With PCs disappearing from desks but technology showing up everywhere else, computing will only get more personal in the coming decades.
Bumps in the road
But before we wire our bodies, we need a far more secure network than today's internet and better privacy safeguards for the petabytes (1,024 terabytes) of consumer data that an always-connected world will generate, says Pradeep Khosla, co-director of Carnegie-Mellon University's CyLab.
RSA chief scientist Ari Juels believes biometrics and encryption will help with security, but trouble may still arise when data reaches users' screens. Context-smart back-end systems will help. “They'll know that, if you're in San Francisco, someone in Thailand shouldn't be using your credit-card number,” Juels explains.
Khosla says that a combination of technology, education and tough legislation against “the abuse and misuse of information” is the best way to surmount the privacy hurdles that remain.
Liebhold adds: “I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that our privacy will be lost or that it will be protected. We have control over the future.”
Tiny cameras and wireless connections may herald an era of ‘sous-veillance', as cameras and mics in your glasses or shirt buttons record every moment, upload it and let you replay the action.
Steve Mann, a Toronto University professor, has used wearable devices to record nearly all of his waking life since 1980.
“Imagine recording every conversation you've ever had with your spouse,” says Jamais Cascio of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. “That kind of easily searchable memory will change what it means to be a person.”
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