Go To: Bell Let’s Talk: Mental Health – Part I, Part II – The Internet, Part III – Internet of Things
When you think about privacy and solitude or confinement, it usually means that you are alone – by yourself. In speaking about activities you’d like to perform by yourself, and in the context of this article, I immediately think about conducting banking transactions over the internet. You type in your password, make a couple of transactions and then close the account down. It’s a private activity and you expect a higher than normal level of privacy to conduct this activity to ensure whatever you did in your account gets transferred privately through the banking system’s electronic methods.
Emails. That’s communication. Whether you’re typing to a friend, business partner, and a client – again, you type in your password, send and receive your communications and then close the account down once you are done. Since emails have replaced traditional door-to-door communications (which is harder to intercept and read by perpetrators) you also expect a certain level of privacy that confines your communications between you and your receiver. You could pay a bill, book a flight, fill out your annual taxes, submit your Employment Insurance hours (ODSP or any social program that you’re receiving funding from), receive your test results from the your doctor (or hospital)- all should be private and confined to between you and your receiver. In fact, privacy in terms of telecommunication is not limited just to your interactions over the internet but also extending to the telephone phone, cell phone and text messages.
In the last installment of the Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health series will focus on issues of privacy vs confinement. I, for one, will admit that I am one of the lucky ones to be part of the last generation to enjoy some level of personal privacy because with privacy we can also expect a certain amount of freedom and autonomy. Not being connected to anything but a small amount of surveillance watching you go about your personal business, which by today’s standards, are nothing but luxuries from yesterday. Suddenly issues of privacy has become an acute concern and I would imagine it began when the internet was first introduced to the world back in the mid-90s. Prior to the internet we’d only have to worry about security cameras patrolling the perimeters of private homes, street cameras watching traffic, cameras in the shopping mall, grocery stores and individual shops.
How important is privacy to you? More importantly, how important is freedom to you?
It can be a difficult question to answer especially if you haven’t had either of these two taken away from you – with no recourse – especially, and most importantly, in a “free” and “democratic” society in a country where we as Canadians citizens are considered to be Rights holders. Ann Cavoukian, Former Privacy Commissioner of Ontario was quoted saying, “Privacy forms the foundation of our Freedom. You cannot have freedom without privacy. We need to be diligent. Authorities are there to protect our privacy and preserve our freedom.” To help you along, let’s do a visualization exercise. It’s the same exercise I had you do in a previous blog in the Pillars of Democracy series. However given all our talk about prisons I can’t think of a better illustration – and it’s the easiest and most obvious way to make the point. So here we go:
Close your eyes or just quiet your mind for a moment. Once you get to your quiet place try to place yourself in a courtroom setting (doesn’t matter why you’re there nor whether you’re guilty or innocent) and the jury stands up, the Judge asks for their decision (it’s so quiet in the courtroom you could hear a pin drop) – wait for it – “GUILTY!!!” Damn – you’re going to jail! The Judge reads your sentence and just like that – you’re whisked off to prison.
Once there, you’re checked in and the guard brings you to your cell which is a very, very small enclosed space, perhaps there’s a tiny window big enough to let through one ray of sunshine during the day and one moonbeam a night reminding you just how confined you are. Your cell has concrete floors and walls that are painted gray (which over time affects your mood), it could be cold and damp, a cold steel toilet in an open corner, a cot or steel bed, a flimsy blanket and a flat pillow. Got the visual? Now in both corners, there are video cameras watching every move you make 24/7 for however long you’re in there recording each and everything that you do in this tiny cubicle while a guard outside makes his rounds passing by on the hour every hour to check up on you. You don’t talk to anyone except the guard, no friends or family members are allowed to visit except once a month and even then those visits are supervised by jailhouse staff and recording devices. You get the picture? Most importantly the feeling? Good.
