Stephen Baker

The Numerati
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Esther Dyson on privacy in data age

August 30, 2008Privacy

Here's an insightful article by Esther Dyson in Scientific American
on changing privacy norms in these networked times. She distinguishes between "loss of security" and "loss of privacy." If someone nabs your credit card number, that's security. If they see on Facebook who you're dating, or that you're wearing a size 42 sweater, that's privacy. She predicts (as I do) that businesses will increasingly provide people with tools to calibrate their data, deciding who gets what, and how much. Maybe we'll share intimate medical data, but only when guaranteed that our identity is cloaked. (Researchers at Microsoft and elsewhere are hard at work on those technologies.)

We have all kinds of new judgments to make in a world dominated by Numerati. One of the most important: Which secrets should we keep, and which should we publish to the world? Between those two extremes, we'll each have lots of gradations. Companies that we can trust to guide and protect us as we make our way through this thicket promise to make lots of money.

Lots of other Numerati relevant articles in the Scientific American package.

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