What if your Smart Phone Out-Smarts you?

David and the Dev Team do an Issue Jam together. We start off with random topics: Divide & Conquer

What if we had to live life without mobile phones? What if we didn’t have mobile phones?
What if you had to choose between your phone or your friend? Or, toilet paper in the time of Covid?
What if smart phones were used as a means of social control?
What if your phone was being used to control you?
What if your smart phone is watching you?
What if your phone betrays you?
What if your smart phone out-smarts you?

Don’t count your chickens until they’re hatched.

Divide & Conquer
Split people along divisions and pit them against each other. War. Coronavirus. Health vs. Economy. Colonial wars, tribes fighting amongst themselves. British in Malaysia. Use propaganda. Racialization. Us vs. Them scenario. Who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’? Exploit the differences of opinion; people who don’t see their shared purpose of common interests. Wearing surgical mask as expression of political identity. One side thinks Covid is overblown and everyone’s being hysterical vs. people who wear masks are virtue signaling that they are united, concerned about the community, on the side of Science, “Who is on the side of mask and who isn’t?” Similar to Anti-Vac movement; Anti-mask movement. Anti-maskers.

Carrot and Stick. The US sees the rest of the world as either with us or against us - Allies or Enemies. They divide different nationalities in that way. “Only a Sith deals in absolutes”; there is no in-between. Black and White. Trying to unite people, don’t want to create nuanced possibilities; they must believe there is only “the way”, one way, there is no gray area. No need to negotiate lots of opinions. Create absolute - “my way or the highway”. Extreme position.

"Smart" Phone
Is it too smart or not smart enough? Dumb phone. It cannot do my job for me, yet. “Live my life for me, please”. What if we had to live life without mobile phones? It would be difficult to connect with people, especially during Covid-19. Isolation. Have we become too dependent on these devices. Ubiquitous like electricity. Without them our lives would grind to a halt. We would have to go back to a previous, less-efficient time in our history.
Smartphone is a double-edged sword. We had bird flu before. You might get the wrong information from your phone. Fake News. Misinformation. Social Media used to misinform. Since “the existence of phone” everyone has the ability to gain knowledge faster than previous ages. Letters took time to arrive. Some people would ascribe meaning to the time taken for the letter to arrive. Same for social messaging. If you don’t get immediate response to your message, is that meaningful? Do they not like me? Are they dead? What happened?

Diseases were thought of as curses way back when. We resorted to superstition to explain things but now we have data that is shared quickly. The speed of a lie (as opposed to the speed of truth). BP (before phone), AP (after phone).
Do people really use smart phones as a telephone? Do we need to rename it?

“What if cats disappeared from the world?” - Japanese novel. Main character has cancer and will die in 40 days. Devil’s bargain - if you sacrifice one thing, you get to live one more extra day. Character chooses his phone and devil creates a world in which nobody ever uses a phone.
Dream - I wake up and everybody speaks a different language form me and we can’t understand one another or communicate.
Could you live your life without your phone? How often do you check your phone? Addiction.
Y2K. Phone Apocalypse. Android vs iPhone - the OS Wars.
The Hashtag to divide and conquer. You’re either team Edward or team Jacob. #teamedward, #teamjacob.

The Digital Divide.“Feature” phone meant ‘dumb’ phone. Low or high income populations: feature vs smart. Students in the US going to public school can’t be certain they have the online tools to continue class. Free data packages in Malaysia - Internet as public utility.

N82 flagship Nokia smartphone - I was the only person who could take photos with Xenon flash and upload; it was a ‘smartphone’. Then iPhone came out and it was reduced to a ‘feature’ (dumb) phone. Thought I was one of the cool people. Apple came, divided and conquered.

We assume the phone is smart because it’s doing what we want it to, helping us… but what if it’s working against us as a surveillance device, or nudging us to do things we don’t want, someone else is controlling the phone and thus controlling us… so the ‘smart’ feature is that the phone is our master and we are the ‘dumb’ terminal. Smartphone could be massive propaganda A/B testing machine. See how people react and what they think.

Phone apps that gather information after looking at your behavior. Echo chamber. Facebook bundled into core OS of the phone. You had a choice but the convenience took away your agency. What gets embedded in the phone is embedded in your life. Deep integration.

Freedom of the Internet. Not censored, allows you to do anything. Increasing notion that apps like Facebook (shopping service coming)… more and more FB is becoming the Internet. Facebook is the Internet in certain countries because it’s too difficult or costly and FB underwrites the cost in order to get subscribers. Let FB market products and services, and control you, for free.

The phone captures a lot of metrics on you: accelerometer (sitting or standing), gps (location), gyroscopes, etc. Even if you turn off the data services, the phone still captures your data while you’re offline and uploads to Google and others after-the-fact. It’s hard to prevent information capture when using a smart phone.

You could use long-distance runner’s phone data to predict who the next winner will be for Olympic gold. If there was a way to get access to the information, you could place bets. Predictive engine. Apple already knows. Prediction surveillance tool.

Contact tracing app sends bluetooth data between other user when in proximity. The live data can be offered to epidemiologists and other interested parties. We would probably agree to this in a pandemic.

The younger you are the less concerned you are about privacy. Post everything. “Why worry if you have nothing to hide?” What happens if the authorities decide that you’ve been reading the wrong things, doing the wrong things, saying the wrong things. China takes ‘dissenters’ on forced holidays. Singapore threw people in jail for reading political books that were the ‘wrong’ books. Would you willingly share your browser history with your romantic partner? With the government? What if you researched stuff for story purposes that looked terrible to outsiders? Other people determine what is okay and what’s not okay. Society changes. McCarthyism and communism. The House UnAmerican Committee. The Thought Police say that you are an ‘undesirable’ in society.

1 Like