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Dataland: the Emerging Dystopia

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the but-e-medical-records dept.

Privacy 81

An anonymous reader writes "Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell's novel 1984, resorted to hiding the bushes with his lover in a failed attempt to escape the government's ubiquitous surveillance. Orwell was concerned with totalitarianism and explicit thought control enforced by police action. While that is still very much an issue for many of the world's residents, here in the West there is an unsettling feeling about a more subtle form of thought manipulation, as more and more of our activities are watched, cataloged, and analyzed by more and more institutions — governments, businesses, non-profits, political parties, mostly for predictive purposes. At least we have a name for it now: 'Dataland', a term suggested by Kate Crawford of Microsoft Research, who studies the sociological effects of networking technologies. Crawford has been written up in Slashdot before. She's criticized the indiscriminate adoption of Big Data analytics on several grounds, including the loss of anonymity, erroneous conclusions from skewed datasets, and the prospect of secret discrimination."

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81 comments

Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (2)

laejoh (648921) | about 6 months ago | (#45109877)

I, for instance, follow the advice of gman003, me too I am an ordained minister in Norse Paganism (Reformed), a registered card-carrying Communist, a decorated veteran of the Third Punic War, the second in line to the throne of Emperor Norton I, and the true assassin of Archduke Ferdinand. Big data gets pretty useless once it's full of nonsense.

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (4, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 6 months ago | (#45109941)

Sadly not; at best you can only exclude yourself from certain demographics. That does you no good if they're looking for those demographics. The genie isn't back in the bottle.

At worst, the category "random/unclassifiable" gets flagged as suspicious in itself. (And no points for being an avowed Communist, even if you are reverent towards the Protector of Mexico.)

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 6 months ago | (#45110899)

Sadly not; at best you can only exclude yourself from certain demographics.

I've come to the conclusion that the best way (as an individual) to handle this sort of thing is to create personas for different contexts. You'll need fake ids, but you won't be using them for anything technically illegal (no fraud, no underage drinking). You just show them to people/systems that want the info to track you - like loyalty cards (that you then only use with cash).

That way you end up with a handful of distinct personas that all have data trails but only have data trails in specific contexts so that cross-referencing is impossible.

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110951)

Are you sure that cross checking is impossible?

https://panopticlick.eff.org/ [eff.org]

And that's just one example. Truly big data will be essentially impossible to hide from completely. It doesn't need to reach a 100% positive result before people start treating it like it is, and that's only one possible problem that we should fully expect to arise from this.

Here's another that could make your idea less effective as well:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/business/attention-shopper-stores-are-tracking-your-cell.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com]

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 6 months ago | (#45111297)

Are you sure that cross checking is impossible?

Make that "out of the ordinary" - if cross-referencing for different personas is not the normal use of these databases, then the decision to try to cross-reference is going to be an extra-ordinary situation which will require an extra-ordinary amount of effort.

Of course, the more people who do adopt personas, the more likely it is that Big Data will come up with standard tools to accomplish that cross-referencing.

On the other hand, if it gets to the point where so many people are doing that sort of thing, that means the problems have become so well-known that there is probably enough political will to change the system through law.

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (1)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | about 6 months ago | (#45111669)

Sadly not; at best you can only exclude yourself from certain demographics.

I've come to the conclusion that the best way (as an individual) to handle this sort of thing is to create personas for different contexts. You'll need fake ids, but you won't be using them for anything technically illegal (no fraud, no underage drinking). You just show them to people/systems that want the info to track you - like loyalty cards (that you then only use with cash).

That way you end up with a handful of distinct personas that all have data trails but only have data trails in specific contexts so that cross-referencing is impossible.

I agree somewhat however you might want to check on the legality of this in some jurisdictions.

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (0)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#45112505)

Why the fuck does anybody have to 'resorting to hiding the bushes with his friend"? Was there some kind of anti-plant program in 1984 that I missed?

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45113387)

Was he growing pot? I don't remember, it was a long time ago that I read the book.