Now hold that and multiply this feeling for 2 to 5 years (that would be 730, 24hr days – 1825, 24hr days) of how this must feel and what it does to your heart, spirit, and mind, while you read the rest of this article.
Bell Let’s Talk Personal Data
We are a society that supports individuality and individualism. Is that not one of the cornerstone theories of the American neo-liberal/capitalist society? Technology, for example, has provided a variety of ways, means and methods for us to perform our tasks and duties that no longer require us to be part of a “hive” (i.e. working from the home rather than the office, self-employed work). As long as we have a computer at our disposal we can conduct a variety of activities alone. But are we really alone?
We connect on social media or playing video games, we connect through playing online games, we order our pizza and beer online and sit there for hours upon hours talking and playing games with people but we are still physically alone. There is a difference between solitude and solitary. Where human-to-human interaction; sitting across from someone interacting, the holding of hands, a reassuring hug, an energetic dance in a ballroom are physical activities providing human contact and interaction. Whereas our technologies are mentally connecting us but keeping us physically separated from each other – worse we are now making “robo-companions” and sex robots that could replace human contact. My personal view is that solitude is something you welcome and sometimes impose on yourself whereas solitary is something someone does unto you.
However, in speaking of privacy and solitary vs mental health and technology that companies like Bell Canada brings to our communities there something that needs to be said. We need peace of mind as we entrench ourselves more and more into a digitized (and sensor-ized) world. With the introduction of the Internet of Things my fear is that we will become a society much like the Borg on Star Trek where ‘resistance is futile’. We are tagged and tracked not only on items but on hour bodies and in our personhood.
Let’s take for example we have tele-medicine with the introduction of nanotechnology where now we can track what’s happening to ourselves internally. We have the technologies where our brains can now connect to computers and through the use of some form of telekinesis we can move objects with our minds and it’s only a matter of time when these technologies can read your mind and thoughts. That’s very intrusive, exciting and very scary at the same time. It’s exciting if you need the technology to fix a health or psychological problem, but to take it out of the context in which the gadgets were created for and use it on someone who gave you no consent, and sends a very dangerous message to humanity. We are already experiencing challenges with consent and privacy laws in terms of our personal data, just how much of ourselves do we want to share with the system. Do we have a choice anymore?
“On the Internet, the personal data users give away for free is transformed into a precious commodity. The puppy photos people upload train machines to be smarter. The questions they ask Google uncover humanity’s deepest prejudices. And their location histories tell investors which stores attract the most shoppers. Even seemingly benign activities like staying in and watching a movie, generate mountains of information, treasure to be scooped up later by businesses of all kinds.
Personal data is often compared to oil—it powers today’s most profitable corporations, just like fossil fuels energized those of the past. But the consumers it’s extracted from often know little about how much of their information is collected, who gets to look at it, and what it’s worth. Every day, hundreds of companies you may not even know exist gather facts about you, some more intimate than others. That information may then flow to academic researchers, hackers, law enforcement, and foreign nations—as well as plenty of companies trying to sell you stuff.
“The internet might seem like one big privacy nightmare,” says Wired magazine “but don’t throw your smartphone out the window just yet. “Personal data” is a pretty vague umbrella term, and it helps to unpack exactly what it means. Health records, social security numbers, and banking details make up the most sensitive information stored online. Social media posts, location data, and search-engine queries may also be revealing but are also typically monetized in a way that, say, your credit card number is not. Other kinds of data collection fall into separate categories—ones that may surprise you. Did you know some companies are analyzing the unique way you tap and fumble with your smartphone?”
The Future of Personal Data Collection – Personal information is currently collected primarily through screens, when people use computers and smartphones. The coming years will bring the widespread adoption of new data-guzzling devices, like smart speakers, censor-embedded clothing, and wearable health monitors. Even those who refrain from using these devices will likely have their data gathered, by things like facial recognition-enabled surveillance cameras installed on street corners. This will all be enabled through the internet of thing by using RFID so that these devices may upload the information to the data clouds for storage and consumption. In many ways, this future has already begun, for example, it is reported that Taylor Swift fans have had their face data collected, and Amazon Echos are listening in on millions of homes.
