Hot Lost Cause: Privacy
When did the fear of Big Brother become the desperation for a double tap on our latest Instagram-post update? Once we feared that technology would be the death of privacy. These days we're live streaming the wake. Ever-shrinking cameras are rapidly eliminating the undocumented life, whether it's vanity-driven social-media broadcasters or politically minded activists determined to monitor overzealous police. Three years ago, Peter Austin Onruang's company Wolfcom was supplying body cams to more than 500 police departments in the U.S. when he noticed something strange. "I began to see a consumer wave of people interested in our technology," Onruang says. "There are roughly 750,000 law-enforcement officers throughout the country, so I'm only tapping into a tiny market." So he altered some software and created a device called the Venture that can be worn as a body cam, put on the dash of a car or used as a baby monitor.
The thinking on privacy has changed quickly. Four years ago, the launch of Xbox One was hamstrung by the Kinect, a microphone and camera array housed in a plastic rectangle designed to sit atop your entertainment center, watching your body movements and listening for voice commands. The Kinect drew protests and was separated from the console. But Apple bought the company that helped develop it, and behind the seamless, buttonless front of the new iPhone X lies a bundle of intelligent cameras capable of face recognition so advanced that it can ID a person even if they put on a hat and sunglasses and grow a beard. It's essentially the same technology found in the Kinect. And this time, no protests. Lines around the block instead. B.C.