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (-1, Troll)

AlphaWoIf_HK (3042365) | about 6 months ago | (#45109951)

Something is knocking on your ass; it wants to play with your rancid hole! What is it that's knocking? Who could be knocking on your ass at this untimely hour? Well... my fetid little friend, that's who! "What does he want!?" you ask. Well, he wants to insert himself directly into your foul fictionhole so that the two can make The Elixir of Life. What say you?

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 6 months ago | (#45115135)

Oh, look. It's /this/ idiot again.
Protip: Tick AC box next time.

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 6 months ago | (#45109953)

...in fact, on that point, you may've gotten yourself flagged as an anarchist already. Smooth.

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (1)

Gen_Music (2420986) | about 6 months ago | (#45110145)

Unfortunately, due to the fact that you are speaking in English in 2013 on the internet, the possible chances of that are 0.

And yes, I can write a program that could work that out for everyone's statements so I'm sure as hell that the NSA could, especially with all the rest of the accounts you have attached to your email address and social networks to correlate with..

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110411)

You are very obviously clueless about mathematics. Hint: You can often discover signals even when the noise level is a multiple of the signal. Actually, noise can never completely cover the signal. It just makes it somewhat harder to extract the signal.

Read up on that guy Shannon and his work at USG. Well, they called it "Bell System" or something.

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 6 months ago | (#45110447)

What are the tenets of Reformed Norse Paganism? Are they related to Reformed Druidism?

Re:Dataland or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying... (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 6 months ago | (#45110449)

No. Actually you are an outlier, your record sends all kinds of red flags.

Microsoft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45109897)

>'Dataland', a term suggested by Kate Crawford of Microsoft Research
>Microsoft

NYAHAHAHAHAH

OH WOW

Opionion disregarded, move along people.

Bushes? (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 6 months ago | (#45109901)

"Winston Smith . . . . . resorted to hiding the bushes with his lover "

I don't remember any bushes in that story.

Re:Bushes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45109967)

It was actually a shrubbery.

Re:Bushes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45109973)

There was in the movie ;-)

Re:Bushes? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110079)

"Winston Smith . . . . . resorted to hiding the bushes with his lover "

I don't remember any bushes in that story.

You know, neither did I, so I checked and there was a new paged taped in with bushes in the story. I guess I was wrong, there were always bushes in the story.

Re:Bushes? (1)

hutsell (1228828) | about 6 months ago | (#45110329)

"Winston Smith . . . . . resorted to hiding the bushes with his lover "

I don't remember any bushes in that story.

You know, neither did I, so I checked and there was a new paged taped in with bushes in the story. I guess I was wrong, there were always bushes in the story.

Congratulations citizen; you have at last achieved a victory over yourself and will begin to realize that all is well now.

Re:Bushes? (4, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | about 6 months ago | (#45110353)

"Winston Smith . . . . . resorted to hiding the bushes with his lover "

I don't remember any bushes in that story.

Exactly. Because Winston hid them, you never saw them.

Re:Bushes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45119591)

Of course you don't remember the bushes - they were hidden!.

Predictive purposes? (4, Informative)

m00sh (2538182) | about 6 months ago | (#45109913)

Reminds me of Google's data collection on its hard disk failures and hiring good programmers.

They couldn't find any sort of predictive factor. GPA, brain teasers etc had zero correlation. There was no hiring person that had statistically better performance at hiring good programmers.

There are some things that are just random.

Perhaps being able to predict accurately is the flying car of our generation. Or, perhaps some will say the answer is more data.

Re:Predictive purposes? (2, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 6 months ago | (#45109945)

Reminds me of Google's data collection on its hard disk failures and hiring good programmers.

They couldn't find any sort of predictive factor. GPA, brain teasers etc had zero correlation. There was no hiring person that had statistically better performance at hiring good programmers.

People still cling to the idea of using the past to predict the future.

Years ago I knew a guy who played the lottery a lot. He kept a list of all the previous winning numbers and spent countless hours studying the numbers looking for patterns that would allow him to predict future winning numbers. It never worked.

All of this data collection is essentially the same thing.

Re:Predictive purposes? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110025)

> He kept a list of all the previous winning numbers and spent countless hours studying the numbers looking for patterns that would allow him to predict future >winning numbers. It never worked.

Amazing.....that is the exact job description of a stock analyst.