We haven’t decided, though, how to navigate this new data-filled reality. Should colleges be permitted to digitally track their teenage applicants? Do we really want health insurance companies monitoring our Instagram posts? What about the private prison scenario I gave in the last blog entry, this technology clearly won’t only be used as a State’s function, instead it’ll be given in the hands for people to circumvent the law and take matters into their own hands as another form for “social” punishment – which provides a scary future for non-conformists. Governments, artists, academics, and citizens will have to think about these questions and plenty more.
Whether data is fabricated by computers or created by real people, one of the biggest concerns will be how it is analyzed. It matters not just what information is collected but also what inferences and predictions are made based upon it. Personal data is used by algorithms to make incredibly important decisions, like whether someone should maintain their health care benefits, or be released on bail. Those decisions can easily be biased, and researchers and companies like Google are now working to make algorithms more transparent and fair.
We need stronger laws and legislation to allow individuals to sue another person directly for violating his or her personal/cyber information. Depending on the level of information a victim can provide, law enforcement officers usually directs the victims of cyber-crime for emotional help rather than catching the criminals. This is so especially if the victim’s devices weren’t properly secured – it then soon becomes the victim’s fault. And then there’s the question of victim-blaming vs whistleblowing. While being blamed for not having the latest bells and whistles for data security, the victim might also hold back their whistleblowing for fear of retaliation from cyber-criminal(s) which creates a potential for more harm to be incurred.
There needs to be a stronger definition of what “invasion of privacy” means and stronger accountability/penalties for those charged with cyber-crimes (see: Ontario Court of Appeal, Jones vs. Tsige, 2012, Reuters). Although this case was about snooping through bank records, the court said that only intrusions into things like one’s financial or health records, sexual practices and orientation, employment, diary or private correspondence would qualify as “highly offensive”. Yet those definitions need to evolve to include the new possibilities where your data can be breached, for example, with nanotechnology, brain computer interfacing, RFID sensors for IoT. Invasion of privacy will also include bio-privacy, intellectual privacy, optical privacy and objects where you might not want sensors reading your data (i.e. your toilet seat). Basically, it’s an invasion of person-hood and cyber-crime is an invasion of our “digital” person-hood, many of which these same records (and more) could be digitally accessed.
At the 2016 Tele-summit Daniel Thierren had the following to say when he addressed tele-communications industry:
“Canadians have entrusted you with their digital lives. And in the 21st century, we are so much of what we do and who we are is tied to our online activity which comes with an immense responsibility. At the heart of this relationship is respect for privacy. You know as well as I do that Canadians value their privacy and prefer to do business with companies that respect their privacy rights. In our most recent poll of Canadians 9 out of 10 told us that they are worried about their privacy and meanwhile 81% said that they are more likely to choose to do business with a company specifically because it has a good reputation for respect for privacy practices. But they also want our government to act on their behalf is protecting their safety and security given your unique privilege and position you know how important all this data is to government and law enforcement agencies. Governments around the world are collecting more and more data about their citizens often through intermediaries such as organizations that you represent.”
Questions, therefore, of liability will come into play in areas of whom is responsible for the collecting, transmission and collection of such data and sure enough companies like Bell will definitely come into play concerning their security and practices in privacy breaches.
Bell let’s Talk about Emancipation the Right to be Forgotten
Recent news about the St. Michael’s College sexual assault case, in Toronto Ontario, has horrified just about anyone who has learned about the alleged incidences. Approximately four incidents of sexual assault at an all-boys school took place where on two occasions the victim was assault one with a weapon and the other incident with the boy was held down by a group of boys and sexually assaulted with what appears to be a broomstick. An equally horrifying fact; the culprits shared the 22 second video-“escapades” on social media, sparking the spiraling scandal at the school and no doubt within the community.
