Saturday, 14 December 2013

How to protect yourself in 2014.

Some things will only become active in 2015. Or 2016. Or 2025 for that matter.
They will happen though. The technology already exists. Here are warnings that can't be repeated enough.
1. Please be very, very careful with what you post online
Ever noticed how IT geeks never ever use their name online? Never use their real photo? Never use an email address that gives any hint about who they actually are?
Because they are aware of what the consequences can be. What you put online is indestructible. Regardless about your 'privacy settings', any larger company, amateur hacker or entity can get to it. If not today, then in 20 years from now. What you do today, can hurt your career in 10 years from now.

2. Be careful with what you do online
There are companies who are hacked, and companies who do not know that yet.
Not hacked, does not exist.
Gone are the days that hacking was a means of boycotting or damaging you. Today it is all about collecting information. Monitoring the moves and plans of competition as well as the behavioural patterns of 'consumers'.
You are a tiny company debating a thrilling concept or invention? And then you suddenly discover someone in China was faster than you?
This happens all the time. It's more rule than exception.
3. The effect of your personal photos
You set foot in a restaurant, for the very first time, and the Maitre D has already identified you as a lover of Italian food.
Stronger: he might already know there are lovers of Italian food in the neighbourhood.
Your photo has been posted online so many times now, and the technology already exists to have it automatically cross-referenced with your likings and online behaviour.
Sure, some of you might find that good service. Or even awesome.
Those of you who know the effects of instant gratification on your overall sense of happiness, will find this harmful. (We like those things that remain special or only have once in a while).
Or you might feel this turns you from a human into merely a 'consumer'.
We are all used (and use) the quick glance: that quick scanning of a person, from his shoes to his haircut and car, in order to check out his reliability, finances or social standing. This is now industrialised.
4. The power
In a previous article I mentioned how Google knows more about you, than you yourself. For the simple reason they can analyse the behaviour of a billion people and put it into patterns.
They can detect whether you show the typical behaviour of a gay, feminist, maverick, anarchist, socialist, Muslim, passive aggressive, politically risky, non-consuming, alternative,... long before you know yourself.
Their knowledge is worth trillions.
Governments can still control the massive returns of taxes, it are Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and a few dozen other multinationals that have the knowledge.
They are the rising Roman empire of today.
And just as any empire, need to spread a message of 'goodness'. Just as we went to Africa to 'spread the message of God', to Irak 'to bring freedom'. Especially in the West there are more people who worship Steve Jobs than Jesus, Bill Gates is 'the philanthropist', Facebook only wants 'to bring people together', etc.

That will be very interesting to monitor.
If you know yourself, you know half the world. If you feel reluctant to jump on a wagon, it means that millions of others feel that too.
The explosion in consumer technology might be spinning out of control - there are many examples of inventions that were just not taken on board.
Nobody will dispute that an automatic car is handier. Even after decades it has still not made waves in Europe. Generation after generation keep preferring the clutch. Quadrophonia is better than stereo. Again, just not taken on board.  Or just see how people love to keep struggling with peanuts.
Stereo, clutch, peanuts... very often it is about the pleasure in doing something, rather than have it prepared.
So let's see where you will pass. When will things become a bridge too far for you.
When your eye movements will be tracked on a tablet?
When your brain can be printed in 3D? (already possible)
When every stranger can scan you and instantly know everything about you?
Some of you will say: brilliant!
Some of you will find this a full handover to bigger powers - and ones that will be near to impossible to ever get out of. And to end on a pleasant note:
You are still the captain of your ship

Right now, in December 2013, you still are.
You will decide who you will be in that brand new world, or what signal you want to give right now.
Every move of you online, is a political one.


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