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Protecting our privacy will become more and more difficult in the future

The Center for Technological Forecasting at Tel Aviv University presents future technologies, such as mind-reading programming, and nanometer equipment for genetic analysis without the knowledge of the person, the use of which may result in a violation of privacy

A biometric identification facility at the entrance to one of the Disney parks in Florida. From Wikipedia
A biometric identification facility at the entrance to one of the Disney parks in Florida. From Wikipedia
The Center for Technological Forecasting at Tel Aviv University presents future technologies the use of which may result in a violation of privacy following the legal dispute regarding the rights of commenters on the networks and yesterday's decision by the Vice President of the District Court in Nazareth who stated that despite "the shortcomings of online anonymity, it should be seen as a derivative of freedom of expression and the right to privacy" .

The Center for Technological Forecasting at Tel Aviv University, which is holding a conference of experts from a number of universities and research institutes in Europe today, for the launch of a European Union study aimed at examining the impact of future technologies whose use may lead to a violation of privacy, will host a number of experts on the subject.
The director of the center, Dr. Yair Sharan, lists some of the scenarios that will be discussed at the conference: decoding thoughts using a computer, genetic analysis without the person knowing about it, and other technologies that threaten our privacy.

As we recently saw in the popular opposition that arose in Israel in the face of the biometric database law, privacy is a sensitive issue. According to Dr. Yair Sharan, director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Technological Analysis and Forecasting near Tel Aviv University (the Center for Forecasting), the issue will become even more sensitive with the maturity of various technologies that may harm privacy. One of the hypotheses of the research is that the future generation, who are currently attending school and growing into the future technological world, will perceive privacy in a different way and may be less sensitive to its violation.

The Forecasting Center heads a new project within the European Union's Seventh Framework Program for R&D. The research project
(Privacy Appraising Challenges to Technologies and Ethics) - PRACTIS is part of a package of projects within the European R&D program dealing with issues of science and society. The PRACTIS project is designed to deal with questions concerning the impact of new technologies on privacy. Respecting human dignity and sovereignty, assimilating social order and solidarity and developing and using the benefits of technologies while preventing possible negative effects. Evaluating the technologies from an interdisciplinary perspective and creating a dialogue between science and society are among the goals of the research.

On January 26, representatives from all the partner institutions in the project will attend a special seminar, including, in addition to researchers from the center and the university (the Faculty of Law and the Netizen Institute for Internet Research), also representatives from the Technical University of Berlin, the University of Turku in Finland, the Polish Academy of Sciences, Namur University in Belgium and the Interdisciplinary Center for Comparative Research in life sciences in Austria. The Prediction Center is already leading another project dealing with future terrorist threats and the assessments required to prevent them.

The purpose of PRACTIS is to formulate ways and recommendations on how to prepare for the era of future technologies, the use of which may constitute a violation of privacy. The project will deal with the impact of future technological developments on the perception of privacy in Europe and the required response to changes that will occur in the ethical and legal aspect as well as changes in the field of R&D and society, says Dr. Sharan.

The motivation of the Europeans to initiate such a project was the understanding that, on the one hand, the future technological world itself may confer capabilities that harm privacy, and on the other hand, that needs are developing, especially in the field of security, leading to the need to intervene or compromise people's privacy if one wants to achieve increased security. "The task will be to find the right balance between security and privacy."

"In practice, we constantly see a spillover from maintaining privacy to the direction of violating privacy." says Dr. Sharan. "In England, for example, there was a long peaceful struggle with strong public opposition to the installation of security cameras on every street corner. Today, after the cameras were installed, the public has become accustomed to their presence, trusting that the public order enforcement systems will not misuse the information collected on the citizens, but will only use it to prevent or solve crime cases."

Many technologies in the security field await, for example, to see and listen beyond walls, to hide microphones and nanometer tracking equipment almost everywhere, to collect genetic information on people without their knowledge, and more.

"This could lead to a wild scenario - a world without secrets, a term coined by Prof. Niv Ahitov (another research partner) in a book he wrote about the future of information. A wild scenario is a scenario that is possible with a low probability but has a very large social significance and impact. This is a disturbing scenario and one must prepare for it.

