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"Reality Mining" Resets the Privacy Debate 209

An anonymous reader sends us to the NYTimes for a sobering look at the frontiers of "collective intelligence," also called in the article "reality mining." These techniques go several steps beyond the pedestrian version of "data mining" with which the Pentagon and/or DHS have been flirting. The article profiles projects at MIT, UCLA, Google, and elsewhere in networked sensor research and other forms of collective intelligence. "About 100 students at MIT agreed to completely give away their privacy to get a free smartphone. 'Now, when he dials another student, researchers know. When he sends an e-mail or text message, they also know. When he listens to music, they know the song. Every moment he has his Windows Mobile smartphone with him, they know where he is, and who's nearby.' ... Indeed, some collective-intelligence researchers argue that strong concerns about privacy rights are a relatively recent phenomenon in human history. ... 'For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew,' Dr. Malone said. 'In some sense we're becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.'"

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