Having your identity or even a credit card or debit card number stolen is unnerving. A family member who lived in Iowa had his identity stolen a few years ago and someone took out a $17,000 loan in his name and he didn’t even know about it for months. My debit card number was stolen a few years ago and someone used it to buy about $800 worth of furniture from some place in Florida while I was in Texas.
I am not so sure, however, that there are other technological invasions of our lives that aren’t more creepy.
I was going through some Google settings on a computer the other day and found a location where I had to set something to make sure the com-puter asked me before it turned on the microphone or camera on the computer, when interacting with Google sites.
Yep. Not only does Google – and the rest of the technological world with which you have ever, or continually connect – track what you look at, some of it has the ability to use tools on your computer to, well, hear what you say and watch what you do.
All of these technological incursions – some call them advances – are very lucrative. Mark Zuckerberg, the majority owner and founder of Face-book, just passed Warren Buffet as the third wealthiest person in the country, at about $77 billion. He trails Jeff Bezos, owner and founder of Ama-zon, and Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. It depends upon whom you ask in terms of what those two are worth, but it ranges from $82 billion to $150 billion.
But I digress. Zuckerberg’s social media platform has found its way into everyday life, and apparently that’s not enough. His research teams are constantly looking for ways to maximize profits, either through Facebook operations, or by generating new products that can be patented and sold.
The New York Times recently reported that Facebook has hundreds of patent applications pending, but then offered insight on seven new ones it is pursuing.
Are you ready for the “advancements” that potentially could be made available for somone – if not Facebook – to use?
One predicts whether you’re in a romantic relationship by measuring how many times you visit another user’s page, the number of people in your profile picture, and the percentage of your friends that are of a different gender.
One proposes to use your posts and messages to infer personality traits – extroversion, openness, and emotional stability – and then uses that in-formation to determine which news stories or ads to show you.
One looks at your posts, messages, credit card transactions, and location to predict major life events, such as a birth, death, or graduation, and share information with others who might be interested.
One analyzes the photos you take by evaluating the pixels, finding scratches and other defining characteristics of the camera, to see with whom you might share it, to see if others use it, and to link the subjects of your photos with others who may have taken their photos, too.
One will use the microphone on your phone to identify the TV shows you watched and whether ads were muted, and, it would use the electrical in-terference pattern created by your TV pwer cable to guess which show is playing.
One would track your weekly routine through your phone, and send notifications to others when there are deviations, and, it would use your phone’s location in the middle of the night to determine where you are staying.
One correlates the location of your phone to others’ phones to deduce with whom you socialize most often, and, would monitor your phone’s sta-tionary status to determine how many hours you sleep.
Facebook says the patent considerations aren’t an indication of its future efforts, but rather a reflection of where it thinks technology is going. Are you buying that one?
At what point does the “coolness” of our technology cross the line into being far too invasive? It’s my guess that it already has; we just haven’t bother to recognize it. And by the time we do care, well, Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg will have already have an app for how to handle that. And you.