DARPA, LifeLog, Facebook, et al

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    This will be a multi-part OP, please refrain from responding until I have all parts up, thank you in advance.

    As a result of a post by esteemed ATS member IgnoranceIsntBliss, over in Part V of the Q thread, this thread has come into being.

    Back in 2004, DARPA put an end to a project called LifeLog:

    The Pentagon canceled its so-called LifeLog project, an ambitious effort to build a database tracking a person’s entire existence.

    Run by Darpa, the Defense Department’s research arm, LifeLog aimed to gather in a single place just about everything an individual says, sees or does: the phone calls made, the TV shows watched, the magazines read, the plane tickets bought, the e-mail sent and received. Out of this seemingly endless ocean of information, computer scientists would plot distinctive routes in the data, mapping relationships, memories, events and experiences.

    Researchers close to the project say they’re not sure why it was dropped late last month. Darpa hasn’t provided an explanation for LifeLog’s quiet cancellation. “A change in priorities” is the only rationale agency spokeswoman Jan Walker gave to Wired News.

    However, related Darpa efforts concerning software secretaries and mechanical brains are still moving ahead as planned.

    Pentagon Kills LifeLog Project – Wired, 02.04.04

    Guess what else happened the very day this Wired article was published?

    Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service company based in Menlo Park, California. Its website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.

    Facebook – Wikipidea

    Facebook has recently been in the news and indeed Mark Zuckerberg recently gave testimony to congress:

    What came out of that testimony is still being chewed over in various news articles and internet forums, but what stands out are a few key factors.

    There is an extreme amount of distrust among many members of the public for government and corporations in as far as what is done with information gathered about each individual and what is done with said information. With whom is it shared, what safeguards are placed on it, and who owns the information?

    Looking back into the research, it seems hat these questions have been around and look to not have been addressed in a satisfactory manner.

    It also seems as though LifeLog was not the only such project from that time period:

    The emergent interest in the concept of lifelogging stems from the growing capacity to store and retrieve traces of one’s life via computing devices. Products to assist lifelogging are already on the market,6 but the technology that will enable people fully and continuously to document their entire lives is still in the research and development phase.7 Creative inventors like Steve Mann have led the way.8 “MyLifeBits” is the name of a Microsoft Company–sponsored full-life lifelogging project conceived in 1998 to explore the potential of digitally chronicling a person’s life.9 MyLifeBits focuses on preserving the life of veteran researcher Gordon Bell.

    Back in the late nineties to early 2k, technology was still very clunky and not as ubiquitous as it has since become. Take a look at cell phone technology from the time period:

    Compared to the average smartphone of today, nothing at the time period could compare in capability or sophistication.

    Lifelog innovators are promising to better the ancients with their memory machines. The idea of a memory machine was once pure fantasy. 17 But technologists predict that full-life lifelogging devices will one day be integrated into everyday existence, becoming as ordinary as telephones.

    I think it is inarguable that we have arrived at that point today; indeed we have likely been here for a fair few years.

    As for what was envisioned by DARPA for LifeLog:

    In 2003, DARPA solicited proposals for a lifelog technology project with possible military applications. The lifelog technology DARPA conceived “can be used as a stand-alone system to serve as a powerful automated multimedia diary and scrapbook.”23 Moreover, “[b]y using a search engine interface,” the user of the lifelog DARPA hoped to create could “easily retrieve a specific thread of past transactions, or recall an experience from a few seconds ago or from many years earlier in as much detail as is desired, including imagery, audio, or video replay of the event.”24 Project LifeLog was short-lived; but during its evocative span, it invited the public to imagine the greater effectiveness of military commanders equipped with lifelogs and with access to lifelog data concerning the experiences of their troops.25

    All sounds very noble and high minded, does it not?

    And yet, we know that any such system is open to potential abuse. Indeed, the possibility of abuse is what is said to have shut down DARPA’s project.

    One person’s comprehensive, full-life lifelog would inevitably capture biography and expressions of the lives of othe persons. How, if at all, should the capture and surveillance implicit in personal sousveillance be regulated?32 How can security against harmful falsification, deletion, data breaches, or identity theft be assured? Would lifelogs turn individuals into surveillance partners of government? How much access should the government have to an individual’s lifelog for national security, law enforcement, public health, tax compliance, and routine administrative purposes? The ethical and legal implications of lifelogging merit the serious attention it is beginning to receive.

    Unfortunately, I odn’t think those implications were ever adequately considered.

    One final paragrapah from this paper before I move on:

    Comprehensive full-life lifelogging technology does not yet exist outside the laboratory and is not, therefore, ripe for legal rules and regulation. Yet ethical limitations and design parameters suggest themselves.101 No one should be required to keep a lifelog. No one should be suspected for not keeping a lifelog. Personal lifelogs should be deemed the property of the person or persons who create them. No one should record or photograph others for a lifelog without the consent of the person or their legal guardian. A counter-technology to block lifelog surveillance should be designed and marketed along with lifeloggers. The owner/subject of a lifelog should be able to delete or add content at will. No one should copy a lifelog or transfer a lifelog to a third party without the consent of its owner.

    D redging up the Past:
    Lifelogging, Memory, and Surveillance
    Anita L. Allen
    (direct .pdf link)

    View the original article: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1204243/pg1

    …to be continued.

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