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Security Businesses Wireless Networking Apple Hardware

Wozniak Unveils WozNet 490

Posted by simoniker
from the track-your-spare-tags-with-tags dept.
dki writes "Steve Wozniak's WozNet is covered in an article at the New York Times today. His company Wheels of Zeus, mentioned previously on Slashdot last year, plans to create wireless networks that use GPS to track clusters of electronic tags within a 1- or 2-mile radius of a base station. The tags "will be able to generate alerts, notifying the owner by phone or e-mail message when a child arrives at school, a dog leaves the yard or a car leaves the parking lot.""
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Wozniak Unveils WozNet

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  • interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spytap (143526) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:20PM (#6492287)
    I'm not sure whether my first reaction is one of geek-interoperability heaven, or "1984"-style wariness. I guess my feelings are that for private citizens this could be a very cool idea, but for a general populace control/observance I'm a little worried.
  • by vasqzr (619165) <vasqzr@netBOYSENscape.net minus berry> on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:21PM (#6492302)

    If Paul Allen bought a wi-fi company would it be under Microsoft?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:21PM (#6492305)
    when someone mentions RFIDs, everyone gets all up in arms about it, but when it's Steve Wozniak behind them (these things are basically an advanced form of RFIDs and can be used in much the same way), it's wahoo! go woz! you rock man!
  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:28PM (#6492389) Journal
    RFID tags are applied by a retailer or manufacturer. The consumer has no choice in the matter, and may not be able to remove them. The WOZ tags, on the other hand, will presumably be bought by individuals who will be able to decide for themselves which items to track, and which to simply ignore.
  • Woz vs Joy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swordgeek (112599) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:28PM (#6492392) Journal
    Most people here have read Bill Joy's article on "why the future doesn't need us." One thing he mentioned in the article is that he may have a moral directive in the near future to stop developing in the field he helped create, because it was doing more harm than good to society.

    This is exactly how I see Woz's latest project. It sounds like something that has FAR more potential to be invasive and violating than it does to be useful. I'm a bit surprised, actually--Woz has always struck me as doing weird but cool stuff, not nasty stuff.

    Anyways, it seems a sad day when one of the proto-geeks is forgetting to look at what he's actually doing from a larger perspective.
  • by AntiOrganic (650691) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:28PM (#6492396) Homepage
    You're also ignoring something here: We CONSENT to having these tags placed on something, and only what we want them placed on. No surprises here, and nothing's being tracked that we don't want tracked.
  • by Cappy Red (576737) <miketoon@nOspAm.yahoo.com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:30PM (#6492420)
    Introducing WozCrutch, a product with some good possible implementations, but that will be used more often for the bad. Let it watch your kids, pets, anyone or anything you care about, so you can forget to. They don't move as fast as you think they do anyway.

    *honk*
  • by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:30PM (#6492422) Homepage Journal
    Big Brother at a consumer level.

    wonderful.


    To my mind, there were only 1 problem with big brother:
    The information was not universal. That is, only the government had access. If the general public had access to the same data, it would have been OK. ie. The problem was not that the govenernment had too much data, it was that it did not share it.

    I know that sounds crazy to half the /.ers, but the other half should love it, right? Information wants to be free, right? Your location and activities ARE WHO YOU ARE. I don't believe that the government should have access to that information - I believe everyone should [unless your in a private place, say your own home, then just your location should be available :-]

    The moniker(sp, sorry) "Big Brother" implies something: they were like family looking out for you. So, yes, this stuff is "Big Brother"ish - but in the sense that you can look out for your family, not that the government can spy on you. You just have to look for the original meaning of the term.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:31PM (#6492429) Homepage
    Arrgh, it's the same old love/hate game again. Woz rocks, and I want him to succeed, but this little thing is exactly the kind of device that any number of unscrupulous/patriarchal legislators drool over.

    The arguments for and against such tracking devices have been hashed out several gazillion times here on /., so I'll spare the replay, but there's one important difference here: this is Woz. He's no starry-eyed upstart CEO or engineering student; he's one of geekhood's geekiest, and he knows what he's doing (certainly as far as the tech end of things are concerned.) I think that he stands a good chance of making this thing work. It's exciting and frightening to think about.

    Best of luck, Woz. Please be careful.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:31PM (#6492433)
    mwah ha ha ha

    1) Police put tracking devices on you... If anyone can get them, who's to say it was the police...

