Pessimism is the new Optimism

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Pessimism is the new Optimism
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Keeping your perspective in the surveillance state.
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happened and hi everyone the the organizers here were a bit surprised when I said I wouldn't be needing any computer equipment and had no slides in no audio anything techie for my talk so I think also the technicians a very happy to have a break it may be going a bit against the grain of the thought of events but I'm reversing to good old
spoken words so i'm as was announced it is not in the program but I'm the title of this talk is pessimism is the new optimism the the it is very human and in some sense the prerequisite of survival to try and find the best in everything and sometimes to avoid altogether and seeing what is bad a healthy relationship relies on being able to overlook the harmless floors of the other but when 1 person continually avoids confronting serious try ingressions by the other a relationship becomes unhealthy the husband who pretends not to know about his wife's affairs the parents who were admitted to that child's drug abuse the employee who reported bullying boss the abused woman who only her tormentor In all such situations people are able to come up with compelling justifications for their behavior you don't understand the argument may go she can be so nice all he wouldn't cope without me all the things are starting
to get better now in psychology this pattern of deviant judgment in particular situations is called cognitive bias we are all subject to it to a greater or lesser extent in right now many of us are guilty of such bias in 1 particular relationship this relationship again at least for the older ones amongst as would be other party as a bulky stationary kept counterpart was mostly confined to 1 room despite the restriction and counters could be exciting and you generally have fun together this
companion you its place and stayed there it's long tail winding down to the nearest available socket their relationship was pretty much all on your terms the as time went on the friend got cooler and more mobile showing up an ever smaller and 6 year time eventually could fit in your bag now it can snuggle in your pocket it insinuated itself into more and more of your personal life Soon it's aiming to get right under your skin it may already have become your most intimate companion it probably goes everywhere with you during the day and then lies by your bed at nite monetary or
sleep cycle if you wish and ready to sound a wake up call when you desire you love looking at all these stroke its body coaxing and this delights to its screen this amazing friend the internet gave an image of you and also a reflection of the world you thought this companion was true that he could tell it anything and never be betrayed you thought that he was still in control of the relationship then Edward Snowden revealed that your cozy affair is
more of a manager TWA it states and corporations are part of the intimate circle collecting analyzing and storing data about everything you do for your friend the news is shocking your upset even outraged this can't go on you think something has to change but at the same time the French keeps hiring so enticing me to give you message alerts it offers you upgrades and freebies and find the new apps is the friend all your other friends used to reach you if you
stop taking it every way you'll probably lose away a lot more and miss out on all kinds of very important stuff you can't imagine not having its warmth against your thigh you don't know what you do in those spare minutes without it's ready distractions so you ignore its infidelities and try not to think about its power to hurt you it'll be fine you tell yourself things are bound to improve the signs are clear and your suffering from digital cognitive bias I suffer
from a to that's another very human tendency to spot the flaws in others and offer expert advice but persisting possibly obliviously in similar behaviors yourself people who do this on a daily basis are called psychologists and you guessed it fiction writers a since notice the toes disclosures of talk to many people who said I don't want to change my behavior on principle the people feel they have a right to expose whatever they like to a selective circle and it is the obligation of the state to protect them with laws that make it impossible for anyone outside of the chosen circle to exploit their information at 1st this seemed to me like a contradiction in terms of how can we demand respect for privacy while at the same time going to ever new levels of personal exposure but then I thought perhaps there isn't a contradiction that each of these things leads to an necessitates the other if you're putting
post-coital selfies ironically or not on Instagram as well was the trend last month under hashtag after 6 then presumably you're going to be really concerned about privacy laws and who has access to information on the other hand I can't help thinking that the people who put such intimate material into the public realm have no true concept of what is or should be private and don't really care about the issue perhaps they've already entered some Orwellian realm of doublespeak where exposure means privacy as if the more you reveal the more you prove yourself to be personal and personable and thus perversely publicly qualify as a fully-fledged private being a couple of years ago it
seemed as paradigm might have become mainstream when following the discovery that to mass murderers Norwegian underspread at an American James Holmes used almost no social media the mainstream media hurried suggest that people who weren't on Facebook could be considered suspicious by potential employers and others as if the 1st question to establish rapport in any situation must naturally be are you on Facebook because of course the Internet is not a place of people exaggerate lie or have false identities the anyone uses digital devices regularly would have left layers of personal imprints on the quicksand of the net there no tides shift along the shore washing away traces of yesterday everything you've done online stays online because
