Edward Snowden recently did an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) on Reddit where he said:
Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.
A pithy statement, is it not? Unfortunately, the situation is not so simple – privacy and free speech are at odds with each other both technologically and legally. This is because the ability to preserve privacy and free speech are inversely related by the same fundamental processes. Simply stated, that which makes free speech more possible makes privacy less possible.
In this article I will show how the degradation of one’s privacy is inevitable and potentially accelerates over time by factors outside one’s direct control. This is a recent phenomenon brought upon by the digitization of information, always-on connectivity and continuous advancements in machine learning. These technologies and the infrastructures built from them also facilitate the propagation of uncensored free speech.
Thus one can accept the futility of preserving their privacy yet still cherish their freedom of expression. One day we will truly have very little to hide, regardless of whether we have something to say. Continue reading The Privacy Equation
I never passed English in high school. Can you tell?
Grade school was a miserable experience. As a socially immature individual with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, public education and I were never moving at the same speed. Most days were a constant struggle between acting out and doing just enough to get the teachers to leave me alone so that I could read whatever book I’d brought from home. The experience mercifully ended when I sat in the vice principal’s office facing two options: take and pass the GED or face expulsion.
So whose fault was it? That’s a trick question.
To blame any teacher of mine is a ridiculous notion. Even properly medicated, an individual with ADHD is highly driven to seek out that which is most stimulating to them – be it acting out in uninteresting classes or completely ignoring instruction in favor of reading ahead in the book. To spend as much time as is necessary to handle a student like I was is simply not feasible or rational within our current system. There are 30+ other students who require less effort to achieve greater academic success.
Am I to blame then? Well, if the intention was for me to learn to conform and thrive within the given constraints, I failed spectacularly. At the same time though, how realistic is it to expect someone who is twice their mental age in some areas and half their age in others to succeed in a fixed pace, rigidly structured learning environment?
I failed to adapt to the system, and the system failed to adapt to me. If the goal is to see me educated, where should the responsibility of adaptation ultimately lie? My argument is that adaptability must be intrinsic to the educational process. What is needed is an ever evolving, always on “teacher” with infinite patience and the capability of drilling down to minute granularity any subject matter it is versed in.
Science fiction? No, it’s the future of education.
Continue reading The Future of Education
A recurring theme in sci-fi is the danger that new technology presents to mankind.
Perhaps the pinnacle of dystopic scenarios is the Singularity, that moment where artificial intelligence (AI) begins continuously self-improving to the point where we potentially lose control. This was the premise for the popular Terminator movies and others such as I, Robot and Transcendence, each featuring a race to shut the technology down before it grew out of control.
In this discussion, I will be making the argument that defending us from technology on a per-item basis is an intractable problem, thus the best solution requires focusing on the human beings who would erroneously or maliciously utilize technology to cause harm. I’m going to suggest a far more radical measure than simple psychological profiling or background checks. In order to appreciate its necessity, the intractability problem must be fully understood. Continue reading The Intractability Problem