Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

The end is near…of industrial production

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

“The future of sharing is near, and physical” reads on the front page of The Pirate Bay today.

The link points at a 3D printer called RepRap that can replicate itself. Yes, it’s a printer that can print out its own design.

“[RepRap] has been called the invention that will bring down global capitalism, start a second industrial revolution and save the environment…”
– The front page of The Guardian, November 25, 2006.

The technology has been around for a while, but what makes the device interesting is that it costs 500 dollars to build yourself.

In the future you will go to The Pirate Bay, download a 3D model of Louis Vuitton’s latest bag and print it right out to give to your girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. The chinese factories for pirate goods will go out of business. In short term, they will switch to supplying the market with 3D scans of high-demand goods from all around the world, thus catalyzing the big switch. Stuff will flow into sweat factories, not out.

If you think The Pirate Bay is in the center of a generational shift and cultural transformation, check back again once the 3D models start flooding in. People who will be upset next will be designers, craftsmen, architects, manufacturers and those who supply the market with competitive traditional distribution channels.

Even more interesting will be the creativity of individuals who now with abundant access to virtual models of original physical designs, will create mashups unleashing iterations of cultural artefacts and cultural advancement never seen before by mankind.

In fact, the good itself is not going to be interesting anymore. A new page will turn that depicts the emergence of new behavioral patterns around objects. The mobile phone turns into a device for controlling a web of objects. The objects that we care share a history with us that has been digitally recorded, broadcasted, stored and linked with our surroundings. We will index our environment like maniac librarians.

The bottom line is that our current lifestyle of using material goods is not sustainable. We have to go for it, despite the Luddites who reject the new technology because of it’s potential short term negative consequences. The trade-off is far too great for this opportunity to be missed.

The manufacturers in the world of 3D-printers will be in the same situation where record labels are with digital filesharing or where mainframe manufacturers were with the advent of personal computers. New business models will emerge from this friction, rebuilding new avenues that will propel us right out of the galaxy – or inside our own minds and bodies as we start experimenting with bio technology.

The Pirate Bay for bionics will appear.

I would be leeching and mashing up artificial life and cyborg body extensions. If that doesn’t anger someone, then I don’t know what could. At that very moment I would be ready to upload myself to the digital planetary consciousness just to escape the political nightmare.

Go and read Bruce Sterling‘s Shaping Things for more.

Monetizing privacy

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

“I’ve never looked through a keyhole without finding someone was looking back.” — Judy Garland

Today is a moment for a dose of privacy concerns. Many who know me know that I’m not as scared about privacy issues in social media as some others, but I’d like to rise some issues to your awareness that you might or might not know.

My brother sent me a link to a video (Does what happens in the FaceBook stay in the FaceBook) about privacy concerns regarding Facebook. According to the story, FaceBook knows a lot about its users, including but not limited to media consumption interests (movies, books, music), personal media productions (photos, videos, blogs), contact information (address, home town, phone number, email, IMs), organization memberships (work history, clubs, educational history, political affiliations), personal details (name, birthday, sexual orientation, interests, daily schedules, personal relationships) and so forth.

Third party application support fuels this onwards with new and innovative ways to extract information about Facebook users.

Even if you don’t proactively share this information, your friends will do it for you. They are constantly harassing you to reveal as much about yourself as possible with continuous streams of relationship confirmations and invitations to join certain activities where information about you is made public. Turning down such invitations from your friends is not a very nice thing to do either, so once you are a member, ignorance is often hard to maintain.

According to the terms of service, Facebook has the right to use this information world-wide without any restriction or your prior knowledge, even sell it. This is what you agree on when you sign up.

Of course this is nothing new. Google employs the same strategies to monetize your privacy. Google knows a lot about their users and uses that information to better target advertisements and information for personal interests.

They know your search history, what links you follow, what sites you view (where Google AdSense or Analytics is present), every email you send (Gmail), every instant messaging conversation (GTalk), every calendar appointment (Google Calendar), what you read (Google Reader), what you have on your hard-disk (Google Desktop), where and how you took your photos (Picasa), where you are going (Google Maps), what videos you watch (over 60% of online videos are watched on Youtube) and many other things. Soon they might have access to your radio and television consumption habits.

Recently they have bought a company that records your gaming style (e.g. aggressive) to better target advertisements inside or outside games. They create psychological profiles of their users. Recent Jaiku acquisition is interesting. Jaiku allows them to use your phone to retrieve information on where you are, who you are with, your status (e.g. busy) and what you are doing. The service you are using today might be part of Google tomorrow. If Google buys Amazon, Yahoo and eBay tomorrow, they will dominate the online world. They might even implant you with a chip that reads all your sensory input and brain activity.

There are a few great videos on the privacy issues related to Google: Master Plan – About the Power of Google and EPIC 2015. What is behind the screen?

Both Facebook and Google are very open about their pursuits to privatize your privacy and don’t even try to hide the facts. Both companies are trusted and loved by their users. We just love Google’s ability to figure out what we want.

Sounds like a lot of trouble. George Orwell’s 1984, surveillance during the cold war, WW2 and recent war against terrorism all come to mind. The difference this time around is that it’s not the state only, but private companies and every one of us. Recently I’ve often cited Marshall McLuhan, and I do so once again. In his conversation about the drawbacks of the Global Village:

Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library, the world has become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence.

