Maciej Cegłowski on The Unbridled Growth of Surveillance

On June 16, 2016 Maciej Cegłowski, one of four panelists on a seminar called The Moral Economy of Tech, startled his SASE audience of social economists with his ten minute contribution. It is worth taking the few minutes it takes to read. He reveals the scary extent to which our institutions gather a dangerous, gargantuan, indigestible amount of data on virtually every citizen.

Border customs agents are (Egad!) discussing asking travellers routinely for their social media links.

Cegłowski calls for a rethink of this invasive activity that governments and corporations do “just because we can” and muses about what could happen if extrajudicial murder by military or police drones were to become as commonplace in the First World as it is in an increasing number of US-strategic, Third World, places. And what place isn’t “strategic” for Barrack and Hillary these days?

One “tongue in cheek” photo to highlight America’s relentless military expansion:image

The above courtesy of

Cegłowski points out that many of these drone hits are simply based on circumstantial data collection from cell phone contact lists or social media interchanges that create some imprecise “probability” that a target, guilty or innocent, is in a house or a car or at a wedding:

Get into the wrong person’s car in Yemen, and you lose your life.

He concludes with this frightening statement about data collected for data’s sake:

What we’ve done as technologists is leave a loaded gun lying around, in the hopes that no one will ever pick it up and use it.

I’m getting tired of passing on this stuff like Jeremiah.



Author: mytiturk

Travelbug Minstrel: Strum for my supper, croon for my cuppa Search for a sign, write for my whine

5 thoughts on “Maciej Cegłowski on The Unbridled Growth of Surveillance”

    1. Thank you, Carol 🙂 it doesn’t seem that brave to me, but I’ve been posting my opinions in this robotic, Pavlovian stimulus/response cycle for so long that I’m long past the point of hiding them. More concerning: the exhaustion/depression point is here and the increasingly apparent futility is staring me down.

      Think poetry, music and photography would be more positive ways to spend the rest of my time on Earth, but, sadly, they don’t drive me as powerfully and instinctively as anger at what i think is happening, which, I admit, may possibly be illusory.

      Do you experience similar misgivings?

      1. I think I’ve been fortunate, Bob. I have had a chance to live as a semi-recluse, simplifying my life considerably to make it doable. It’s given me a chance to reflect and complete the first draft of a book that haunted me for more than a decade. And that project helped me find a way to balance in the tenuous space between feelings of deep rage/sorrow and moments of peaceful hope and joy. Blogging and amateur photography/art have also helped me express feelings and connect with like-minded others (and a toll or two).

        I’ve been learning to accept where I am and live in the present, following my heart to do what I can to live more consciously and compassionately. I’ve even decided to teach again, putting my manuscript editing aside for the upcoming semester.

        Perhaps it’s just accepting that the best I can do at this moment is to find balance in the “tragic gap” Parker Palmer writes about, briefly described in my recent post:

        He warms that our hearts will break in this world in one of two ways. They’ll shatter or they’ll break open to carry more of the pain and joy of the world.

        No matter what you choose to share on your blog, I learn something new. You have such gifts to share as a thinker, social justice advocate, writer, singer and photographer. I always look forward to your work.

        Sending you my best wishes ❤

      2. Thanks for the time and thought you put into this response. Palmer’s idea of faithfulness to one’s path in life regardless of perceived outcomes strikes a chord and supports what my motivation has been. I will also comment on your post, but first place the link to Palmer’s interview here:

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