In the research and seminar, various technological scenarios will be examined that reflect future technological developments that may have an impact on the future of privacy. A scenario in which there will be total biometric control of the population by the authorities is a scenario with a high chance of realization and a great impact on the perception of privacy. On the other hand, a scenario in which it would be possible to decode thoughts seems to have a low chance of being realized today, but it also has a heavy impact on privacy and some say the end of the era of privacy. The research itself will examine developments in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technologies, brain research and cognition while attempting to examine their significance for the perception of privacy in future generations.

Regarding the biometric database that was recently passed into law, he says that this is a compromise that will eventually lead to the establishment of the database in its full scope. The risk of its being hacked and the misuse of the information it will accumulate is not low and will increase over time as the technological capacity develops. Accordingly, there will be an ever-increasing need to protect the database and monitor it closely, in order to prevent leakage of information to unauthorized parties.

A quote inspired by Winston Churchill that was used by Netanyahu at the UN - "Don't fall asleep when you see developing technologies so you won't be surprised".

9 תגובות

  1. It's not about having anything to hide or I'm not ashamed of myself.

    It's simple that people will be able to use all this knowledge to your detriment and you don't really understand it..
    Go take a tour of the Knesset and you will see that there is no shortage of people who would be happy to make money on you and take care of their interests at your expense and ours.

    I have a million bad scenarios that can go through my head because of such a loss of privacy and that's without even thinking "criminal" thoughts, in the end we are all human beings who make mistakes, who are dragged along, with lusts and passions, with painful points and weaknesses that we would not want anyone to know and maybe even want to take advantage of . This means that they will disqualify and judge people in the blink of an eye, that we will lose trust in each other and that we will also lose a lot of hope for change in ourselves and in the human race in general.

    Instead of solving the problems that lead to terrorism, the state only finds ways to increase its control over the citizens and give them the illusion of security. Without a shadow of a doubt, I am sure that even if a machine were to check the terrorist's head for hostile thoughts, we would still experience terrorism and in the end the most terrifying and dangerous terrorism of all, the terrorism of the state that will already be in the possession of everything.

  2. There is a fundamental fundamental problem with complete disclosure and loss of privacy.
    Let's say a democratic country comes to power - it could be the USA, Britain, or even Israel - let's say a fascist party comes to power there. Don't say "it can't happen", things have happened before. Think of the things the government could do using the technologies described here, from a biometric database to mind reading, to track down and eliminate anyone who opposes them.

    But why do you have to make an effort? George Orwell has already thought of that for you. Has anyone here read 1984 yet? This is the time, it is available in any public library, including the one closest to your place of residence, and it can probably also be downloaded online.

  3. "I mean to say that 99.99% of the population has nothing to hide and nothing to hide deep inside"

    Nonsense in the juice.

    Hilik, I think you are simply delusional and I really mean it, I can think of a thousand and one personal things that the average person would not want to reveal to others, private thoughts, anger, fights that he may have had with his wife, various health problems, psychological problems that he may be suffering of which he was not interested in sharing with others, things that happened to him as a child, embarrassing thoughts that may have crossed his mind in all kinds of situations and he would like to keep them to himself, ideas and patents that he may be working on and would like to keep them in his head and not reveal them, and a thousand and one other examples.

    So you want to be like a robot? Without an iota of privacy? Does this really seem normal to you? For your health, I wish you to be poked deep deep deep inside your brain, if in your eyes the word "privacy" has no meaning, then probably you and people like you really deserve it, you will be like a naked doll in a shop window, zero privacy, like an object.

    Apparently "Big Brother" style programs have messed people's brains.

    See you in the future.

  4. To someone who responded to someone who responded to Eyal….

    Maybe it will disappoint you, but I'm also not afraid that at any given moment a helmet will be put on my head and the person who is supposed to approve my flight into space will write in the state computer that I'm not a terrorist, and if on the way he finds out that I like whipped cream cakes (and he won't understand it himself because I'm fat - because it won't be possible to activate the human brain because it will degenerate from disuse...) and also that I don't like meat that much, it's not that bad either, even if this information is automatically transmitted to the spaceship cafeteria to adjust my meals (of course after filtering medical!…)
    I mean to say that 99.99% of the population has nothing to hide and nothing to hide in the depths of their guts, and as long as they don't put me under arrest for a joke that goes through my mind when I stand in front of the band clerk who refuses to increase my credit I should get a "robbery" note! Then I will surely go out with my lust in hand, so the situation is reasonable and tolerable.

    hoping for understanding,
    A seeker of progress and a technology enthusiast.

