How will Sixth Sense redefine your 'privacy'?

Artificial intelligence is getting more intelligent by the day. And honestly, this is something that scares me.
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

Artificial intelligence is getting more intelligent by the day. And honestly, this is something that scares me.

For a generation that was born in the pre-Internet era, concepts like MIT Media Lab's Sixth Sense appear very alien, and distant. But, I am sure this technology, like several other emerging technologies that we hear or read about every day, will be available in the market sooner than we anticipate.

It's like mobile phones. I distinctly remember watching a TV program in the early 1990s on the new mobile phone technology--or 2G, as we know it today. It was yet to be launched in the United States. I thought to myself, "if this phone is yet to be launched in America, it will take another two decades for it to come to India". I was wrong. Mobile telephony was introduced in India around 1996. And soon enough, most of us became a part of the mobile telephony ecosystem.

With deeper proliferation of technology comes the sense of losing one's privacy. Just last week, there was news about a lady (in the U.K.) who spotted her husband's car parked outside another woman's house, using Google Street View. The husband had claimed he was away on business. The man would have never dreamt of being caught red-handed.

While there's cheating on someone, hiding information or lying are one thing, privacy is quite another matter. If you have watched MIT researcher Pattie Maes' presentation, you would know that the Sixth Sense technology can turn any surface into a projection screen, including you t-shirt or your hand, which can then be used as a computing touchscreen or for gathering more information.

An MIT wizard, Pranav Mistry has cobbled a Web camera, a battery-powered projector and a mobile telephone into a gizmo that can be worn like jewelry. The gadget can even take photographs through gesticulations, like the user making a frame with his or her hands. Signals from the camera and projector are relayed to smart phones with Internet connections. This was something that one saw in the Tom Cruise flick, Minority Report.

The prototype of this gadget costs only US$360. Surely, when this technology is launched commercially, it will find mass adoption (just like mobile phones).

This brings me back to the issue of privacy. Imagine walking into a party and anyone with that device will know all that is there on the cyberspace about you--your address, your professional background, your likes and dislikes, and perhaps even some weird ratings about you as a person (isn't there enough of that balderdash on social networking Web sites?).

What do you do if you are not comfortable sharing information about yourself? I, for one, would hate to see someone carry out a Google search (literally) behind my back (by using my back as a projector). Good Lord!

Already, there is so much information available on the Internet that I am sure it will be impossible to remove that from the Web by the time something like this is launched.

Undoubtedly, the word "privacy" will need to be redefined. It can no longer mean "the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one's private life or affairs".

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