Externalisation – Trust
I want to round up my thoughts on Externalisation. It’s responsible for a great deal of good, it can help us achieve great things, but does leave us very open to abuses of trust.
I want to mull that over for a minute. By externalising things both parties in the externalisation benefit from a degree of trust. What do I mean? Consider the example given two posts ago of the factory dumping it’s waste into a local river. Now, people downstream might not even be aware of this; if they are then they might take the view that the factory owners wouldn’t dump anything harmful in the river. You’d hope you can trust them. Of course, as one looks around the mess that Humanity has made of the environment, you can’t help but wonder about that.
Moving onwards, towards tech, we come to the large companies that seem to dominate the Internet these days. Dominate to the point that some people have wondered if we’re going back to the old days of walled gardens. As I’ve said previously, we externalise a lot of the effort involved in maintaining a social presence to these sites, but in this case the cost isn’t so obvious. To be sure, very few people would pay upfront for a site like Facebook, but by making the cost less obvious that isn’t a problem any more. For the company it makes sense, but for us? We get the service but at the cost of being profiled when we use the site, potentially monitored when we don’t use it, having the things we choose not to say analysed, having shadow profiles built on us and finally being subjected to social experimentation.
A good many companies are moving to cloud systems, yes there are benefits for them. But there are dangers. Consider the reaction to Windows 10, I’ve never seen techies so opposed to anything and I’m not the only one thinking that. Even when configured for maximum privacy, Windows 10 still talks back to Microsoft. If left unconfigured and installed in a doctors office or law practise, what are the ramifications of such a thing for client or patient confidentiality? If you’re forced to bring the data back in house, how do you obtain guarantees that it’s been removed from the cloud systems? What are the consequences if you can’t?
This is the world we’re moving towards, that we already have one foot in. More and more services will refrain from charging up front fees and will move towards less obvious methods of generating revenue. These methods will involve bombarding us with advertising or more unpleasant methods involving profiling and monitoring.
For my part, this is a world I find very distasteful and of highly dubious ethics. I’m already making Raspberry Pi based efforts to move away, when I’m ready I’ll write up what I’m doing and share it in the hope it benefits others of a similar cast of mind to myself.