This story alone, although I am sure there are varying types of humiliating and embarrassing footage hitting the internet from all over the world, should drive the point further home; that the digital world can be a very dangerous place and that it has the capacity to ruin people’s lives. What goes on there; revenge porn, selfies, slapstick funnies, insulting rants, video and still camera pics of questionable behavior and activities; some sexual some criminal and some just down right mean like what happened at St. Michael’s. What goes on the web stays on the web and it never goes away! Some people post these things themselves thinking it’s cool or they’re being sexy other times it’s done unto you. A chilling thought that seems to escape many people’s minds probably until they themselves have to face its affect immediately or perhaps years down the road after one has matured.
The same WIRED article quoted above cautioned readers; “There are few more toxic practices online than “doxing”, the distribution of someone’s personal information across the internet against their [knowledge and/or] will. It’s all too common, though, deployed regularly and devastatingly as a means to harass and intimidate. The practice is not limited to public—or briefly internet famous—figures either. Anyone can be a victim, at any time. Doxing is an effective tool for bad actors, because the internet can cough up a shocking amount of publicly available information about practically anyone. Data brokers have become ‘valuable resources for abusers and stalkers. While you can delete your Facebook account relatively easily, getting these firms to remove your information is time-consuming, complicated, and sometimes impossible. In fact, the process is so burdensome that you can pay a service to do it on your behalf.”
Ok Bell, Let’s talk Mental Health! What to do if/when this happens to you?
There’s a piece of regulation that was recently approved in the EU called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which introduces a right for individuals to have personal data erased. The right to erasure is also known as ‘the right to be forgotten‘ where individuals can make a request for erasure verbally or in writing. You have one month to respond to a request. The right is not absolute and only applies in certain circumstances and views on the right to be forgotten differ greatly between America and EU countries. The term “right to be forgotten” is a relatively new idea, though on May 13, 2014, the European Court of Justice legally solidified that the “right to be forgotten” is a human right when they ruled against Google in the Costeja case. The GDPR provides the following rights for individuals: … The right to erasure. The right to restrict processing. The right to data portability.
“Privacy advocates hailed the decision as a major victory in their battle to protect personal information. Other organisations raised concerns that it could lead to organisations censoring truthful information about people if they don’t like it.” (Techworld) “The right to be forgotten is, however, an elusive privilege. It more easily captures an idea than it does a policy. An act of dis-remembering is impossible to enforce, but the principle has been invoked to support personal privacy by expunging outdated, inaccurate or irrelevant information.”
Personal information is currently collected primarily through screens, when people use computers and smartphones. The coming years will bring the widespread adoption of new data-guzzling devices, like smart speakers, censor-embedded clothing, and wearable health monitors. Even those who refrain from using these devices will likely have their data gathered, by things like facial recognition-enabled surveillance cameras installed on street corners. In many ways, this future has already begun: Taylor Swift fans have had their face data collected, and Amazon Echos are listening in on millions of homes. We haven’t decided, though, how to navigate this new data-filled reality. Should colleges be permitted to digitally track their teenage applicants? Do we really want health insurance companies monitoring our Instagram posts? Governments, artists, academics, and citizens will think about these questions and plenty more. Whether data is fabricated by computers or created by real people, one of the biggest concerns will be how it is analyzed. It matters not just what information is collected but also what inferences and predictions are made based upon it. Personal data is used by algorithms to make incredibly important decisions, like whether someone should maintain their health care benefits, or be released on bail. Those decisions can easily be biased, and researchers and companies like Google are now working to make algorithms more transparent and fair.
Along with creating government regulations and legislation, some ways we can protect ourselves is through the use of encryption. Mr. Theirren certainly believes that “Canada could be a leader in creating stronger encryption technology. Encryption is extremely important for protection of personal information.” He says, “Having strong encryption protects [users] from identity theft, from ransomware that locks us out of our computers, and from vast networks that would take control of our Internet-connected devices and use them to launch cyber-attacks.”
