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Converging Trends and Technologies Enabling the Police State

Technologies Enabling the Police StateTechnologies Enabling the Police State describes the inevitability of pervasive surveillance, how it’s developing, and how we can act now to maintain the maximum degree of freedom. This is Part1 of a series on autonomy in the digital age. Personal and Collective Actions to Maintain Autonomy (Part2) is a how-to post, while Police State Scenarios (Part3) discusses ways that collective loss of autonomy may unfold.

Despite their grim titles, these posts are not intended as doomsday writings, and I don’t intend to say that I think a police state is being developed intentionally. My conclusion is rather that the technologies of mass control are developing rapidly, and the risk is significant that some group will seize control of them in the foreseeable future. I think you’ll find some of their points surprising, perhaps even breakthrough. Please let me know in comments!

I did not want to write this post, and I doubt that you want to read it; however, as I explain here, we’re at a pivotal point of human history. We are rapidly losing our individual and […]

Behavioral Economics, Autonomy and Ethical Land Mines

Overview: Behavioral Economics Autonomy and Ethics user experience designBehavioral economics autonomy and ethics is a thought experiment on how to approach “doing good” when applying the emerging practice of behavioral economics. Along with big data analytics and cognitive science, behavioral economics affords businesses, governments and other organizations unprecedented impact on individuals’ behavior, even without their consent or awareness. This arouses serious ethical and social dilemmas.

Every behavioral economics practitioner I’ve met has emphasized the importance of using its practice “for good” in order to help people. Like all other human endeavors, however, “for good” is open to interpretation, so I’ll apply my experience with ethnographic and behavioral analysis of social media to reflect on what “for good” might mean in light of individual and group autonomy.

I also hope this Noodle will be food for thought for executives who hire behavioral economics firms as well as all of us who are invariably its subject. In a similar vein, most designers I know are committed to using design principles to improve user experience, and there’s considerable overlap between design and behavioral economics.

Behavioral economics is as […]

On Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things

Autonomy Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of ThingsAutonomy Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things reflects on how people’s autonomy will be affected by software-powered devices and systems that are rapidly permeating our individual and social lives.

Although this noodle has a strong personal angle for me, I also have the unusual benefit of having regular conversations with people who are leading the redesign of our “environment.” By superimposing digital devices, sensors, and “intelligence” onto the physical world, designers, engineers, policy makers, behavioral economists, neuroscientists, nanoscientists, and investors, just to name a few, are changing how we perceive and interact with our “world,” so I’ll also bring my insights from those conversations to it. Finally, I’ll consider creator and user points of view on autonomy artificial intelligence and the Internet of things.

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