Re:Predictive purposes? (5, Insightful)

Mirey (1324435) | about 6 months ago | (#45110037)

It's not really the same. Human behaviour is not inherently random. The lottery is. If I've bought a coffee every day for the last year, it's quite likely I'll buy one tomorrow. I thought everyone knew about Bayes?

Re:Predictive purposes? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110741)

I thought everyone knew statistics have zero predictive power (actually no, I didn't think everyone was that educated, in fact I knew most don't know shit no matter who or what they are: they'll believe whatever nonsense they find useful or least tasking).

Maybe you'll get in an accident or die before you fulfil your routine tomorrow. Maybe you oversleep or get woken up early and for whatever reason do not have time. Maybe the world ends. Maybe you've run out of coffee. Maybe you get a blowjob and forget all about coffee. Maybe anything.

Same goes for everything else; the Sun rising and so forth.

Zero predictive power, only “likelihoods” filled to the brim with unstated assumptions aka “the world”.

This has been Philosophy 101 calling you and if you think it's wrong you are by definition in more trouble than you're able to understand :)

Re:Predictive purposes? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45111617)

I predict the sun will rise in the horizon tomorrow.

And no, I'm not interested in arguing semantics. Somehow, statistics is used in science to establish positive tests. Ever heard of "outside 3 standard deviations"?

Statistics cannot 100% predict individual outcomes, but in many cases, the averages of yesterday will be similar to the averages tomorrow.

Anyways, statistics is old. Agent models and simulating potential outcomes from different potential agent actions and mixes of such, is where it begins to become interesting.

Re:Predictive purposes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45112755)

How good is your weather forecasting for this time next week?

Re:Predictive purposes? (1)

lennier (44736) | about 6 months ago | (#45116105)

And no, I'm not interested in arguing semantics.

Oh, so you're just arguing syntax then?

(Sir Tim Berners-Lee kills a SPARQL query whenever someone uses the word "semantic" to mean "lacking information content". Luckily, no-one notices.)

Re:Predictive purposes? (3, Insightful)

m00sh (2538182) | about 6 months ago | (#45110963)

It's not really the same. Human behaviour is not inherently random. The lottery is. If I've bought a coffee every day for the last year, it's quite likely I'll buy one tomorrow. I thought everyone knew about Bayes?

It is not fully predictive though.

One day, for whatever reason, you will stop buying coffee. That approximate day that will happen is not predictable because it is random.

So, you buying coffee tomorrow is quite predictable. You buying coffee 5 years from now is not.

Re:Predictive purposes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45114095)

True enough, but that gives you zero insight into the decision. I believe that more than stochastic results are desired here by the Usurian beancounters.. The obvious "solution" is to program the prediction into your mind. See Bernaise, Goebbels, Operation Mockingbird, etc. Insight no longer required, and damn the consequences as long as "we" have the inside scoop and cover all the alternatives.

Re:Predictive purposes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45112177)

Predicting the behavior of one person may be possible, but how about predicting the combined effect of thousands of people's individual decisions (i.e. a stock price). It may not be truly random, but close enough. Is a lottery drawing truly random? I would think if you could predict the direction of a stock price correctly even 51% of the time based on past performance, you would be a rich man.

Re:Predictive purposes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45157959)

* Predicting the behavior of one person may be possible, but how about predicting the combined effect of thousands of people's individual decisions (i.e. a stock price).

Greetings Mr Seldon. I presume you have appeared to announce a forthcoming crisis.

Re:Predictive purposes? (4, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 6 months ago | (#45110041)

Well, no; lottery numbers are known to be random. With human behaviour you at least have the underlying assumption that there are habits being picked up on. If all big data studies were as fruitless as your friend, the investments into the necessary infrastructure and algorithms wouldn't have made it nearly as far as they have. They do, however, find a lot of stupid correlations.

But much more importantly, the desire to find these correlations is potentially profound in its ability to damage society. The whole scheme is an effort to cheat the normal boundary of personal space in order to optimize business and surveillance efficiency. If this erosion spreads into everyday interactions between people, it'll be the end of trust. To fix it, we'd need who-knows-how-many Hollywood blockbusters about noble savages re-teaching the West how to act like decent human beings.

