Eyewitness: Death of…privacy

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Recently, there’s been a whole lotta indignation and foot stamping about social media and journalism on the actions of the Government and vice versa. But could somebody please spare a thought about what that same social media – and more to the point the technology behind it – is doing to us poor working-class slobs?? As a card-carrying member of that fraternity, your Eyewitness is frankly terrified – and he’s not exaggerating. ‘Cause, frankly, Dear Reader, nobody seems to give a damn!

In the beginning (less than a decade ago), it all started quite innocuously. Your Eyewitness might be talking to his (much) better half about say, that pair of shoes he wanted to buy for her birthday. And within minutes, he started to see ads or some sorta info about shoes on his (too) smartphone. At first, he thought it was a coincidence…but after 100 times?? Dullard he might be, but even he realised something strange was afoot in the kingdom of communications.

Digging into it, he realised his phone’s been eavesdropping 24-7, even when he wasn’t using it. Like Big Brother, it was now monitoring him continuously in real time – all the time!! Even though WhatsApp assured him it was “encrypted at both ends”, they forgot to tell him that the company’s owners (Facebook) was listening in and using the data for its own purposes! Which was to make money…but who knows what the buyer of the info did with it?? What this means is all our emails are effectively “hacked”, our financial information accessed, every transaction visible, money tracked, all in real time.

Now it’s not only the big tech ones doing it! How about those magazines or newspapers you wanna read and they ask you very nicely that you’ll also be downloading some (sweet!) “cookies” – to help them to serve you better?? Do you know what data they’re collecting and who they pass it on to – for a fee? Now what makes this data collecting even more insidious is what’s behind it. Do you think it’s some smart-alec hacker getting his jollies off by peeping into your affairs??

No siree Bob!! All this mind-boggling data coming from BILLIONS of users are screened and mined by all sorts of hyper smart devices run on Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms – now evolved (and self-evolving) to analyse the data waaaay better that any human can. For sure no human brain can process so much data!! So, Dear Reader, these programmes now know you better than you know yourself? While we may rationalise our behaviour that AI programme can cut through all of that much in a microsecond!!
1984 is long gone. Look out for 2022!!

…good manners

Even though we’re all wrapped up in social media surely, Dear Reader, you’ve noticed the disappearance of good manners. Gone are the days when, like your Eyewitness was taught, “manners maketh man”. It’s now “BAD manners maketh man – and woman”!! Folks now go out of their way to be rude. Back in medieval times when life was grimy, brutish and short, manners were cultivated in the courts of the rulers – king or queen.

So is our reversion to churlish behaviour due to our leaders behaving worse than louts in rum shops – when they’re supposed to be discussing our nation’s business? While it was expected that there’d be a certain level of cut and thrust in the repartee during parliamentary sittings, the rule was “A gentleman is never rude unintentionally.” That is, there was always some thought guiding the verbal jousting so that it would be seen as “wit” and not “gutter ignorance”!!

Like Churchill accused of being a drunk, replying, “Madam, tomorrow I’ll be sober, but you’ll still be ugly!”

…political horse-trading

This utopian insistence by the Opposition that “everybody must be at the table” through racial horse-trading is now unnecessary: either party can win the elections.
Unlike Granger, they should simply reach across the divide.