Is anyone watching grandma?

kino eyeOn Friday I had a chance to meet with a group of Artificial Intelligence researchers at Carnegie-Melon university. They demonstrated a working technology, Informedia, which I would have guessed was at least 3-5 years off.

What was most incredible about this demonstration was the vivid observation of the trenches in which the information war is being waged. Like any power, technology can bend towards good or evil, and as this post points out, Social Software can be understood as the purposeful use of technology for the public good.

The surveillance possibilities that machine based processing of video and film affords is mind-boggling and horrifying (for more on this angle, see my bioport papers or the Permanent Records presentation). At the same time, the kinds of research, machine based assistance, and even the ways in which this kind of technology would change journalism, could all be harnessed for the public good.

Is transparency, openness, and free culture our best bet for steering and harnessing these powers productively?

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