the Internet and its services never forget most people i di bulging seeming seemingly superficial things through social media or engaging in activities like shopping banking and researching which don't seem especially implicating enough themselves however all this information camp cumulatively reveal a lot about our different selves past present and future professional social sexual would data storage capacities continually growing and getting ever cheaper I digital shadows will persist holding on to detail the by every keystroke and mouse click yet forgetting letting go leaving things behind these unnecessary passages of individual development
we've evolves biologically to have a partial sense of the past because that is for all its risks the most effective way for us to exist in the digital world everything persists and even if you or I can't access it someone can increasingly there will be discrepancies between the self in virtual and real space distinctions the computer contract could register and no algorithm can work out mass surveillance is so dangerous because our data trail leaders at the mercy of people who do not know us and do not really care about us except as a means to an abstract and like security or marketing it's easy to disregard what's happening because we don't need to the feel its negative effects all we believe ourselves to be immune to it yet with advertising by corporations for example if things that constantly tailored to sway us in a certain direction as they are now we may time that way almost in spite of ourselves we don't become automaton but we inevitably react to such manipulation perhaps even just subconsciously as for the data collection by governments or the evidence shows that such indiscriminate harvesting does not make us safer and all common sense shows that
infringes on our rights and undermines our democracies to those who say I have nothing to hide the only answer is we all have something to hide depending on who's looking and what they want to do with the information they give me 6 lines written by the most honest man and I will find something that hand him Cardinal Richelieu said in the 16th century every era has its reaches this is why so essential to have a more stringent international legal framework on how and by whom are data can be used of course the law cannot make people value their own privacy but it can force others to respect that privacy which is the critical thing so until that framework is in place tho what can we do
yeah the in totalitarian states citizens used to have 3 choices in a migration resistance or exile the inward migration was a retreat into the self as an attempt to live without challenging the status quo in the hope that 1 would remain unnoticed and be left alone resistance involves challenging the prevailing taking risks even with one's life and exile of course was emigration leaving for somewhere more free today exile is no longer an option the new Internet connection 0 order means that we can be followed or observed everywhere we go even being offline can no longer protect us that's not to say that of a retreat from technology would have no effect on the contrary it could empower us in surprising ways not least are reminding us of the freedom and being digitally disconnected but
a complete retreat from technology even if it were possible would be irresponsible because freedom is not preserved despite evading a threat to freedom needs guardians who remain ever vigilant of possible infractions you can't probably properly resist a system by opting out of it no can you resist by finding your own personal normality within the existing environment resistance is an active state that involves staying at all it's with what is there was seeking an alternative vision of the future resistance
requires thinking the the basis of optimism suggested Oscar Wilde the characteristic contrariness sheer terror the this session might hold a clue to my most of us want to continue pretty much as usual after Snowden's revelations we understand the sheer scale of the assault on our privacy and therefore on our rights but this is so overwhelming that is easier to stop thinking about it proceed as usual and hope for the best but to accept constant observation even if you don't consciously feed it as a restriction or imposition is to allow a gradual curtailment of freedom and to be complicit and the diminution of democracy the pony sociologist Zygmunt Bauman claims that we've lost the gods the stamina and above all the will to persist in defending these rights these
irrepressible building blocks of individual autonomy I refuse to believe that I sensed people would act if they knew how but most of us are unsure about what would really make a difference we have to remember that even when we can't take practical steps to remedy a problem we can reclaim some measure of control by how we choose to think about it so instead of brushing aside the mass surveillance warnings we must keep pondering them forcing ourselves to consider that the status quo may not improve much and certainly not quickly in short
we must allow ourselves to be pessimistic that doesn't mean becoming doomsters and developing a tendency to stress the negative or take the gloomiest possible view as 1 of the kind of definitions of pessimism expresses the pessimism is also a philosophical position and this set in this sense it doesn't to stem from a negative mind-set but is rather informed by an outlook that seeks to face up to the distasteful realities of the world and to eliminate the rational hopes and expectations personally I like a British writer will selves the comic view of pessimism as the willingness to
accept that things may be for the word in a less than perfect world the my intonation is adapted slightly replacing the word except with acknowledge so that pessimism is the willingness to acknowledge that things may be for the worst in a less than perfect world acceptance a useful attitude in many situations is obviously not desirable in the face of an evil like mass surveillance where
