Monday, September 28, 2009

Warning: Ubiquitous Intelligence Ahead - Party Responsibly!

Sony recently unveiled the immensely interesting Party-shot. The dock-like contraption is capable of rotating 360 degrees and tilting 24 degrees. It uses a combination of Sony’s Smile Shutter and Face Detection technology. In other words the camera attached to the Party-shot will seek out profiles and automatically take pictures. But this post is not about the features of this new gadget and the technology behind it. This post is also about what would happen when we forget that our friend’s camera is watching us even when we are 4+ drinks down happily swaying all over the dance floor!
What would happen to post drinking privacy when our host would no longer need to drink less to capture those ‘golden moments’ (read morning after regrets)?
I mean everyone would be equally drunk and Party-shot would be busy doing his job by clicking everyone as clearly as the technology allows. (People who watched three drunk men on a security camera happily walking away with Mike Tyson’s pet tiger in the movie Hang Over, would better relate to what I am pointing at here)

This points at the potential social impact of the ubiquity of intelligent gadgets around us. Ubiquitous intelligence could be great convenience as long as we remember that we are being watched by, more than just the, security camera. We might be in for unpleasant surprises when we don’t.

What we would do, in our offline world meshed with ubiquitous intelligence and in our online world full of our digital fingerprints, is going to increasingly effect our everyday life. I already know more than a handful of people who have been caught with embarrassingly contradicting accounts of personal information. What you are on Facebook, a dating website, a Blog, a business networking website, Twitter and the Office intranet are not as mutually exclusive as many of us are beginning to realize.
It is difficult to imagine that the fear of being recorded while doing the off the record things would slow or stop the adoption of such technologies, but I can clearly foresee the emergence of new services to manage this involuntary ubiquity.
I can foresee online or digital PR evolving to serve not just the big brands or the rich and the famous but just about any individual who wishes to have a cleaner, or should we say a ‘better-managed’, online presence. Similarly, like the mobile phone or GSM network jammers of today (used mainly for security purposes), I can visualize portable devices that act as ‘sensors for gadgets’ that help people scan the environment every time they seek ‘privacy out of home’.

However all this assumes that we are not drunk perpetually. So drink even more responsibly in the future because you’ll never know when you are going to go live!