“While citizens use encryption to safeguard their information it is not necessarily for the purpose of hiding information but to protect such information which can be used against them (i.e. Profiling, identity theft etc.) especially if they are a public figure or hold a high-level in office. It also harms individual and democratic rights. Strong encryption means unbreakable encryption: it is impossible to create a “back door” for government agents that also cannot be exploited by hackers, foreign governments, and other malicious actors.”
Generally speaking I would argue that encryption is extremely important for the protection of personal information it should be used, it should not be tampered without extremely good reason. As such, companies that manufacture telecommunication devices plays a big role in this. That being said companies are also subject to law and judicial warrants that require access to personal information that may be legitimately needed where public safety is at risk. For the balance it is difficult encryption is very important for the protection of data for privacy but companies at the end of the day, like citizens, are subject to the rule of law. And the rule of law may require cooperation with law enforcement and national security agencies in some cases. Even so, even if the rule of law prevails at the end of the day, I would argue that the Law that should be defined needs to bear in mind the realities of technology. If you break encryption or create an exception to the protection provided by the encryption technologically, what impact will that have on the population.
Finding the right balance between encryption and law enforcement is a tough nut to crack and I don’t think anyone has the answer to where to draw the line at this point. We should not have to choose or prioritize, whether through intelligence agencies, employment, health, even through curious parenting, cannot be permitted to prioritize spying over cyber-security. Furthermore authorities must not work to undermine encryption standards so that they are easier to break, or hoard security vulnerabilities that should be fixed. Weakening such systems that are already in place will make us more vulnerable and undermine trust in digital systems and technology.
Therefore in reminding you Bell Canada, along with your colleagues, our Privacy Commissioner challenged the way you conduct your business “Canadians value security in the days of threats confronting the world today but they also care deeply about their privacy they want to ensure that laws and procedures are in place that respect Canadian values and they want the police and national security agencies to do their job but to do it lawfully. Canadians have also told us at the OPEC that they want to do business with companies that respect their privacy and are upfront with their personal information handling practices. They want greater transparencies so institutions can earn their trust at the end of the day – we live in a country that is governed by the rule of law. A democratic country that promotes and respects human rights. Still we need to be vigilant if we are to ensure the privacy rights of Canadians remains protected….” Additionally, in doing so will also help with our overall “mental health”.
Therefore each technological advancement we make creates more opportunities for cyber-crime to take place with results getting increasingly deadly and more permanent. ‘Before we can figure out the future of personal data collection, we need to learn more about its present. The cascade of privacy scandals that have come to light in recent years—from Cambridge Analytica, Bell Canada issuing an apology 1.9 million customer email address 1700 named and phone numbers that were illegally accessed, to Google’s shady location tracking practices—have demonstrated that users still don’t know all the ways their information is being sold, traded, and shared.
Until consumers actually understand the ecosystem they’ve unwittingly become a part of, we won’t be able to grapple with it in the first place.’ In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we experience a technology backlash with individuals seeking to go “low-tech” to reduce the threat and potential for personal harm or just sick and tired of being watched and tracked seeking to have a bit of privacy back. I remember a Star Trek episode where everyone on the planet was connected cybernetically to this super-duper computer that circled the planet’s atmosphere. Much like the internet of things everything and I mean everything was connected. This brought tremendous value to the community and as a result they evolved to become a superior race. However, something went wrong with the super-duper computer in space and everyone was getting “infected” and dying. The “away team” beams down to help. Long and short of the story – no one knows how to fix the computer; no one has ever been up there, since it’s been in their atmosphere for generations upon generations.