is the acknowledgment involves admitting into our minds other possibilities even dark and disturbing ones to have reflected on the worst is in some sense even if just rudimentarily to be more ready for it the skillful warrior does not rely on the enemy is not coming but on his own preparedness since 2 wrote in the out of form it may seem grandiose to speak of mass surveillance and such militaristic terms but the digital realm is a kind of battleground right now with states and corporations on a ruthless advanced to get hold of our data the
British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters gchq certainly already sees it that way declaring on their website that online is the new front line we citizens of the targets being indiscriminately bombarded with surveillance state agencies a rat in the name of security while corporations do under the benign guys of customer service at the time this question of history lessons the world over what would you have done is no longer just an abstract question the tyranny is here a did take ship of states and corporations it a democratic privileges we cherish today 1 hard 1 millions fought and died to overthrow totalitarianism now it's threatens again in a very different the potentially equally serious form
thankfully we do not yet need arms with a spicy but we do need courage courage to think to face the heart of the fact of reality freedom justice fairness these are not destination the to at which we arrive through somebody else's efforts only to lie back and take a holiday from thinking each generation has to engage with these concepts and you redefine them as necessary human rights almost always accompanied by the word responsibilities because what we enjoy we also have a duty to protect the during the 2nd world war the British writer Virginia Woolf often felt useless wishing she could contribute more to the war effort and conscious that writing was somehow irrelevant in the circumstances yet she went on writing using it to think about and understand what was happening and to analyze her role within that thinking is my fighting she came to realize and that's what we need to recognize 2 thinking must become are fighting for it is the only thing that can offer us immunity from the seductions and manipulations of tyranny the internet
with its manifold conveniences and attractions its intersection with almost every facet of our lives could become the most despotic tool in human history I know I'm focusing on the negative and I have no wish to deny the Internet capacity to empower in rich and liberates but i'm daring to take the bleak online because we are all already converts to the broad church of the web believers in the promise of digital salvation indeed many of us especially at such an event of fanatics insistence still that the good outweighs the bad cognitive bias gone a little mad at you might say but wherever we are on the spectrum of faith in the future of the net optimist or pessimist there is a single secular invocation for our digital congregation let us
think ever since last autumn averaging an online search now and then tracking changes in Internet use and Snowden's it didn't turn out much in the way of broad usage statistics as I wanted there was interesting to see that within a few months of the revelations being published usage of the DUC don't go and start page had increased significantly then a few weeks ago I came across a couple of new surveys 1 in the US conducted by Harris International on behalf of a security company called E-set found that 47 % of Americans think more carefully about where they go and what they say and what they do online these people and even change their behavior and a conducting fewer financial transactions online including reducing their online shopping and banking meanwhile 24 % of the total respondents said they were less inclined to communicate by e-mail the sort of choices simple gestures of withholding can be incredibly effective because they harness our power as consumers by saying no companies feel and
notice this if more of us was saying no more of the time corporations would be forced to reconsider what they do with our data a little bit more mindfulness as we go about our digital activities would be enough to send a strong message to those watching us across the web cultivating my own inventors has helped will be on guard against subtle things of which I was previously oblivious I is the psychological pressure to buy the existed everywhere online airlines with that alerts only 2 seats left the price comparison websites that inform you that there are 9 people viewing this hotel last looked 3 hours ago 1 leading online bookshop has a new tool called watch people shop you run your mouse over a map of the world and can see that someone just bought Genesis 3 in South Korea 28 seconds ago or someone in Australia bought the marriage book 7 seconds ago what is this if not incontrovertible evidence that we are continually being monitored in real time by companies the pressure doesn't even
stop after you've bought something your item has been dispatched you are kindly informed and often given a specific time slot in which it will be delivered this might be convenient but it is also restricting I find myself wondering if i will be home In the past I would have tried to be home like my life should be organized around the delivery of my purchases rather than the other way around sure you can change the delivery time you can even track your item all the way along its route but what happened to ordinary to ordering something and forgetting about it and it arrived at your doorstep at the post office at your neighbors Of
course once it's bad the sender wants a review and inevitably has further recommendations the barrage of helpful information from companies is actually an excuse for constant intrusion on a personal space somehow go it's a little easier to resist now that I see it for what it is yeah the rallying cry of the Enlightenment was a period holiday dead to think digital enlightenment is long overdue until recently most of us carelessly embraced every technological advance we fell for every online 3 never considering that if the
