Via Instapundit comes this interesting piece by Wired's long-time visionary, Kevin Kelly:
We're expanding the data sphere to sci-fi levels and there's no stopping it. Too many of the benefits we covet derive from it. So our central choice now is whether this surveillance is a secret, one-way panopticon — or a mutual, transparent kind of "coveillance" that involves watching the watchers. The first option is hell, the second redeemable….
The remedy for over-secrecy is to think in terms of coveillance, so that we make tracking and monitoring as symmetrical — and transparent — as possible. That way the monitoring can be regulated, mistakes appealed and corrected, specific boundaries set and enforced. A massively surveilled world is not a world I would design (or even desire), but massive surveillance is coming either way because that is the bias of digital technology and we might as well surveil well and civilly….
The self forged by previous centuries will no longer suffice. We are now remaking the self with technology. We've broadened our circle of empathy, from clan to race, race to species, and soon beyond that. We've extended our bodies and minds with tools and hardware. We are now expanding our self by inhabiting virtual spaces, linking up to billions of other minds, and trillions of other mechanical intelligences. We are wider than we were, and as we offload our memories to infinite machines, deeper in some ways.
Amplified coveillance will shift society to become even more social; more importantly it will change how we define ourselves as humans.
Lots think about, especially if you're familiar with David Brin's thoughts on the matter from years gone by.
Much of what Kelly discusses is also touched on in Reason's pathbreaking June 2004 issue, which featured 40,000 personalized editions of the magazine sent to subscribers and a great cover story, "Database Nation: The Upside of Zero Privacy," by Declan McCullagh.