Dec. 19 Socrates Cafe


Socrates Café
Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Our Socrates Café is a place and time for us to get together to exchange thoughtful ideas and experiences in order to learn by pondering the questions and opinions of others.

All political, economic and social points of view are welcomed and encouraged.
The only ground rule is that we will be polite to those opinions that differ from our own.

The Impact of Technology on Privacy
The impact of technology has in many cases been a mixed blessing to humanity, often with unexpected consequences. The automobile provided rapid transportation for millions who previously had to depend on walking, coal driven trains, and horses. Gone were the city streets reeking of manure, replaced by the freedom of workers to live in areas not in close proximity to their places of employment. The costs to society, however, were the increased air pollution and highway deaths.

In the last half-century, we have seen the introduction of devices and processes which have had consequences far beyond their original intent. Further, we now have the ability to implement methods and procedures whose implications we have not considered or thoroughly evaluated:

  • EZPass is convenient and allows us to speed through toll booths, but it also provides the state with a record of how fast we were travelling and a record of where and when we go.
  • Our computers offer Internet access to a multiplicity of interesting and useful sites, while also giving both the ISP and the places we visit a record of who we are and a record of our access.
  • Some car insurance companies give a discount if we allow them to track where we go, and when. In return, they have a comprehensive record of where, when, and how fast we travel.
  • Facebook and others sell access to specific personal information of users of their sites.
  • Credit cards are very handy, but how many of us consider that we have given Visa, MasterCard, and American Express a comprehensive record of what, where, and when we buy something?
  •  If we were to register DNA at birth, we would ensure that many more crimes would be solved. Are we willing to lose that level of privacy?
  •  To increase our safety would we accept ubiquitous video cameras recording us on city streets?
  •  Loosening HIPAA rules would permit those showing signs of mental instability to be monitored and be ineligible to buy guns or explosives. Would we want that level of oversight?
  • Would we support a massive common HIPAA catalog of our data to allow much faster and comprehensive analysis of lifestyles and treatments of illnesses. Should it be implemented?

How much of our privacy are we willing to give up to achieve the benefits of technology?