I heard Pär Lannerö talk about Google in a conference recently. He noted that this time around the little brother of the big brother is you, the celebrated person of the year according to Time Magazine.

Congratulate yourself not just for your creativity, but also your contribution to the negative connotations of the global village.

None of this is going to be a problem if we can trust both Facebook and Google, just like Google’s motto goes, “do no evil”. But can we? What if governments force them to hand over information? What if they are already cooperating with authorities without your knowledge? What if someone steals information from their databases?

In February 2003 Total Information Awareness (TIA) project was started by the Department of Defence as a result of 9/11 to better be able to predict such terrorist attacks. Information Awareness Office’s mission was the following:

Imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness.

This mass-surveillance system was supposed to gather biometric data (face, finger prints, gait, iris), transactional data (banks, credit cards, money transmitters, casinos, brokerage firms), travel data (airlines, railroads, car rentals), medical histories, event participation histories, housing, communications (cell, landline, internet), ID information (passports, visas, work permits, driver’s licenses), gun purchases, internet activity, chemical purchases, criminal records and so forth.

This information was supposed to be linked together in ways that could detect suspicious activity. Due to privacy concerns the funding of this project was terminated in 2004, but the core of the system did survive.

Facebook investors can be traced back to TIA, CIA and other agencies. There are even rumors that Google is already cooperating with the authorities but take that with a grain of salt.

What if such systems are used to make a very convincing case against you by linking unrelated events together, where you have no way to prove otherwise? At Crete I discussed some of these issues with Erik Duval and he noted that this is fine as long as you have the ability to do the same for them. If the same data that Google, Facebook and other agencies utilize is open for everyone including you, then in a true democratic way both opinions can be heard and perspectives integrated. I stand on the same conclusion, we have to make sure that the data behind your online activities remains accessible by you.

Giving away privacy through social media has two implications that are the opposites sides of the same coin, the difference between an empowering light and total blinding darkness. Social media has the potential to become a place that fuels totalitarianism and disintegration of privacy. On the other hand, it has the keys to create a global mind sphere capable of learning and problem-solving on a massive scale never before seen in human history.

Two-way journalism

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

404516927 5dfd0ff713 m Two way journalism

I had a lunch today and two journalists Paula Javanainen and Eero Liesimaa from Iltalehti dropped on the scene to interview me and Lotta about food smells refering to the relationship between Susan Kuronen and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (latest cheap mockery in finnish politics). They asked to take pictures of me and Lotta in close positions so I asked the same from them. I didn’t get the kiss, though icon smile Two way journalism

I told them I would blog this. It was the first time in their journalistic career when an interviewee would do that. A true two-way conversation, as it should be. Democracy is about voice, not vote. Democracy is about two-way conversation, not one way broadcast. Democracy is about multiple points of view, not just one side of the issue. What is great about blogging is that you can easily publish your side of the matter in your own voice.

The funny thing was that when I was writing a text message to my Jaiku river, they appeared. I wrote in the end of my message “Iltalehti haastattelee icon smile Two way journalism ” and sent the text message to inform about my whereabouts. Virtual and physical spaces are crossing here. I guess they didn’t have a clue that potentially the rest of the online world was aware in almost real-time what they were doing. My Jaiku log is in my blog sidebar, which means that everyone who follows my blog could see on an instant what I’m doing and when. One hour later they could see this blog post.

We had a brief conversation on blogs. Paula thinks that blogs are a great source of material for journalists. Her understanding of blogging changed after the Tsunami. I told them that finnish understanding of blogging doesn’t yet cover organizations and knowledge work as much as it covers citizen journalism and politics. My point was that all organizations should have internal “dating systems”, a way for every individual in the organization to express their own voice and to get to know other people in the organization by following their voices. Innovations happen when two people from different domains meet in the intersection. Increasing the density, randomness and intensivity of communication inside organizations produces a fertile ground for innovations to prosper. We need technology that supports informal interaction as much as we have technology that supports formal business processes. Paula agreed and proposed that what I said about knowledge sharing was something that could be useful in their organization. I of course, would be glad to be helpful.

Blood in the streets

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

I really enjoyed Harold Pinter’s Nobel Lecture. Enjoying might not be good phrasing, as it includes so many disturbing facts about acts of horror against the human-kind.

The speech is brilliant and touching. A man fighting cancer with nothing to loose, writes his spiritual testament:

“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

He even goes on to volunteer as a speech writer for Bush:

God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden’s God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam’s God was bad, except he didn’t have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don’t chop people’s heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don’t you forget it.

The link includes the lecture which was pre-recorded, and shown on video December 7, 2005, at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm.

New Orleans the Achilles Heel of US economy

Saturday, September 3rd, 2005

An interesting article by STRATFOR points to a bigger picture that the mass media doesn’t. The devastation of New Orleans and its effect on global economy is not only an issue about oil, but more about the whole agriculture of the Mississippi region. The region had built the US economy in the first place and it’s the place where all the rivers – and therefore – all goods flow. Without people operating a port in the mouth of the Mississippi river and absence of a system to support those people, the result will be a disturbing impact not only on the US economy, but on the global economy as well.