You can’t go too very far these days without running into a story about some new technology that has been developed that tracks you in some way. In fact, in the Digest below, you’ll see a story about Google’s newest acquisition of a company that developed messaging software that does a dandy job of just that.
Clearly we are never going to put this genie back in the bottle. Tracking technology is only going to proliferate. And many of us are enjoying the benefits. I'm pretty sure my running has improved as a result. What I think is desperately missing, however, is an educated discussion on the ethics behind some of these technologies.
The New York Times Magazine's “Ethicist”—a popular weekly column in my household but also one whose pomp can irk me—recently weighed in on this topic. The piece looked at the development of video-processing algorithms that discern race, height and age in a way to try and predict if a crime might happen in a specific location. The Ethicist said, “It is morally unfair to make assumptions about an individual’s future behavior solely due to his superficial similarity to someone with whom he has no real relationship.”
Even if there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle—or truly predicting the future with any real certainty—I think it’s important that we start asking ourselves of the moral obligations that arise in the privacy field and, in particular, about the tracking and predictive technologies that are starting to surround us.
And if turning your mind to this isn’t how you wanted to start your weekend, by all means, read on for some more grounded stories about things you need to know. A particularly popular article this week is the one about a typical CPO’s job description. A job, I think, that is only becoming more interesting and more challenging as it evolves.
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