Perhaps if these businesses and government agencies were more willing to act like your friend and actually accept that life involves risk, we wouldn't be heading down this slippery slope so quickly.

Re:Predictive purposes? (1)

m00sh (2538182) | about 6 months ago | (#45110969)

Well, no; lottery numbers are known to be random. With human behaviour you at least have the underlying assumption that there are habits being picked up on. If all big data studies were as fruitless as your friend, the investments into the necessary infrastructure and algorithms wouldn't have made it nearly as far as they have. They do, however, find a lot of stupid correlations.

But much more importantly, the desire to find these correlations is potentially profound in its ability to damage society. The whole scheme is an effort to cheat the normal boundary of personal space in order to optimize business and surveillance efficiency. If this erosion spreads into everyday interactions between people, it'll be the end of trust. To fix it, we'd need who-knows-how-many Hollywood blockbusters about noble savages re-teaching the West how to act like decent human beings.

Perhaps if these businesses and government agencies were more willing to act like your friend and actually accept that life involves risk, we wouldn't be heading down this slippery slope so quickly.

This is the problem. People think there is a pattern in everything when there are things that are random. Finding surprising correlations here and there is completely different from being all-predictive.

Re:Predictive purposes? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#45114977)

The problem is when the associated policies make it predictive after the fact. Some random correlation becomes the bank's new high risk loan flag so they up the interest rates and clamp down on any amount of grace. So people matching become more likely to be foreclosed on, so the flag is predictive.

Re:Predictive purposes? (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | about 6 months ago | (#45112883)

I don't play the lottery, but you can win. Trick is to pick all the unlucky numbers (you don't predict the result but you can predict the human side of the equation) this way you don't have to split any winnings, because nobody else uses those numbers. A guy proved it works using past lottery results, and pretending to buy the unlucky numbers in bulk, after 15 years of past results he came out on top by around $100 000 i think.

Re:Predictive purposes? (5, Insightful)

amaurea (2900163) | about 6 months ago | (#45110137)

"Using the past to predict the future" is what we usually call "learning". Even goldfish and flies to it, and it has brought us all our science and technology. Why do people exit the door at the ground floor rather than windows 5 stories up? Because past experiences has taught us that things fall down, and that falling far is harmful. Why do you type words rather than random chains of letters? Because you predict from past data that people in the future will be able to read and understand them. Even the fact that lottery numbers are impossible to predict is a prediction about the future we make based on physical understanding (which we have learnt from data from the past) coupled with data about how the lottery process works.

You probably didn't mean to make as strong a statement as what you did but you basically said the single most anti-intellectual thing is is possible to say.

Re:Predictive purposes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45111693)

He may be a trader, or have heard of traders and that you cannot predict the future from past historical data.
To really understand why, you really need some domain knowledge, and not just repeat what other's have said though.
One need to understand this is said in relationship to trading, and in a strict sense, it is not always true there either.

Basically, every trade is publicized: Who bought it (a unique ID tags most retail would-be investors, but Big Money hides their tracks in dark pools), at which price and the volume.

Since all trades are known to everyone, everyone is free to use that information to speculate where price will go next. Thus, this negates any simple advantage of information awareness and knowledge that someone may have. But don't worry, the Big Money have much more knowledge and information than mere retail traders, so they can use that to keep an edge.

Kind of like how some secret people can keep an edge by gathering all this data in the main article / post. To what ends and the scope of it, we may only speculate on.

Re:Predictive purposes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110169)

What about using the present, to manipulate the present?

Information is power. Who gets to mine the data, and for what purposes, intentionally and unintentionally?
Who secures the data from being shared, and how well can it succeed?

Re:Predictive purposes? (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 6 months ago | (#45110483)

It does (used to) work in Roulette. But not well enough to beat the house. (It had to do with uneven wear on the support of the wheel. And it was specific to each individual wheel. I think they eliminated that possibility by occasionally polishing the bearings, or perhaps it was the axel.)

Re:Predictive purposes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110701)

Ontopic about the lame name: shut the fuck up microsoft, we know who pays you and you are scum.

And aiming for +5 Offtopic but far less mindnumbingly boring:

People still cling to the idea of using the past to predict the future.

