Forget Privacy: By 2025 There Will Only Be The Watchers And The Watched

PIC: Fuma Ren (CC)

PIC: Fuma Ren (CC)

The good news: In the era of the Internet of Things your appliances may actually listen to you when you curse at them. The bad: So will an elite class of professional “watchers” intent on monitoring your every move and possibly subjecting you to experiments in data mining and surveillance.

A new report from the Pew Research Center Internet Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center looks further ahead to 2025, and asks how things will have moved on by then. Its conclusions–summarized below–are based on responses from 2,551 people, both Internet “experts” and members of the public.


By 2025, people will have sensors implanted in their bodies. Dams and bridges will send maintenance data to engineers. Paper towel dispensers will bleep attendants when they need refilling. Fridges will automatically buy milk when the carton runs empty.

The best bit about this: less waste. “The net effect will be to reduce waste everywhere: in physical flows and logistics, in the movement of people and goods; in logical flows and logistics, in the movement of ideas and information…” says JP Rangaswami, chief scientist for Storekeepers will move from a stocking model where they take regular deliveries in response to shortages, to “flows” where inventory is updated more responsively.

We’ll also move away from just interacting with the Internet to letting our devices (wearable, of course) interact for us. “Most of our devices will be communicating on our behalf–they will be interacting with the physical and virtual worlds more than interacting with us,” says Paul Saffo, managing director of Discern Analytics.


“The level of profiling and targeting will grow and amplify social, economic, and political struggles,” the report says. How can it really not? With surveillance ubiquitous and everything quantified, it’s going to be hard to escape from someone’s electronic eye, whether it’s the NSA or a company. Frank Pasquale, a law professor at the University of Maryland, says: “There will be a small class of ‘watchers’ and a much larger class of the experimented upon, the watched.” Aaron Balick, a psychotherapist, thinks we could lose sight of ourselves. “Positive things may be tempered by a growing reliance on outsourcing to technologies that make decisions not based on human concerns, but instead on algorithms,” he says. All of which is likely to increase the premium on ways to “disengage from the network,” the report says.

via 6 Ways The Internet Of Things Will Develop By 2025 | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

17 Comments on "Forget Privacy: By 2025 There Will Only Be The Watchers And The Watched"

  1. There only is the watchers and the watched now. The only thing different in the future will be technology that allows them to watch more efficiently and track you better and read your thoughts remotely.

    • BuzzCoastin | Jun 4, 2014 at 6:54 pm |

      that is what they would like you to think
      when in fact Big Homelander is a ham fisted hacker at best
      slow witted beurocratic bungglers
      who by their own admission
      were pawned & owned by Saudi’s with box cutters

      • Sam Spade | Jun 4, 2014 at 7:47 pm |

        Very true. Have you ever read Thieves Emporium?

        • BuzzCoastin | Jun 4, 2014 at 8:27 pm |

          no, but reviews sound interesting

          my interaction with gov web sites
          gov beurocrracies & beurocrats
          and the public record
          helped convince me they’re clueless

        • Matt Staggs | Jun 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm |

          Knock the viral marketing stuff off, please.

          • Sam Spade | Jun 5, 2014 at 2:36 am |

            OK. I will not darken your door again.

          • Matt Staggs | Jun 7, 2014 at 12:59 pm |

            You’re very welcome here, but the marketing stuff isn’t much different from the “My uncle fez makes $1,000 on the internet” spam we get. I do understand how hard it is to market books, though. I was a book publicist myself for a while. Tell you what: I’ll let you write a post about your book for the site – if you want.

          • Sam Spade | Jun 7, 2014 at 2:08 pm |

            I will be pleased to send you a writeup on the book.

            But I disagree with your analysis of the nature of spam. I post my thoughts on many subjects that I feel passionate about. They are subjects that are directly applicable to the thread I post on. Often those subjects are too complex for a simple blog post. When that is the case, I include links for publications that go further into the subject. Thieves Emporium is particularly good for this because of it’s survey nature and the fact that it’s fictional format makes it an enjoyable read. It is, however, not the only reference I mention.

