People rightfully say that we have less privacy now than we used
to have. Fear of terrorists after the 911 Attack and movement
of data across large networks have led to a decrease in personal
privacy and feeling of security. Add to this the trade off of
using online systems such as Google tools, Facebook and other
services and this means that others know more about us now than
at any other time in history.
But, in the future this will change to an increase of privacy
and security for all citizens. Our spoken words and thoughts will
be encrypted along with facial recognition images (visual steganography)
and other identifying features. This encryption of words, thoughts
and images will not only apply to our online selves as avatars
but in our real lives as well.
In the future DNA spoofing will come of age, voice patterns masked,
encrypted and spoofed through generic vocal bots and generic speaking
characters. Future privacy will be filled with devices such as
anonymous e-cash transactions using a string of anonymous remailers,
also encrypted with digital signatures.
Identity theft will be thwarted at every turn. But, the compromise
will be self identity. The future of privacy means we will have
so many controls over who gets to know us and who doesn't that
at times we will have trouble proving who we really are.
If you think this is all far-fetched, you should note that
all of the technologies I've mentioned or will mention are either
available now or in development.
Virtual travel via avatars will be a choice as will actual physical
travel. I'm not talking about a Bruce Willis movie or the highest
grossing movie of all time. Remember that science fiction precedes
Future privacy concerns will dictate that virtual reality worlds
will also be encrypted to the nth degree. Only those on the "in
group" will be able to participate and many forums will be
held in a very democratic nature where members will vote who will
go and who gets to stay.
The encryption algorithms in the future, like today, will require
public / private key pairs to function properly. Having multiple
different public keys stored in multiple and different locations
will help to identify a person and keep the bad people at bay.
Pulling these public keys from different resources for short periods
of time and then erasing all traces will give people temporary
identity that will be needed for personal transactions.
Hacking or stealing of smart cards will be an issue for a while.
A workaround will be the memorization of several different password
phrases that will need to work simultaneously on computers, smart
cards, phones and other devices.
But, a new system will need to be found for children, adults
with poor memories and especially seniors. Thought interception
by malicious people will also need to be addressed. In the future,
we will take lessons from paranoid schizophrenics who use a crude
form of mental encryption to avoid the perils of "mind reading"
and "thought broadcasting". The future
computer section of this website explains how people in the
here and now can operate machines with just their thoughts.
Some Things to Think About
In the future, free speech and privacy, like now will be in constant
conflict. Having an avatar with a good reputation online or in
the real world in public will be still valued and trusted, but
that value and trust can still be destroyed by oneself and others.
The rebuilding of reputation today involves a long journey of
incremental steps of trust. But, what if these "trust points"
could be ported over to a new avatar and negative points easily
erased? In cases such as identity theft this would be invaluable.
Issues like this will be addressed by future privacy and security
advocates who wish to empower people, keep identity private and
keep people safe.
In the future, keeping real life and virtual life separate will
be tricky and messy with blurred edges to a certain degree. It
is already happening now (people erasing their criminal backgrounds,
witness protection programs, and others who are on the lamb for
their own protection) and will get even more confusing as change
in this area will escalate.
In the future all of this will be more technologically driven
and we will be more in control of our opaqueness versus
transparency and all shades in-between.
Written by Kevin Lepton