused on the way technology dictates conversation and creates a bias within our minds when looking at the world around us. In other words, when adopting a new mode of technology, society makes a choice to shut off a point of view. He had a term for people who say things similar to your post: technopolists

Map as a metaphor? predictable! (1)

perlchild (582235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896687)

Nobody reads snowcrash anymore?

It's like so 1992.

Earth, the metaphor... for... all the information useful for people living on earth...

So simple... it's brilliant.

Re:Map as a metaphor? predictable! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896947)

Nobody reads snowcrash anymore?

It's like so 1992.

Earth, the metaphor... for... all the information useful for people living on earth...

So simple... it's brilliant.

Interesting how cyberpunk, much more than space opera is coming true.

Re:Map as a metaphor? predictable! (1)

mako1138 (837520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897883)

The thing about Snow Crash is that the Metasphere is a completely different place, and your RL body doesn't have to go anywhere while you're linked up. TFA is postulating a move toward something like the ubiquitous glasses in Dennou Coil, where a digital overlay is projected over the real world.

Re:Map as a metaphor? predictable! (2, Insightful)

idlemachine (732136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26898187)

Nobody reads snowcrash anymore?

It's like so 1992.

Nobody reads philosophical texts anymore?

It's like so 1931.

The map is NOT the territory. [wikipedia.org]

Forget it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896759)

I'm already paying $52/mo for my Verizon voice/texting/Mobile Web plan. No way am I paying an extra $40-60/mo to add data onto that just so I can tell everyone my GPS coordinates. :-)

John Markoff has dirty hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26897149)

John Markoff is a jerk. He needs to spend 4 years in Los Angles County jail and write a story about that. Why the New York Times has kept a dishonest reporter like him around disappoints me. Sorry Markoff, you made your career by fucking someone else and leaving them in jail. Sleep good tonight. Post Anonymously - Checked

What a retarded phrase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26897317)

WTF does "Map As Metaphore" even mean?
I looked it up on google and the only search results returned were this article and a couple other completely unrelated research papers.

I don't think "Map As Metaphore" is even a grammatically correct phrase.

Who comes up with this bullshit?

I actually have less concerns now. (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 5 years ago | (#26897323)

Not only is the service opt-in and very clear about what you're opting into, but I received an email a couple of days later reminding me that I was broadcasting my location.

It's hard to have privacy concerns about something you choose to do that is so straightforward about what it does.

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26897859)


"Two weeks after the launch of Google Latitude, your inbox is probably full of requests and privacy advocates probably have even more concerns than they did at first. But some tech pundits are already seeing the bigger picture of a digital lifestyle based around the always-on, GPS-based mobile map. The NYTimes's John Markoff has a great piece in today's Science Times about the map as metaphor for a time when 'future systems will probably begin to blur the boundaries between the display and the real world.' Over at Esquire.com's Tech Therapist, Erik Sofge talks to the geek behind Latitude and offers a similar reality check: 'Latitude will be precisely as annoying as e-mail and social networking sites and cell phones themselves â" and just as useful. What won't stop Latitude, or the wider rollout of location-based tracking, is bitching about it. These are juggernauts of free, culture-reorienting technology. And you and me, we are but posts on the massive Facebook profile of history.'"

What the fuck does that mean?

a quote: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26897901)

Just because your paranoid doesn't mean I'm not after you.

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