It turns out the answer wasn’t up in the sky but in their local library that was in some cast away area of the planet that no one ever goes to and no one can use because no one reads nor writes on that planet for the computer handles all those capabilities since everything is voice activated. The “away team” had to travel to the crumbled centuries old library and read through the books left by the ancestors and voila! They were able to make some sort of beam that blast through the sky to fix the super machine and everybody was saved! The scary part is we’re not too far away from that reality, losing our abilities in reading and writing for it too will join the other forms and objects tossed into, the category of “lost arts”.
Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health and Solitary Confinement
With the onset of new technologies and new ways of going about our activities in terms of privacy and surveillance the line between solitude and solitary can be blurred. With each passing invention it will become easier to target an individual and completely isolate the person form its community, monetary receiving’s and basic sustenance to live a life of humanly dignity. In the opening paragraphs of the book, Solitary Confinement: Social deaths and its afterlives, philosopher and author Lisa Guenther begins to inform her readers of the following:
“There are many ways to destroy a person, but one of the simplest and most devastating is through prolonged solitary confinement. Deprived of meaningful human interaction, otherwise healthy prisoners become unhinged. These see things that do not exist, and they fail to see things that do. Their sense of their own bodies even the fundamental capacity to feel pain and to distinguish their own pain from that of others – erodes to the point where they are no longer sure if they are being harmed or are harming themselves. Not only psychological or social identity but the most basic sense of identity is threatened by prolonged solitary confinement”
For example, there’s the decimation of life skills that involves the systemic obliteration of the capacity of love, work and pay. Normally a prison program would encompass a rehabilitation program to prepare the prisoner re-entry back into the community. Efforts to support prisoner’s psychological health, prisoner’s in solitary confinement receive none of the above and receive no training aimed at improving their capacity to relate intimately and socially to others. They are barred from all activity related to any kind of work, indeed, any growth in productivity or work skills is stunned as prisoner’s remain idle for 23 hours a day – day in and day out. Solitary confinement on an average inflicts an emotional flatness and total absence of vitality that not only does not improve but severely impairs prisoner’s capacity for normal human functioning.
Prisoners often report that it is very difficult to sleep in supermax unit – they can hear everything (footsteps, doors slamming, people talking, prisoners yelling etc.) and at the same time nothing. The loss of sleep intensifies psychiatric symptoms by interfering with their normal diurnal rhythm (the steady alternation of day and night that provides human beings with orientation as to time), and the sleep loss creates fatigue and magnifies cognitive problems, memory deficits, confusion, sluggishness and amplifies their anxiety. Worse yet the prisoners most often found in solitary confinement being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment were not “special needs’ prisoners, they weren’t suffering from serious mental illness and they weren’t juveniles. They were alleged or affiliated gang members and although the accusations were questionable to false that was the justification for keeping them locked in solitary for decades.
“We have known this for almost as long as solitary confinement has been practiced where reports were already beginning to emerge of a sharp increase in mental disorders among prisoners, including hallucination, “dementia,” and “monomania”. While penal codes, theories of criminal justice, and psychological terminology have all changed over time, the symptoms of solitary confinement have remain strikingly consistent: anxiety, fatigue, confusion, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, headaches and uncontrollable trembling…..” These symptoms are quite severe for a person who has been in lock-down for 23 hours of a 24 hour day, day it and day out.
Many reported a sense of anger and hopelessness for needlessly being subjected to intensified confinement. They felt angry and powerless as one said “because I have to rely on people [staff] for everything, and they treat me as less than human. As soon as you realize that this will never end, and that you are stuck being at the mercy of staff who hate you….their negative feelings intensifies.
Deprived of connection, they experience what Lisa Guenther has described as a form of social death:
“Social death is less a matter of being denied the natural rights and freedoms of an individual than of being isolated in one’s individuality, confined to one’s separate existence and blocked from a meaningful sense of belonging to a community that is greater than oneself….”
