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Eclectic Thought Samples From Larry Burns

Are Evil Villains Super-Powered By Big Data?

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Regarding the NSA, I am very disheartened to learn that there was no transparency, and that no one beyond Congress and the ESPIC knew about it, but by the same token there has always been a shadow intelligence-gathering apparatus.  J. Edgar Hoover’s massive and secret files were likely typewritten (using carbon paper!) but he still scared a lot of people.

People, by their very nature, often do have public lives and private lives.   Many hope to keep these separate as what one does, is, and even perhaps believes in the ‘privacy of their own home’ would struggle to withstand the onslaught of public scrutiny.

So, our technology prowess has once again outpaced the human brain’s ability to comprehend it.  Do you realize that the first version of the iPhone was only introduced in June of 2007, just over six years ago?  Consider how much has changed since then?   Any surprise It’s a lot easier to be afraid now.

In many ways, the media is a fear engine that profits from keeping us nervous and concerned. Blood has always sold newspapers – “if it bleeds, it leads” was not a complete stereotypical fiction and now today in a far more hyper-competitive world with attention shattered across myriad outlets the desire to attract attention rises on pace with what one can be shown to be afraid of.

We’ve grown up in a culture where comic books, Hollywood and ever more mainstream entertainment created the myth of the supervillain. If feels like many blockbusters must have that truly evil character who with  ones devious henchmen are hell bent on world domination.

Now it is far too easy for us to make the transition in our heads that there are people out there who can manipulate our data and therefore cause us great harm.    Are their bad actors with access to data networks to cause harm – absolutely they exist, as individuals, corporate entities and even governments but as it has always been so.  Data is just data and  it has always been out there for potential use AND misuse.   Do I think the potential for harm has increased with the speed of actions possible, well yes I do but still I choose to not draw into some kind of shell and cease participation in the life of the 21st century.

The world is without doubt nor question changing quickly – equally certain, to me,  is that we, as humans, do not yet fully comprehend what we have done to ourselves with our full on  “technology is the solution” approach.

However,  I still would counsel us all to not let the fear of “Evil SuperVillains” (mostly imaginary or ones that may actually emerge) keep you locked in the basement with no digital devices in sight.


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