back to article Data ethics in IoT? Pff, you and your silly notions of privacy

The future of personal data sharing is that “everything will become as-a-service” and nobody will own any property outright ever again, a gloomy lawyer told a wide-ranging data ethics discussion at IoT Solutions World Congress this afternoon in Barcelona. Painting this cheery picture was Giulio Coraggio of international law …

  1. lukewarmdog

    The thing with the talking toaster was that it did not know anything about anyone. It was only self-aware, not aware of customer desires. The self driving car or self-replenishing fridge don't need to be plugged into the Facebook database or your gmail, they don't need to know why you use so much whipped cream, just that you do, don't need to know why you're driving it across town, just that you are going somewhere. What happens when you add ethics is that the car decides your lifestyle is impure and at best refuses to take you to the cream party and at worse murders you for the greater good. Meantime the fridge orders a condolence cake for your wife and kids.

    1. Ole Juul


      Nice post lukewarmdog.

      "What happens when you add ethics is that the car decides your lifestyle is impure."

      This is what is happening now. People's choices are being taken over by overzealous and misinformed corporate marketers - from my perspective, evil. It is imperative that people take control and ownership of the technology they use and that it not dictate their choices. I am reminded of this quote by Napoleon Bonaparte: "Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide."

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: tyrants

        Problem is, a lot of people actually like having their minds made up for them. It's like they fear that thinking for themselves will hurt or something, it's been puzzling me for decades. Of course, this sort of behaviour fits perfectly into a everything-is-a-service scenario.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: tyrants

          Not all choices are equal, though. There is such a thing as "I don't give a flying fornication".

          Imagine if you got into a taxi, told the driver your destination, and she responded with "Would you like to optimise your route for time, price, or emissions?" You're in a hurry, so you reply "Time". "Would you like me to break the speed limit slightly?" Hmm, tricky - if you say "no" then obviously it'll take longer, but if you say "yes", does that make you jointly liable when she breaks it? Is she recording this? Now you've placed me in a dilemma, and I wanted to spend the journey mentally preparing for an interview.

          There's such a thing as "too much choice". I want service providers to make a lot of choices on my behalf. I regard it as the height of laziness when they badger me for all these decisions that they should have been able to take for me.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: tyrants

            But what happens when your (in)decision comes back to bite you in the butt?

            Because EVERYTHING is a decision: including deciding whether or not to decide. Everyone has an opinion: even no opinion (which is simply indifference). And every decision can have consequences.

            Sure you may say not to give a soaring screw...until you learn your indifference has turned into a liability.

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: tyrants

            "There's such a thing as "too much choice". I want service providers to make a lot of choices on my behalf. I regard it as the height of laziness when they badger me for all these decisions that they should have been able to take for me."

            Is it the height of laziness or the height of butt-covering and lawyer-evading?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: tyrants

        D'you mean AI in a car might decide to object to a spot of shagging in the back seat?

    2. You aint sin me, roit

      Ethics are difficult, particularly if my robocar is sworn to protect me...

      "Do I have a head-on collision with that car that has swerved over onto my side of the road? Or do I protect myself and my driver by ploughing into those softer, low momentum objects on the pavement?"

      And there will be no point in asking me because I'll be off my face on cheap booze (why else would I want a robocar unless it can drive when I'm drunk?).

  2. Diogenes

    his is what is happening now. People's choices are being taken over by overzealous and misinformed corporate marketers

    Did someone say "nudge" ?

  3. 404
    Black Helicopters

    Faraday Concept Homes

    No signals come in, none emanate out - the homeowner decides what is best for their family. Entry/exit would be airlock style, designed as a foyer or mudroom. This is a reachable goal with current tech, I'd pay extra, but I'm just a little odd.

    Pretty sure others would want such a thing too - business plan anyone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Faraday Concept Homes

      Must be pretty dreary in those homes since your pretty much can't have manipulable windows (no open air or it's open season for EMR, and even radio-blocking glass doesn't look too pleasing). You probably have to have all-plastic piping and electrical isolation to avoid antenna effects. No chimneys, either (chimneys require an open-air passage). Given all that, you're probably easier off living deep in a cave.

      I mean, if you want to live in a TEMPEST-type setting, you may wish to consider the long-term aesthetics and sellability.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "there are only different shades of doing the wrong thing."

    That sums it up... Meanwhile:

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These little morsels of information

    These little morsels of information were generated by us, by an individual, or describe an individual and as a result they should forever be owned by that individual. Data created or generated by an individual is their data, only they can own it, only they can allow access to it. Change the law to reflect that and then lets talk about the details.

    As for services, that may not happen as soon as some suggest. Years ago Honda looked into it, considered the consequences of of getting out of the car selling business and into the car service business.

    The report pointed out that it would be an easy sell to governments. With companies retaining ownership and control of products they would always be recycled, could be taken back if used for illegal activity, and could be kept at peak operating efficiency ensuring minimum emissions.

    And an easy sell to Honda investors because the opportunity for increased profit was much larger than selling a product.

    BUT the report pointed out that Honda would then be responsible for the car. Responsible for maintaining it, and most importantly for mitigating it's environmental impact. With the then new Hybrid cars being introduced Honda would be responsible for recycling the car including batteries, something that could not be recycled at the time.

    It was determined it was better, at least in the short term, to sell cars because with that sale goes almost all the costs of tracking and maintaining and the damage they do to others and the environment.

    If a company wants to own a house and it's contents they will be responsible for them during their whole lifecycle, that's called renting and it is very much more expensive for good reasons.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: These little morsels of information

      What about information that pertains to multiple parties simultaneously, such as employment information, which is germane to both employer and employee. Who gets the final call in a yes/no decision about this data?

  6. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    An autonomous Car-Thing ramming a bus full of schoolchildren will turn out to be not a question of ethics but of legal financial liability. These are similar but not the same.

    So robots with the famous "Three Laws" are unlikely to appear in real life. As written, it appears that anyone could order someone else's expensive robot to jump off a cliff, unless the robot is able to calculate the harm to its actual owner of losing an exensive robot. But then that means that the Third Law (self-protection) actually is above the Second Law (obey orders), unless the robot is extremely cheap or is already subject to recall because of the exploding battery problem.

    There is now apparently that AI that makes a pretty good job of calculating the outcome of lawsuits.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Some people made their own decisions.

    "not quite on the topic of “data ethics” the audience was led to believe. Some got up and left."

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