Might be more interesting to try to use the future to predict the past or present.

How would we actually know that causal effects in their entirety only run along the perceived arrow of time (or more aptly falling down through it) when that is all we can perceive? The current status quo makes for an entire world and existence built on nothing except the absence of evidence :)

Maybe empirical rationality isn't all that rational or empirical after all.

Re:Predictive purposes? (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 6 months ago | (#45110799)

"People still cling to the idea of using the past to predict the future."

Do you think the sun will rise in the east tomorrow?

Re:Predictive purposes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45113985)

Heh. Some predictive programming is more equal than others. Some simply more delusional and psychopathic.

Consider that Bible, that foudation document of modern jurisprudence and Criminal (In)Justice, the "Maleus Maleficorum"

Now consider the ramifications of its authors working at, say, Google X, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Huwaei, etc.

Re:Predictive purposes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45114127)

Yeah, "oh, wait..."

Re:Predictive purposes? (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 6 months ago | (#45121577)

It's not really about prediction though. It's about manipulation. You can much more easily manipulate the future than predict it with a hands-off approach to its creation.

Re:Predictive purposes? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 months ago | (#45132575)

People still cling to the idea of using the past to predict the future.

Years ago I knew a guy who played the lottery a lot. He kept a list of all the previous winning numbers and spent countless hours studying the numbers looking for patterns that would allow him to predict future winning numbers. It never worked.

All of this data collection is essentially the same thing.

For things that are not entirely random, the past is a great predictor of the future. Things like trends and other factors do regularly show up time and time again - leading to the adage that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. Because it's likely it's happened before.

Thing is, you cannot take individual details and extrapolate from that (e.g., you bought coffee the past year, you'll buy one tomorrow).

The goal of dataland is to accumulate data and run behaviorial analysis - stuff like if you bought coffee yesterday AND the week before AND something else AND that other thing, you're 99.99% certain to buy a coffee today.

Of course, we don't know what "something else" and "that other thing" are. Which is why they have large data sets to mine data from.

It also leads to interesting correlations that may not explain why they're related, but that the two things pretty much go together with practical certainty.

And yes, there's no true predictability to it - it's a chaotic system, and humans do add some randomness, but there's more than an even chance.

A data score? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45109989)

Currently banks and lenders can ask a clearing house about our finacial activities and get a standardized credit score that can then be used to assess the risk of making a loan.

With ubiqitous data collection, we are already seeing the sale of lists of users who might be interested in a given marketing campaign, i.e. Target sending pregnacy sales/coupons to teens whose parents didn't even know yet.

It seems that at some point, organizations will want to know "How good is the available data on a given individual?" For a millenial who posts every minute of their lives online, it is likely that the available data is very high and pretty reliable. For a non-technical individual who carries out most of their activities off-line on a cash basis, the available data is pretty sparse and not very reliable.

Will data collection, big data, and continuous surveliance by business and governments lead to a data score similar to ones credit score? Will people be refused jobs/clearance based in part on this score? How would such a score and organizational behavior affect our society?

Re:A data score? (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#45110043)

The nice thing about inaccuracy is that (as long as you are tactful in your exploitation of the data) the user will never know if you fuck up; and if it becomes 'common knowledge' that people shrouded in mystery are usually passed over in favor of transparent choices, we'll probably start seeing advice on 'building persona', just as we currently have people interacting with financial institutions purely for the purpose of 'building a credit score'.

With big power... (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about 6 months ago | (#45110031)

must come big responsibility. Internet empowered all of us, we should be thankful for that. But having that power implies new rules of convivence. And abusing of that power just because you can always have undesirable consequences in the future.

Treat like credit reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110039)

Since these data are being used in some cases as part of a credit score, or to make decisions about hiring or loan qualification, they must be included under the same umbrella as credit reports: companies that keep the data must provide, fee of cost, a release each year to the person being quantified, and make corrections where information is false.

You have no record? (4, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#45110077)

The absence of data is even more suspicious. No facebook, gmail or Linkedin account? Not carrying your cell phone or laptop when entering the country? What are you trying to hide? I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think you can put enough chaff into the system to make a difference. The botnets can sort it out pretty quickly.

