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Paper: As we may live

As we may live - Real-world implications of ubiquitous computing [pdf]
Marc Langheinrich, Vlad Coroama, Jurgen Bohn, and Michael Rohs
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

Good summary of privacy and ubicomp, including definitions of privacy, privacy motivations, privacy borders, ubicomp economic implications, etc...

Varying definitions of privacy:
- Brandeis: "The right to be left alone"
- Alan Westin: "The claim of individuals... to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others"

Dimensions of privacy:
- geographical context (public park, home)
- informational access rights (e.g. laws prohibiting masking of face in public in some states)
- expectations and manners (social rules)

Privacy motivations (according to Lessig):
- Empowerment: Control dessemination of personal information, perhaps for financial gain. Is personal information private property (entitles the owner to sell ownership/rights) or intellectual property (owner cannot sell rights to name to anyone)

- Utility: Close to the "right to be left alone definition." Utility comes from not receiving calls at home, spam, etc...

- Dignity: dignity::="the presence of poise and self-respect in one's deportment to a degree that inspires respect." Focus on balancing information exposure between two people (i.e. they don't know significantly more personal details about you than you them).

- Constraint of power: Checks and balances model. The less information others have, the less empowered they are.

- By-product of imperfect surveillance tools: privacy as a result of the cost and efforts of violating one's privacy with surveillance, etc...

Privacy's "border crossings" (Gary T. Marx):

- Natural borders: walls, doors, sealed letters, clothing, even facial expressions hiding true emotion.

- Social borders: expectations of privacy in with friends (not reading each other's mail) and professionals (doctors, lawyers).

- Spatial or temporal borders: notion that a person's indiscretions as a child should not affect them as an adult. Similarly, walls that people keep between different social groups that they are a part of.

- Borders due to ephemeral or transitory effects: expectation that certain information is fleeting. For example, letters tossed in the trash or flippant remark in a private conversation.

Ubicomp technologies increase the opportunities for border crossings.:
- ephemeral/transitory borders: memory augmentation technologies - every conversation becomes permanent.
- spatial/temporal borders: consumer profiling technologies keep a long history of purchase. This can threaten the notion that all people are treated equal, as certain benefits will be denied to those without the proper profile.
- social borders: granularity of ubicomp communication technology (e.g. shared whiteboard) might make exchanges more public than expected.
- natural borders: surveillance technologies

Technology paradox: if local context-aware systems become too good at recording our actions and providing information retrieval, they will become appealing to law enforcement. Use by law enforcement of these technologies in turn will decrease their appeal to consumers.

Economic implications:

- instant economy: transparency in the supply chain inventory (using RFID for example would allow for greater efficiencies in distribution and reduce costs associated with inventory management. Also, machines that monitor their own condition can order parts as necessary to fix problems much more efficiently by removing a step in the repair and monitoring process.

- just-in-time pricing: goods can monitor their own condition and supply to dynamic adjust prices. Grocery stores become more like a stock market. However, buyers are likely to find the lack of predictability unnerving.

- pay-per-use: Accenture Labs has demonstrated a pay-per-use chair. Strong conflict with buyer's notion of ownership. Similar technology has made it's way into DRM. Opting out might be made too expensive.

- dynamic taxation: ability to adjust taxation based on regional conditions or other factors. Also able to observe purchasing from a macro-view to try and determine important trends (e.g. oncoming recession or disease).

- autopilot: free people from mundane tasks, such as driving. Safety/security/economic issues with such technologies (e.g. computer software blamed for 1987 Stock Crash, cascading effect of same software all deciding to sell because they are observing the same conditions).

Building reliable systems:
- dependability: robustness against crash/failure
- preditability: ability to descern if the system is working. Excessive customization can reduce predictability.
- presistance: if system is overly dynamic, humans might not be able to cope with rate of change
- comprehensibility and manageability: how do smart objects scale/interact?
- control: fine line between technologies that assist and technologies that take control away from user.
- accountability: if system operates on too fine a granularity, who can possibly audit it? (e.g. micropayment systems)

Critiques of ubicomp:
- critiques of vision and goal: too all-encompassing, too vague, no clear definition of how, too focused on transformation of society

- critiques of effects: threats to privacy, control

- criques of cost-benefit ratio: what is the value of floor sensors. Costs to human-human relationships.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on May 13, 2003 2:27 PM.

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