They grow listless, and increasingly lacking in initiative to do anything, even exercise, spending endless hours silent and alone, entirely out of touch with how they felt, they began to feel unreal and nonhuman. When this happens the shut down and become quite unmotivated to do anything, they experience memory loss, and concentration problems. Their capacity to function begins to deteriorate in high isolation and since 93 percent of prisoners will eventually reenter the community we have to think about the long-term consequences of their significant stints of time in solitary confinement; because then it because a problem for the community and families to handle the burden. Their more broken coming out then they ever were going in. Is that what we want? And to who’s benefit?
Therefore, Bell Canada, I’m sure you can appreciate why those select few decided to protest about the telephone services you provide in penitentiaries. A telephone is not just a phone line, it is a life line for those inside trying to maintain a level of sanity and being in contact with their friends and family is certainly one way to do so. And vice-versa, they are as well concerned for the health and well-being of the prisoner inside those dreadful walls.
But to say all this many won’t realize just how precious freedom and privacy is, that is until it actually happens personally to them. So to conclude we will return to our visualization exercise we started at the beginning of the article, you might have to go back and read it to capture the feeling of losing your freedom and privacy. Got it? Good.
Now to close this exercise visualize it’s the day where you finally gain that freedom and ability to return to a life of privacy. But this time it is different. You’re different. Because you’ve spent 730, 24hr days – 1825, 24hr days in confinement. Your friends are now strangers, your family are now relatives, you find little joy in the things that one you enjoyed and through information sharing, the storage of all that surveillance data you’re not really sure what happened to your identity while you were in there (let alone what got you in there in the first place) and how best to proceed into your new future. Prisoners feel this way, especially those in long-term solitary confinement when upon release they describe “problems with socialization and impulse control, they are less able to get along and seek employment than they were when they went into prison, they will become a burden on to families and communities already suffering from loss [decimation] of skills lack of resources, jobs and social services.”
Consequently, as research has repeatedly shown, long-term solitary confinement makes post release adjustment difficult to impossible and drives up recidivism rates. These men are seriously disabled but their disability was not readily apparent because, after all, they were living in a cell; only upon release to the general prison population or the larger society can others see the profound damage that isolation does to prisoners’ capacity for connection and general life functioning. The longer one spends idle in a cell by oneself, the more one’s skills for living in the community disappear, the more impaired one’s capacity to love, work, and play. Their capacity to function deteriorates in isolation even if they do not suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. “If you don’t use it – you lose it” can apply here.
For a newly released prisoner, knowing they are no longer the same as they were when they went in, a question may still haunt them; “What elements do I keep and what do I throw away?”
Yet, the good news is, you’ve got a new home! AND, instead of one ray of sunlight you get to enjoy the full sun in all its glory, instead of one beam from the moon you can delightfully observe its full bloom underneath a blanket of stars. You have a warm soft bed to sleep in with a fluffy pillows, a thick comforter and carpeted floors – a full bathroom with a tub and a door to close with absolutely no recording devices! Yes, finally, you can truly appreciate your own company – well, that’s a pretty good start! It’s almost like wiping your computer system’s hard drive and installing new software and security techniques with all the things you have learned. Got that feeling? Good!
Now, let’s start moving out the exercise and into concluding our Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Series.
The Future of Living with Technology
Solitary [and solitude] confinement doesn’t necessarily have to take place in the walls of a prison, it happens out in the open where we are free to interact and also communicate freely in society. Solitude and solitary confinement doesn’t happen with the body it could also happen in the mind and to emotions. An abusive husband/wife not allowing their spouse to socialize outside of the home, excommunication with in religion, social and administrative confinement with schools, social cliques and it is already happening over the internet especially through our social medias. We do this to each other whether we are conscious of it or not. Why? Because we humans are social beings who thrive and survive through human interaction and if an individual does not conform (or behaves poorly) to the norms of the tribe, well it’s quite a natural tribal reaction – you cut them off, cast them out for the sake of protecting the tribe. It’s a natural disciplinary reactions performed on all sorts of levels since the dawn of man. But what does that do to a person’s mental health? What does that do to the health of the tribe?
