Part 3 – What’s Next?

Part 1 - The Future

Ray Kurzweil argues in his book “The Singularity Is Near”, humans will eventually transcend their biology thanks to information technology and artificial intelligence systems.(155) While I agree with Mr. Kurzweil’s conclusions, I disagree with the nature of the path humans will reach that destination by virtue of simply increased computing power as he suggests. Without knowing and protecting our digital selves first, I would argue the human race runs the risk of an Orwellian 1984 future.(156) The nature and sensitivity of the personal identifiable information available thanks to data aggregation, eCommerce, and search engine companies is staggering. When technology knows more about the habits, desires, memories, and behaviors of humans than traditional governance systems, a period of governmental insecurity has the opportunity to erupt.  In fact, given the Snowden revelations it arguably already has.

Professor Joel Trachtman at the Fletcher School wisely stated,

“Information communications technologies enable people who otherwise would never have had a voice, to now “speak truth to power” thanks to the ability to organize, communicate, and synchronize faster than ever seen in the history of humanity.”(157)

While technology has contributed to recent global uprisings that have overthrown governments, it was the people who actually did it, not the technology.(158) The technology enabled them to hurdle the “Dissident Collective Action Problem” according to Trachtman, otherwise people probably would not have risen up to those in power.(159)

I agree wholeheartedly with Prof. Trachtman and also believe that our personal, civil, corporate, and governmental sovereignty is paramount and worthy of a new interpretation to the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that recognizes that our digital lives have the same rights as our physical lives.

Intelligent Multi-Factor Authentication Security Technology utilizes all facets about ourselves that companies have used to feed us links and advertisements, I would argue we owe it to ourselves to know thy digital selves and to thy own self be true. Leverage the greatest attributes about being human; to inoculate the global digital nervous system from additional and increasing infection by treating it with this technology is not a sufficient condition, but a necessary one to avoid an Orwellian 1984 future.(160)

In Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows”, Carr pontificates on the question; does the Internet make the human race more intelligent or more susceptible?(161) The Answer I would argue is “yes” to both parts of the question and it is our own collective responsibility to ensure the Internet is a tool that remains on balance positive for the human race both today and in the future. Technologies by their nature are intended to serve a human purpose, if a technology no longer does, change is required.

Given the brevity of the case studies discussed in Part 3, the significant compromising of both technology providers, government institutions, and private corporations of all types, the time is now to institute change in the system both technologically and legally. The technology is available to effectively accomplish the mission, but is the political will available for explicit data privacy and security laws to be written and enforced by this technology? I am of the opinion that this is our collective passport to a new world with a bright future.

Next up: The Future of Civic Engagement

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