Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More on Data

Data is really my main focus. All of my interests revolve around having and (more importantly) USING data. Of course, I'm a total infoholic, so it's no surprise. However, it's never cut and dried.

Here, for example, is an article about the police. They aren't planning on doing anything they haven't been able to do before. They're just planning on doing LOTS of it.

It's all a matter of cost in terms of manpower. Fifty years ago, it took a considerable amount of time to collect information about anyone. Today, it takes a fraction of a moment, and that data can be used forever. In the near future, it'll take no time at all. It'll be automatic.

Of course, data once collected is hardly useful data. But, still, it does make me feel uncomfortable at the thought that someone can call up a detailed history of me with a button click. More worrying is that names are hardly unique. I mean, my name is not exactly a common name, but until I started this blog, I shared Google's front page with a race car driver. What if he had a blog? Someone searches, and finds out that he's, I dunno, a skinhead or something. The data is there, but the data is worse than useless: it's misleading. Please note: I'm sure the guy with my name isn't a skinhead. And I have no problem being misidentified as a race car driver. He, on the other hand, would probably be upset at being misidentified as a cracked game theorist.

Data is and will always be what drives this world. You can't act on data you don't have. All of the interesting things are about gaining new data or combining available data. All games are about that, for instance. The way data is represented and the types of combinations/deductions suggested are very different, but at their core, all games are about data gathering and analysis.

Similarly, all branches of government are about data gathering and analysis. The police gather data and analyze it to catch criminals. The FDA gathers and analyzes data on the effects of specific products. Politicians gather and analyze data to determine the optimal lies to tell.

Of course, the problem is the aim of these operations. As you might expect, no faction is above corruption. In fact, most of our government factions are openly, publically, "acceptably" corrupt. The police give out tickets for speeding, for running with a broken tail light, for not wearing a seat belt. These tickets are for your own good, I'm sure. The fact that they make billions of dollars a year on this sort of graft is entirely besides the point. The FDA has industry ties - if it were a figurine, it would be buried in puppeteer's threads. Politicians lie - at best. At worse, they are considerably less respectable.

It's the nature of any sizeable faction. Aging unions are almost unbearable because they do NOT have the best interest of their members at heart: they have the best interest of the people who control the union at heart. It is the same with the FDA, the same with the police, the same with MicroSoft, the same with everything. All factions are led to serve the leaders of the faction.

If it weren't for that fact, I wouldn't care about the data being gathered. If everyone was reliable, personable, honest, and good, I would encourage the police to collect and analyze data on me. But they aren't. The police will analyze the data and send automatic tickets for driving without a seatbelt, for driving with a tail-light out, for jaywalking. These arbitrary fines are hard enough to bear when they only strike occasionally. They have already made the general public think poorly of those that should be held as heroes. How bad will this be when we are essentially forced into a protection racket? Especially with the forthcoming economic depression of the early 2020s, where the police will desperately need the cash such a racket would raise?

But whining won't help. You can try to get laws passed, but laws about lawmakers are rarely worth the paper they are written on. At best, they slow the lawmakers down a little. You can try to avoid "the system", which works but has some pretty significant drawbacks. You can force them to publicize all their data - which would please spammers to no end and not really save you any grief.

Or you can make your own system.

The system is so large that it is about as fast as a mollusk stapled to the floor. It's simple to evade, as its ooze spreads and taints the room. Just walk to another part of the room and staple your own goddamn mollusk to the floor.

An obvious example of this would be to move to another country. I harbor lustful thoughts at moving to specific parts of middle/south America. I don't know that I'll ever be able to act on them, but I don't require a strong economy (since my business plans are all tapping global economies), so it would seem to be a great choice.

A less obvious and more eminently do-able example of mollusk-stapling is making your money in a subsystem of the internet. A subsystem which cannot be accurately searched by search engines. A subsystem seperate from the government's automatic data-gathering abilities. Functionally, another universe. For example, making your living in a virtual world, selling virtual services. Sure, your real-life habits might be tracked in great detail, but your real-life habits consist mainly of sleeping and buying food. Hell, if the rig is good enough, I'll sleep and eat in game.

People have been saying "VR is coming!" for two decades, now. But really, there's never been any money in it. No money means no real development, and that means no VR.

Until now.

Until World of Warcraft.

Because every MMORPG player will happily spend $400 on a VR rig. And many non-MMORPG players. Because the time is almost ripe. I expect to see the first useful VR rigs sold within a decade. MMORPGs will rapidly add "SUPPORTS VR!" to their taglines. Players will finally be fully immersed.

Is that a bad thing?

I dunno. It's probably not physically healthy. But right now most of the people in this nation work 9 hours a day for wages which barely cover their living habits. I fail to see how playing a VR game 9 hours a day instead would be any worse for them.

I'll probably see you there. Hopefully, I'll be connecting from South America. :)


Skinhead_Kid said...

What's wrong with being a Skinhead? You make it sound like the whole lot of us are Neo-Nazis, or S.H.A.R.P.s or something. We're not you know. Lots of nice people are Skinheads. Or were you going off the misleading media's view of a Skinhead? Because of course, all Skinheads hate anyone that isn't white, or is of inferior breeding. If you think that you are pitiful and your collection and obsession with data is pointless because you collect but you've obviously learned nothing. I'm a Skinhead but I'm not a Neo-nazi. I'm a Skinhead but I'm not a S.H.A.R.P. I'm a skinhead, a working class kid that's aware of whats going on, proud of my roots, and more than ready to do what it takes to make a life for myself and not afraid to show off my keen fashion sense. Perhaps you could use the internet to widen your obviously narrow view of Skinheads. We're not all bad blokes like the media makes us out to be. We're simply fond of looking sharp and presenting a strong face in a world of lies and filth. Then again maybe you like your narrow view of us. I can't make you wake up and realize that not every stereotype you hear about us Skinheads is true, after all, if I could do that, I wouldn't have given you a second thought.

Craig Perko said...

I have nothing against people who shave their heads: some of my favorite people shave their heads. However, "skinhead" has always meant "foolish paramilitary teenager" to me, with strong undertones of racism. If there's another definition, I guess I was wrong to assume.

It's not really a crowd I know anything about. Feel free to educate me.