Microsoft should stifle (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 6 months ago | (#45110251)

They are the perpetrators of 'Dataland', and in bed with the NSA.
Avoid them -- they are worse than a cancer.

Re:Microsoft should stifle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110397)

Says who ? Government Inspector Gogol ?

Germans, Americans, French, English and so on have to realize that the Money World wants total control to secure their corrupt dealings. Gogol and Microsoft are just the latest instruments of Control.

Discover your local forest and animal world, get a nice hobby. Something as far from money as possible.

Afaik they have not yet bugged the forest, but your home might already be wired up and you pay for the leccy to power the microphones yourself.

PROTIPS (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45110373)

+Turn On Mobile Phone only a few times a day to check for new calls.
+ Use Cash as far as possible
+ TOR

Re:PROTIPS (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | about 6 months ago | (#45132563)

Sometimes when people suggest behaviour, I think of: "what happens when everyone does that?"
Just like if everyone ran ad-block, whole cool parts of the internet would soon go dark; if everyone only turned on their phone 3 times a day, we'ld never really be able to call anyone in the way some of us have come to appreciate / expect today.

My greatest fear (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 6 months ago | (#45110755)

Even more than true data getting out of some database, I fear false data getting in and accumulating. Someday, I will not be able to prove who I am because I won't be able to verify all of the false facts that have been stored about me.

Incompatible? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45111091)

If Word is broken by design, then so is HTML. It also combines a code-based markup like and cascading style sheets. I might agree that this was probably not the best idea, but it did not stop HTML from becoming the de facto standard markup language on the Internet.

Re:Incompatible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45111103)

> a code-based markup like and cascading style

See, Slash-dot also uses it :) I meant <b>

Prediction Troubles. Manipulation Destroys (4, Insightful)

jimbrooking (1909170) | about 6 months ago | (#45111639)

We wring our hands at the accursed sellers and buyers of our browsing habits. We glibly ignore what happens when we sit for a few hours in front of a television screen. Knowing our browsing habits gets us targeted ads. Getting our minds in a receptive mood by showing the trash that passes for content on commercial TV, then cramming crafty advertising into those receptive minds impels us to do things we wouldn't be predicted to do, which is manipulation.

Why do Americans lust after 2-ton gas-guzzlers to taxi the kids to school and fetch a couple of bags of groceries from the supermarket? Why does PHaRMA spend untold billions advertising expensive drugs that, in many cases, are no more effective than over-the-counter remedies? Why do so many of our people live in McMansions so expensive they are a paycheck away from foreclosure? Because advertising to minds pried open by "must-see" TV works.

The TV tells them what they want and how to get it - no money down, pennies per week. And this relentless barrage of hard, soft, and subliminal sales messages passes into the TV-watcher's mind with nothing getting in the way like critical thinking, priorities, or social or environmental concerns.

We ought to be more worried about what 10-20 hours watching TV every week is doing to us and our society than whether Google is showing us an ad for suntan lotion after we've booked a trip to the Caribbean.

Re:Prediction Troubles. Manipulation Destroys (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45111975)

This stuff you're talking about is all behavior driven by the need to keep up appearances. Guys in the US have to drive trucks or they're not going to get laid. You need to own a large mcmansion or there is obviously something wrong with your finances. Even the pharma stuff is like that. You should hear my relatives bragging about how many prescription pills they need to stay alive.
Pop culture is the driver. You need to be conversant on americal idol or the latest failures of your football team at the water cooler, or risk spending lunches by yourself. Conversely, publicly worrying about the NSA makes you some sort of conspiracy paranoiac and once again, solo lunches.

Ads have something to do with all this, but are certainly not the cause. Media manipulation is present, but the cause of all this is peer pressure.

Re:Prediction Troubles. Manipulation Destroys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45115219)

Less peer pressure than what's currently on the stack rather than off in ram or storage.

Product placement, as it were. Works for political operations as well as selling widgets. When there's a distinction.

There's a reason for the sound bite. Overload shallows the stack. Figure in water cooler schedules, etc., works out to about 30 sec. tops. binding time with peers, per meme or association, assuming a strong pre-shared hook.

