“What Searchable Speech Will Do To You”
James Somers | Nautilus
The worry, then, is twofold: If you stopped working out the part of your brain that recalls speech, or names, or that-book-that-Brian-recommended-when- you-spoke-to-him-in-the-diner-that-day-after-the- football-game, maybe those parts of your brain would atrophy. Even more pernicious, as you came to rely more on the Record as a store of events and ideas, you would decide less often to commit them to your own long-term memory. And so your mind would become a less interesting place.
If that’s frightening, consider also what it might be like to live in a society where everything is recorded. There is an episode of the British sci-fi series Black Mirror set in a world where Google Glass–style voice and video recording is ubiquitous. It is a kind of hell. At airport security, the agents ask you to replay your last 24 hours at high speed, so they can clear all the faces you interacted with. At parties, instead of making new conversation, people pore over their “redos” and ask to see their friends.’ In lonely moments, instead of rehearsing memories in the usual way—using the faulty, foggy, nonlinear recall apparatus of their own minds—people replay videos, zooming in on parts they missed the first time around. They seem to live so much in the past as to be trapped by it. The past seems distorted and refracted by the too-perfect, too-public record. In the episode’s most vividly dark moment, we see a couple passionately making love, only to realize that the great sex is happening in “redos” that they’re both watching on their implanted eye-screens; in the real present, they’re humping lovelessly on a cold bed, two drugged-out zombies.
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“How Chicago Got Smart About Sensors”
Susan Crawford | Medium Backchannel
This is the breathtaking, crucial, central element of the Array of Things mindset: the whole thing is aimed at creating a repository of public, free, real-time data in a single place. All the devices are set to communicate only with the Chicago researchers. No outsider can initiate a connection to one of these nodes. When the device connects to the central location in Chicago — at Argonne National Lab — it drops its data there, receives an acknowledgement that the data was received, and then deletes the data from its own local storage place. The City of Chicago, in turn, will take a feed of data from Argonne and pull it into its own open data portal.
Here’s another amazing, all-important element of this Chicago story: personal privacy is front and center for the city and its collaborators at the University of Chicago and around the world, as both a matter of substance and process.
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“How Much of Your Audience is Fake?”
Ben Elgin, Michael Riley, David Kocieniewski, and Joshua Brustein | Bloomberg
Late that year he and a half-dozen or so colleagues gathered in a New York conference room for a presentation on the performance of the online ads. They were stunned. Digital’s return on investment was around 2 to 1, a $2 increase in revenue for every $1 of ad spending, compared with at least 6 to 1 for TV. The most startling finding: Only 20 percent of the campaign’s “ad impressions”—ads that appear on a computer or smartphone screen—were even seen by actual people.
“The room basically stopped,” Amram recalls. The team was concerned about their jobs; someone asked, “Can they do that? Is it legal?” But mostly it was disbelief and outrage. “It was like we’d been throwing our money to the mob,” Amram says. “As an advertiser we were paying for eyeballs and thought that we were buying views. But in the digital world, you’re just paying for the ad to be served, and there’s no guarantee who will see it, or whether a human will see it at all.”
Increasingly, digital ad viewers aren’t human. A study done last year in conjunction with the Association of National Advertisers embedded billions of digital ads with code designed to determine who or what was seeing them. Eleven percent of display ads and almost a quarter of video ads were “viewed” by software, not people.
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