It’s a malaise that our society seriously has find solutions to the antagonisms we create between the “included” vs the “excluded”. The proposal, IoT and restorative justice, I presented in the previous blog is an attempt to show how radical and proactive in our thinking and doing that we need to be to find solutions to heal our societal divides. Our survival as a species depends on it! For it is a collective resolve we need to have to find answers to the ecological crises and nuclear threats that we face, to the privatization of intellectual property that threatens human knowledge and cultural systems, the socio-ethical perils of the uncontrollable and privatized bio-genetic revolution – we MUST end social apartheids in order for us to survive!
Technology is not the enemy, we humans are. For technology will always advance and evolve however the human spirit our collective conscience seems to have stagnated and remained the same. You would think after the atrocities from WWII and what came about during the Nuremberg Trials would be enough for us to collectively resolve to never let it happen again but it’s still happening everywhere in varying degrees. Yet we have only provided new technological tools for us to use to satisfy age-old human fallacies. We still hate, we still thirst for power, we’re still greedy, there’s still racism, misogyny, sexism, jealousy, homophobia, xenophobia and the like it all still exists and burns very much alive in communities all over the world. If WWII wasn’t enough for us to change, I fear what event would have to transpire to challenge us to do better, and be better!
What we need is a evolution of human development – a modern humanities; one that does not replace classical studies; one that is not based on exact sciences and technology, where human values are de-emphasized and people cease to be the principal concern of humankind. “This pedagogic malaise underlies the present crisis of civilization” [Jose Delgado, Neurological Bases of Modern Humanism] According to Delgado, “…the time has come to update the study of man… we need to counteract stagnation in the evolution of human ethics, which is not developing at the rate of science and technology…. We need to define modern humanism.”
In AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, the author Kai-Fu Lee freely talks about his cancer (not sure if it’s terminal or not) and interjects his personal journey while he speaks about the future of technology. I came across a chapter where after waking up from one of his cancer treatment sessions his business partner shares an epiphany about how clients were using their technology. It is here he realized where technology could never trump human ability, an area where we still need to do better and be better – and that’s in the area of: love. He offers a way were we can work with technological advancements where it doesn’t over take human’s capacities but we can use it to enhance our own. He says:
The desire for human contact, there’s a blueprint for coexistence between people and artificial intelligence. Yes, intelligent machines will increasingly be able to do our jobs and meet our material needs, disrupting industries and displacing workers in the process. But there remains one thing that only human beings are able to create and share with one another: love.
With all of the advances in machine learning, the truth remains that we are still nowhere near creating AI machines that feel any emotions at all. It takes no pleasure, no happiness, and no desire to hug a loved one. Despite what science fiction films portray, AI has no ability or desire to love or be loved. ….The machine would not change its outlook on life or how to vow to spend more time with its fellow employees. It is in this uniquely human potential for growth, compassion and love where I see hope. I firmly believe me must forge a new synergy between artificial intelligence and the human heart and look for ways to use the forth coming material abundance generated by artificial intelligence to foster love and compassion in our societies. If we can do these things, I believe there is a path toward a future navigating that path will be tricky, but if we are able to unite behind this common goal, I believe humans will not just survived in the age of AI.
We will thrive like never before.
The Right to be forgotten
Wired, The Wired Guide to Your Personal Data (and who is using it), Louise Matsakis, Febraury 15, 2019: https://www.wired.com/story/wired-guide-personal-data-collection/
Go To: Bell Let’s Talk: Mental Health – Part I, Part II – The Internet, Part III – Internet of Things
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Appeal court imposes new conditions on solitary confinement while it considers its decision
Posted on Monday, January 7, 2018
UPDATE: For immediate release
Read BCCLA Blog: Fight to End Indefinate Solitary Confinement Continues