            So are you saying that I am welcome on your site as long as I don’t post links to any reference material? As an example, Talib’s Antifragile is a book that I often suggest. Would you prohibit me from mentioning this work?

          • Matt Staggs | Jun 9, 2014 at 1:22 am |

            Sam, there’s a huge difference between Talib’s “Antifragile” and “Thieves’ Emporium”:

            I believe that you’re the publisher of the latter book, and I’m pretty damned sure you’re the author as well. You’ve told people on other forums to get in touch with you via Max Hernandez’s email address, and I saw you mention once that you publish the book. I found that information on a google group page, and it took all of about half a minute.

            I can find dozens of pages of your spamming this book all over websites, forums, and blogs all over the net., not to mention that I noticed that after responding to so many reader reviews, “Sam Spade” is being called out as the author by reviewers at Amazon.

            Trying to take the moral high ground isn’t the best strategy to take in this situation, especially after I offered you an opportunity to share the book with our readers in an above-the-board manner.

            I know a lot of science fiction writers, publishers, and reviewers, too, and could have probably hooked you up with a little legitimate coverage had you come clean, but you chose to treat me and our community like we’re idiots, instead.

            If on the off chance that you’re just a rabid fan of the book who spend days recommending it everywhere you can, then I think you’re doing your pal Max a major disservice because what “you’re” doing makes “him” look like an idiot.

            Hit the bricks.

      • misinformation | Jun 4, 2014 at 8:25 pm |

        If I may rearrange this a little, to be more accurate…

        ‘when in fact Big Homelander is a ham fisted hacker at best
        slow witted beurocratic bungglers
        who by their own admission
        were pawned & owned by Saudi’s with box cutters’

        ‘THAT is what they would like you to think’

        • BuzzCoastin | Jun 4, 2014 at 8:39 pm |

          the Homeland gov has my personal data
          during several interactions with them I discovered
          according to their records
          I have 2 different birthdays
          & 2 different surnames
          my birth name has the wrong birthdate
          the other name has the correct birth date

          try using a Homeland gov web site
          dark ages interfaces that rarely work

          the best they can do is collect everything
          because their not smart enough to know where to look

          • misinformation | Jun 4, 2014 at 11:48 pm |

            I have no doubt that the bureaucrats described in your second post, in your personal experiences are as your experience suggests.

            This – ‘were pawned & owned by Saudi’s with box cutters’ – I don’t buy.

            I can’t think of a better way to cover ones tracks than to hire low level bureaucrats like the ones you’ve described.

            The rhetoric of ‘blowback’, ‘failure of imagination’, ‘inability to share information’, etc. is a nice story to tell (over and over and over and over again, btw, especially with regard to ‘blowback’) when they want to take the heat off themselves and don’t mind hiding under cover of ‘bungglers’.

            9/11 – most profitable bungle in history.

            As is said, follow the money.

          • BuzzCoastin | Jun 5, 2014 at 12:45 am |

            the itony of 911 is
            either way they failed to uphold their sworn duty
            and no one did any jail time for malfeasance
            nor even lose their jobs
            rather than Big Homelander being some monolithic thug
            he’s a collection of beurocratic fiefdoms
            grubing for cash

          • misinformation | Jun 5, 2014 at 1:23 am |

            That last point is pretty hard to argue against. Except that I don’t necessarily believe being a thug or a bureaucratic fiefdom grubbing for cash, are mutually exclusive.

  2. InfvoCuernos | Jun 4, 2014 at 5:33 pm |

    On recommendation from someone here( Matt, I think) I have begun reading “Lacey and his friends” which was remarkably prescient for 1986. Paints a pretty realistic picture of a surveillance state. If it wasn’t for the air cars- David Drake loves his air cars- it would be pretty much what we will have in the next 100 years.

    • BuzzCoastin | Jun 4, 2014 at 7:03 pm |

      surveillance is the modern Spanish Inquisition

      the surveillance state has been in full swing since ww2
      now their crowing about it
      they can’t find a needle in hay stack
      and in every major “security” situation
      they have failed to deliver a return on the trillions invested

      at best they can persecute individuals
      or serve their selfish ends
      but they don’t protect society as a whole
      because they can’t

Comments are closed.