Thomas Keenan 2014 Tigard Library 323.448 KEE

There are many books about the things (Technology /and or/ The Internet) Does Wrong, and Keenan's book is useful in that it describes threats that Bruce Schneier doesn't. Keenan focuses on things that creep us out, and websites and technologies (actual, failed, or imagined) that are creepy - or should be considered so. And as is de riguer for such books, the last two chapters are about "things you should do to protect yourself" and "things you should ask your government for".

I am one of the designers of upstream technologies that can be abused, and heartily agree that creepy outcomes should be assiduously avoided through careful design choices. I read these books looking for "clues for responsible design", professional ethics, etc., and do not find them. I also am disturbed that the prognostication of future threats is mostly based on worst fears rather than physics, economics, and psychology. I am not nearly as worried about world-destroying robots as I am of passive fellow citizens who will tolerate any abuse if it is subtle and attached to something fascinating. What does the physics actually permit, what will the good guys and bad guys pay for, and what design choices can we make to steer ourselves towards more benign outcomes?

If "code is law", as Lawrence Lessig writes, what are the coders paid to write? Will coders and tinkerers accept lower pay in return for higher purposes? Will we draw some ethical boundaries for our professions and castigate those who cross them?

We create organizations like the NSA, Apple, Microsoft, and Google, whose secretive behavior and insider mentality creates a culture of superiority and entitlement. How do we remind these people that their power comes from the rest of us, and our slavish devotion can turn into widespread destructive rage when they are found out? The more these organizatoin hide and delay that discovery, the farther beyond the bounds of decency they can stray. And the farther they are from decency, the greater the outrage and the more grisly the lynching that results - attacking monsters is much easier than restoring sanity. We should foster ethics and oversight, not just to protect the deluded public, but to protect those who will someday face the public's wrath.

Technocreep (last edited 2015-09-25 21:05:08 by KeithLofstrom)