  5. To the one who responded to Eyal, I think it's really scary and even quite bizarre that there are people in society with opinions like yours, in the example that Eyal presented, it's about probing inside your mind, do you understand? Prying through your most hidden and personal thoughts and memories, so easily are you really willing to accept such a situation? After all, today it is already possible to see how databases that are much less personal such as residential addresses, telephone numbers, marital status and personal medical reports are leaked to the Internet almost every week and anyone can poke around in them to their heart's content. Temporary? Who guarantees you that the database that contains this information will not be hacked? That the information will not leak and be distributed to anyone who raises the price? Does it really make sense to you that people would be so exposed without an iota of privacy, all in the name of "public safety"? Are you really ready to live like a robot that anyone can poke around and get into their guts? What Eyal described is a meticulous description of thought police as shown in science fiction movies, a person will not have an iota of privacy not even about their thoughts. It's really hard for me to understand how people are willing to accept such a delusional state of zero privacy and gross intrusion into your brain and into your thoughts.

    One can only hope that most people do not think like you.

  6. Yes, I will accept such a situation. Why?
    Because the government, the airport management or any other entity that is supposed to collect this information will not have people on the streets using megaphones and telling my secrets out loud.
    Why do you care about privacy? You reveal many details about your life on social networks anyway, and anyway the maximum number of people who will reveal your secrets and your thoughts will be 10 people who come across a lot of this kind of information every hour in their work. These people won't remember these bits of information and it's likely that if you meet them in the future you won't know it's them.

  7. Think about the following scenario, you arrive at an airport (or a spaceport in the distant future) to board the space shuttle or your plane to start your vacation, then as part of the security arrangements at your place you are asked to place a helmet full of sensors on your head for about half a minute, which will thoroughly scan your brain , all your thoughts, all the information you keep in your head, your most hidden secrets, and this in order to make sure that you do not have any criminal or terrorist intentions before you board the plane, in the name of public safety.

    What do you think, will you accept such a situation?

    (And I'm sure that from a technological point of view it will definitely be possible in one way or another in the coming decades)

  8. Progress is a double-edged sword, it is a known and accepted thing and there is nothing to be done against it, chance and risk always go together.

  9. I am always amazed by the mistake made by the opponents of the reservoir. They led the fight claiming that the database could be hacked in the future by unauthorized parties and thus cause the information to spill over to anyone.
    And so Meir Shitrit managed to repel this claim by adding various defenses and claiming that the database would be safe.
    The real danger is not from criminal elements but from the government itself (R.E. George Erville).
    Let's take a simple example. The police would have enormous power and they would be able to clearly know who was at a particular crime scene. Now, our excellent police officers, instead of working hard and investigating and trying to understand what happened, will simply take all the samples from the crime scene, cross-reference the data, and find out who was at that place. If Hela does not have a good enough reason or excuse to explain what he did in that place (and it is possible that his actions were completely kosher even though he is not interested in reporting them to the police for his reasons), the investigators will accuse him and he will have to prove his innocence, while the loyal investigators sit on their feet without making any effort at all.
    Just look at how maliciously the investigators these days make an admission of guilt. No rational being questioned will admit that he is guilty except for the manipulations of lazy cops.
    And this is just one example.

    On the other hand. I thought, maybe George Erville was wrong. His claim was that there would be a big brother who would supervise all the citizens.
    The Internet and other modern technologies have completely changed the situation. Today, instead of the supervision being in the hands of one factor called Big Brother, the supervision is distributed to the entire population and thus basically everyone has control over everyone. It is possible that in the future privacy will be synonymous with primitivism indicating the ability for fraudulent acts that simply will not be able to exist in the future at all.
    time will tell.

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