Sunday, May 3, 2020

Networks, and How They Affect Your Life

There are different types of networks:

  • Computer networks
  • Supply networks
  • Family/friends networks - relationship networks
  • Work networks
  • Racial/ethnic networks (sometimes overlaps the family/friends kind, often not)
  • University networks
  • Political networks
But, an essential feature of networks is that they can be mapped, and the interactions predicted (as much as any activity that humans are involved in can be predictable).

IF the network and its movements are known.

That's been the weak point in managing people in a free society - being able to tell where they are, and with whom they interact. Some quasi-free societies have made that laughably simple - for example, the UK, where public cameras dot nearly every place in cities.

Ring and other security camera setups - which were designed to capture the data of individual homes and their surrounding property, and upload it to a network comprised of neighbors and the police - have been adopted by many upper-class neighborhoods, with little concern about abdicating privacy.

Your cell phone is vulnerable to targeting your whereabouts and being able to determine your relationships, based on both movement, and various communications - verbal, text, shared social networks. Very few people think about that aspect of their privacy that they give up, for the pleasure of connecting with far away friends and family. For many, the tradeoff is worth it.

The latest assault on your privacy comes directly from government, with the cooperation of your cell company, your app providers, and your connected friends. "For our own good", many will be expected to give up their information to those who claim they are trying to limit the spread of a disease.

My knowledge of networks and how they work is slight. It's a heavily mathematical field, that uses computer models to show possible pathways - and which are likelier to be used, in different situations. It little matters what kind of network is involved; they function much the same way.

SOME oversight of networks seems to have a rational basis, for example, the FAA is scheduling the air traffic staff in workgroups that stay together, which limits the potential number of contacts.

What is NOT being asked is:
What are the implications for human trust in those networks, if privacy is lost?
 I don't have the answers; only my slender acquaintance with the history of societies that breached that trust to gain control over their subjects allows me concern. Enough concern that I've been looking into VPNs, security measures, and anonymous browsing methods.

Just kidding. In case Big Brother is listening.

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