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GPS….Gonna Protect Society…really???

No matter how alone we think we are, it seems as if someone usually knows where we are throughout the day.  Whether it is a phone company or Big Brother, now we that someone really does know our every location.  We do not like to think about it, but our phones , aka our lifelines to the outside world, has become a sort of GPS that we willingly carry around in our pockets and bags.  The government and corporations have been trying to convince the public about the good benefits of this technology with arguments like it can help to keep track of wandering children or teenagers or even cheating spouses.  Or these phones can help the government find potential terrorists.  There is also the sales pitch that iPhone apps can help owners locate their lost or stolen phones.

But even with all these benefits, I cannot help but feel that such technology is an invasion to my privacy.  Maybe it is just me, but I think that people should be allowed to do things that they do not want other people to know about, as long as it is not illegal.  Even though many services like Google Latitude have customers “opt in” in order to use their personal phones as a GPS, critics have argued that the public does not what info Google is retaining (even if Google claims that they are retaining nothing).  And even if Google is found to be participating in some kind of wrongdoing, our legal system is behind our technology, so it is doubtful that some form of legal action could successfully take place.  With few legal restrictions, the door has been left open for Google, as they have more opportunities to sell our data to whomever they want to.  But what bothers me the most about these hidden features in our technology is that society is willing to accept it in the name of convenience.  We may not like the fact that Big Brother is spying on us, but I do not know many people who will not carry around a phone, just so no one knows where he or she is.  And the US government recognizes our compliancy in this matter as reports have surfaced that the government is considering tracking our phones without a warrant because “Americans enjoy no “reasonable” expectation of privacy in their or at least their cell phones whereabouts.”  In the end, no matter how Americans feel about a GPS in their cell phones, we will do nothing about it.  For many members of our society, we have no problem complaining or voicing our opinions, but putting those words into actions is a whole other matter.

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To scan or not to scan, that is the question.

As we explored the concept of the connectome in class, we can see how ideas can become realized with today’s technology.  In this digital age, it does not seem unthinkable to imagine that the connections in the human brain could one day be mapped, as only a few years ago we saw the completion of the human genome project.  I believe that scanning our brains for our memories can have some good outcomes, especially as we age into adulthood and as our memories continue to fade further.  Even though I do not completely understand such technology, I do believe that it could be extremely beneficial for people with neurological diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  And I would hope that cures, as well as preventative measures could be one result from connectome research.

Although mapping our brains can have many benefits, I am not totally sold on such technology.  First of all, since I view myself as a private person, I do not like the idea that my personal memories, thoughts and experiences could one day be accessible or bought by any or everyone.  I do not like the idea that my memories could be committed to a computer and could one day be used against me.  In this day and age of social networking, where people are more than willing to share all the details of their lives with EVERYONE else, online thieves and scammers have already found a way to use blog post to scam unsuspecting people.  For example, I recently heard a story warning grandparents to be weary of thieves who are posing as their grandchildren.  Apparently, thieves get the name of a grandparent from the grandchild’s facebook account, call the grandparent and act as the grandchild and ask the unknowing grandparent for money.  When the grandparent asks the ‘fake grandchild’ a personal question, the thief makes up a response based on the real grandchild’s facebook posts.  But that is just one example of an unintended consequence of social networking.  Another reason why I am weary about connectome technology is understood in society’s loop-back response to technology.  For example, in the article “How Neuroscience is Changing the Law,” the author writes about how neuroscience technology may one day be able to tell scientists, lawyers and judges what state of mind a person was in when they committed a crime, the accuracy of memories from a witness, and the differences in the brain between those who have the capacity to control their behavior from those who are less able (such as adolescents).  Such neuroscience has great implications in our legal system because it could mean that guilty people, no matter their personal intentions, may be able to go unpunished for their crimes if lawyers can show that the suspects brain showed he / she was not sane or did not have the capacity to recognize that their crime was wrong.  But such technology could also bring about innocent verdicts for innocent people, as lawyers could have a way to prove that some witness testimonies are erroneous.  As always, technology with all its consequences is such a conundrum.

Here’s the link to the original article: http://bigthink.com/ideas/24324?page=all

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