Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Parents voice fears over 3G phones - while I tend to "bleep" over statistics in the news, the terrible drizzle^W onslaught of 3G technology raises some extremely ... "interesting" questions. Up til now, taking a picture has been easy, but making it available to the world instantly hasn't. Here's some paranoia:

  • Videos and photos have been banned from school plays (in one place in Scotland, I think) amidst fears of paedophiles. Would phones be more surreptitous?

  • If you could instantly send a picture and delete it, how can someone prove you even took a photo (on the spot - not by records, sub poenas, etc)?

  • Set up a spam-like random, anonymised domain name approach and mix it with a Mixmaster-style remailer - voila, an anonymous, up-to-date list of pictures about whatever-you-like, whatever the content.

And probably others that I'm too tired to think up.

I've been thinking a little about the whole technological vs social solutions thing again. I submitted ages ago to the point of view that many things don't have a technological solution. But now I think that many, many things actually have a technological cause, and as such are subject to a like solution. How much of society and culture is, and how many social "issues" are built on top of technology?

Our capitalist society is built completely on top of technology. The systems of control we use are all forms of technology, from the gun to sticks to pencil and paper. The buildings we live and work in and the infrastructure that allows us to live how we live is all based on designed components, of which computers and the internet are just a fraction.

Sure, we can say that a problem isn't a technological one but actually a result of who we are, and how we handle the technology, but it seems that we've already got to where we are through the technology available to us, and as such, we could also say that our society is always going to be shaped by the technology that we have available to us.

Of course, on the other hand, you could say that social issues shape the development of technology. Here we enter into the realms of chickens, eggs, and chickens, and eggs, and...

So I think maybe it's foolish to say that something isn't a technological problem, in as much as it's foolish to say that something is entirely a technological problem. If I were to be taoist about it, I'd probably bundle solutions via technology into the yang side of things, and those via "politics" into the yin. It's also necessary to realise that technology is more than just computers - it's every single bit of man-made hardware around us - a hell of a lot, I notice.

I'm not really sure where this is going now, and I think I made the points I had in mind, so I'll shut up.

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