If you think you have moral authority to lock people up with laws made this way, though, well, there's probably a bullet justly wating for you at some point..

Re:Prediction Troubles. Manipulation Destroys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45115779)

Hmm, let me rephrase that last sentence. It sounds a tad inflammatory. Even bloodthirsty. All I meant to indicate though was that karma applies here, and karma is a fickle bitch subject to predictive programming herself, and even delusions on occasion. So, let's say, " If you think you have moral authority to lock people up with laws made this way, though, well, let's hope you're never compelled to speak sensibly to a weaponized robot [slashdot.org]"

The Ft Benning Manuver Battle Lab assures us that "The robot may acquire an enemy target, but it will still always ask a human for permission to fire," however, remember that Gen. Alexander and the DNI both assured us that no way was the NSA conducting mass surveillance on US citizens. It takes a while sometimes for the compartmentalized DoD to come to know what it or some contractor already has been doing for a long time.

Meanwhile, real soldiers conduct one last campaign [wtop.com] No editorials, but I'm taking a moment to thank them for their service.

Re:Prediction Troubles. Manipulation Destroys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45114337)

Then do what Iceland did. Will fix all of this. In a hurry. .

The world would become a nice place for all. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45112461)

If we all just turned off cookies.

Thought control is happening right now! (2)

hexpill (3396071) | about 6 months ago | (#45113367)

Are you kidding me? We have two political parties in the USA with very powerful propaganda arms designed to tell people exactly what to think. They use half-truths, flawed statistics, and exaggerations. These lies are not difficult to refute, yet people willingly accept the lies just because they're so willing to gravitate to the political echo chambers that are Fox News and MSNBC, among others. In a republic, if a representative is able to control what his/her constituents think, he has essentially become dictator-by-deception. Thought control is here, it's just that people have become willing recipients of the propaganda.

Re:Thought control is happening right now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45114105)

Mod this up please. Never seen it put so well before.

Re:Thought control is happening right now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45114483)

Look, chasing dollars long enough just to survive and pay the interest on them to the Fed in a vicious losing cycle is the engine driving all this. Dismantle the Fed and abolish the Federal Income Tax, and the propaganda will dry up literally overnight. Quit blaming people when the deck is stacked. I'm sick of this kind of mind-job, asking the victims to assume the blame. Your elected representatives are almost all completely invested in the fraud, though, so don't hold your breath waiting for a legitimate government to return to the US, and don't count on the "May Ultimatum", either. That's one of the things Dataland is designed to address. No, this is going to take some creative thinking and some commitment by a lot more than at present. Nearly half the population is still locked in the classical pie-in-the-sky slave mentality, nearly all the other half deluded by promises of secular manna, healthcare, and other socialist pipe-dreams financed at interest by we all know who to be paid for by you guessed it.

Sorry to bash Google so bad today. If we're going to have Data Overlords I'd sooner it be them than some Canadian kleptocrat, some Hindu colonial holy roller, or some hypocritical Russian or Chinese party hack moralizing sanctimoniously through a state news organ. But I'd rather just do without, at least until Mark Forer shows up.

guess what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45114049)

There's no good way to fix the abuse of power. The only hope we have is to make a game that is universally accepted, applicable to everyone, and consistently provides utility. So far we've been extremely unsuccessful in doing that. When I was a kid I used to dream of a world that would resolve its disputes with chess matches. Even chess is completely broken now. Anyone who has any foresight or common sense knows that this money game is broken too. As with everything, it'll die a slow and agonizing death before we sloppily tag together another secondary reinforcement system that will break even faster than money. Also if we expect miracle like technologies to serve us, like an army of flawless robot servants, then we're in for a world of stupid. It's easier for all of us to write off everything on "the government", "war on xyz", "big data" (although those things certainly do impede any hope of solutions to our needs) if a person really has a good game then these things shouldn't really matter. It's up to each one of us to contribute what he or she can to a game that will address individual needs and promote independence.

Dataland (1)

Dabido (802599) | about 6 months ago | (#45120997)

It's double plus good that Kate Crawford should report for re-education. Inventing a word that did not come from the Ministry of Truth is rebellion. She is obviously a friend of Emmanuel Goldstein. Hail Big Brother.
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