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David Boulton to Phil Ryan and John Vasconcellos et al re Privacy & Ethics  - Ethics 8

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From: David Boulton 
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2002 12:43 PM


You asked me to keep them coming...

It's not the Hoovers that scares me, it's how much more dangerous corporations can become. One of our most fundamental international business ethics assumes that businesses have the right to pursue their economic interests even to the extent of directing the thoughts and emotions of people with the clear intent of predatorily manipulating their economic behavior. We take this for granted. It's the "American Way" and yet it, more than terrorism, strangles our nation - it is an invisible crime that goes far beyond the scope of the FBI. It's a cancer on our national intelligence - our national learning - our ultimate national advantage.

We need more ways of being more extensively intelligent together. We need a situationally relevant, intelligence support system. We need to be able to detect threats as they move through our 'gates' and do so without unduly stuttering the flow of legal citizen behavior. One of my work threads involves distributed relationship architecture, I understand some of the implications of the underlying processing capabilities of such systems, and, I do think that they should be developed (and evolve) to respond to the needs of national intelligence. And saying all that, it's the national intelligence of our people that concerns me most.

We have seen what Madison Ave. can do with tobacco company ethics, Lucasfilm's technology concepts, Spielberg’s attention direction, and with the right 'star attractions'.  We have a semi-hypnotized society - hypnotized into accepting manipulation as normal, hypnotized into a lack of respect for their own learning. What happens when these incredibly powerful interests, who place the right to make money above the injustice of manipulating people's lives, have access to the kind of intelligence powers these systems could provide? 

The seedling concepts are being prototyped on the web today. 

From what I have skim-gleaned of Callixa's underlying technology philosophy, I respect and appreciate them as a company and would like to get to know them better.  We need a system such as theirs, and in the due course of more analysis, very possibly theirs in particular.

At the same time, there is a substantial risk to America, in my view, of having the economics in this situation grandfather a lobby that leads to allowing such systems to be used for ever more purely economic reasons. 

One question for me is will the companies that get involved in this 'market' behave respectfully or manipulatively?  This is too dangerous a place for manipulations emanating from narrow economic interests.  We need a much more extended dialogue here. However, it is perfectly legitimate for companies who have relevant products to help inspire and resource such a social dialogue to help educate our people into the many contingencies involved. I trust, as in John's 'politics of trust',  that that is your intent.

I appreciate the opportunity for dialogue that your participation and thought quality has made possible and I welcome more.

Sincerely - David

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