product is free you are the product as Nicholas Fargo head of the Belgian Centre for Data Protection astutely pointed out we have already consented to use of Iris's as identifiers we also allow our hearts to be colonized by corporations everyone's heartbeats rhythm or ECG is unique a company called 90 already offers to put your heart into it 8 the new digital universe by making that singular rhythm the all too much passwords to all your devices the which brings us back to where we started with matters of the heart why do we stay in bad relationships because we don't want to be alone is in this why reluctant to put some distance however short however temporary between us and our friends the internet were afraid of being left behind of missing out of being lonely even for a 2nd but if we
don't establish boundaries now this digital liaison is going to turn into a tortuous affair that leaves us more exposed and vulnerable until eventually too late we face the truth chillingly summed up by the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood that better live entirely in public is a form of solitary confinement that's the kind of loneliness we should dread the never
fight except in a crisis since you advised in the out of form the crisis is here the weapons are our minds thoughts must lead the fight expecting the worst but living in hope don't tell me that's too pessimistic not when the attitude can keep company with the position of Martin Luther King who declared they must accept finite disappointment but we must never lose infinite hope he also believed that the time is always right to do the right thing and I think you know what I'm going to say the time is always right to do the right thinking right on modern pylons hashtag fight for freedom be
the end of each such that things you pre on other any questions yeah the hi thank you very much for this very nice and enlightening and motivating um talk that unity was really great thank you for that 1st of all 1 question for you so do you have a hint for us where to start because I really have to say for me personally I'm 1 of those people as well I'm I'm really living with my mobile phone kind of get in a relationship as you have described it and I really love it honestly not the phone itself unit and the services that come along with it however and I see the flames and specifically immune here now for 2 days of listening to more of those speeches and I'm more willing now to change something but I don't know where to start do you have an idea I think starting with little things I mean that's what I did I'm my you start page
now as um a search and engine rather than Google and and like I said I think you to start to notice more things as you go about your daily life using these gadgets and you say no to more things I mean I whenever I got you know of any more to do maybe do a survey because I might get a 150 pound Boucher I would almost always do it it it was a company that I lied because I was at a bride into thinking 0 I might get something free and I never do them anymore because I think taking everything from me anyway and then I'm stupid enough to fill in the survey as well no thank you so I think it's just little things and that as you do those your awareness expands and then maybe you do more but I think this is such a huge part of our lives and our world it's really hard to imagine you know doing something drastic and so I just believe in small steps and you know what they say for smokers don't give up giving up so don't give up trying to just do the little things and I I really believe that that starts to expand our consciousness and to to make to stopping shifting and talk about it other people collaboratively that's another way as well to you know keep the salient and to keep people alert at the thank you the plan of the
question of because it links up about yesterday Mr. Moore's offered in moles of the human a very convincing point from the he said that the the kind of control your talking about civilians and of the way we are losing data to to others but this is not only driven by all relationship to the internet and what it provides but he said is also driven by of the basic political and social surroundings around into the so I wonder what you see the frontline in this fight is only the relationship to the devices and services were always at a lot of social and political issue yeah that's a very good point and um I think
it's definitely part of a wider social and and political environments and I mean the Internet doesn't exist in a vacuum and and there certainly what for me what it represents more strongly is a sort of consumer and aspect of our culture which permeates every level online and offline and and so however I mean think so many things need to change and the reason I call the internet the front is because the way it can be used against us it seems to me right now the most threatening the way we can be watched the way we can be manipulated it just seems to me to be and a sort of pointer which are agency is most threatened and in our understandings of what is to be an autonomous individual the self as a sovereign being that can't be watched you know our most private and intimate spaces now of being sort the subject to an observation and that's why I think it's the most dangerous because if we can't completely be ourselves um of we can't be free citizens in our society is really threatened from the very core I mean I was think of what Roosevelt said that we are are the great arsenal of democracy is the people that make kids and am I think the instrument is is a tool that could really be used to somehow homeless and to restrict us if we're not careful and that's why I think it's fair to say the front line ch
anymore questions so yeah so I will say thank you Preah Faisal from before being here and enjoy the thank you with the preservation yeah thank