    2) A stalker plants one in the victim's purse...

    3) An election campaign plants them on the opposition's sign crew...

    4) Agents provocateurs carry them in protests, making it so much easier to co-ordinate them...

    5) You neighbour plants one on you, and calls the tipline whenever you happen to go through a bad neighbourhood, or near a mosque, hoping to get a reward...

    And many more...
  • Overreacting much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Prince_Ali (614163) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:31PM (#6492436) Journal
    I don't understand the need to go off on how a technology is "Orwellian." (First off actually learn what the book is about before stating everything is out of 1984) This technology is not bad. It has potentially bad uses, but that doesn't matter. Complain when those bad uses actually occur (they probably won't). The government is not going to say, "Look the guy from Apple computers made this thing... time to put it on everyone in the country without them knowing about it."

    I am aware that /. does not speak with one voice, but the general values expressed by its members are odd. If it is something that can be used for violating privacy (but hasn't) it is feared, but if something is used for piracy ALOT, it should be considered good regardless of the illegal nature of its use because it has non-infringing uses.

    By the way, children have no right to privacy from their parents.

  • No offense, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siskbc (598067) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:31PM (#6492439) Homepage
    You're also ignoring something here: We CONSENT to having these tags placed on something, and only what we want them placed on. No surprises here, and nothing's being tracked that we don't want tracked.

    ...that's obscenely naive. So what's stopping me from putting one on your car and knowing everywhere you go? What if your wife does it? What if your boss does it? See, there's nothing at all that implies consent here.

    I'm sure Woz was trying to do something cool, and believe me I would love to know where my fscking keys and remote are like everyone else, but there are some more nefarious uses that will be among the first applications for the device.

  • by xThinkx (680615) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:32PM (#6492447) Homepage

    Just like everything Woz comes up with, I don't think it's fair to call this a "good" or a "bad" thing yet.

    Right away I'm sure the privacy guys are jumping up and down, and I can't say I blame them. This chip would make it a complete bitch to hook class and/or work.

    BUT at the same time, it'd be real nice to hide one of these suckers in my car (I know lowjack exists, but from the article it appears this tech will deliver much better performance) in case it would get stolen. Throwing these things in handhelds and laptops could also be a godsend. Hey, those things are about the size of a keychain, no more looking for your keys ever again.

    Again, it's not possible now, or maybe ever to render judgment on this technology. However, Woz better be damn sure to regulate who can and can't locate said devices (how many men want their wives/girlfriends to know their every moves?). 100 years from now we'll look back at Woz as one of the great innovators of our time

  • by hobbesmaster (592205) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:32PM (#6492453)
    Its parents like you that give us high school geeks social status. ;)
  • by BWJones (18351) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:32PM (#6492459) Homepage Journal
    when someone mentions RFIDs, everyone gets all up in arms about it, but when it's Steve Wozniak behind them (these things are basically an advanced form of RFIDs and can be used in much the same way), it's wahoo! go woz! you rock man!

    RFID's are a tool. As such they can be useful or they can be abused just like any other tool. (cars, pharmaceuticals, guns, databases etc...etc...etc...). What Woz has done is created a paradigm whereby individuals can harness the power of this technology to enable their lives through their own choice as opposed to RFID technology being used without permission or knowledge.

    You go Woz!

  • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Troed (102527) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:34PM (#6492472) Homepage Journal
    This is a very bad thing. Kids _should_ be able to "sneak out" - it's part of growing up.

    Overprotective parenting is extremely dangerous for a healthy upbringing.
  • Re:yay, tracking! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcg (82574) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:34PM (#6492485) Homepage
    I would guess that you don't have kids.

    Kids right to privacy from their parents ends where the parents responsibilities to ensure their safety and well being begin.
  • by thanq (321486) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:37PM (#6492520)
    The tags "will be able to generate alerts, notifying the owner by phone or e-mail message when a child arrives at school(...)

    I can BET that once those tags are out kids will figure out how to fool them. The simplest thing comes to mind right away.... Because the system tracks TAGS and not KIDS, young ones figure out a good scheme: give the tag to a "keeper" for few classes and then skip school. Once you come back, pick up the tag from the keeper and go home without attending school, all while the parents think their loved one is learning.

    Same thing with the dog... Bet someone soon would yell out:

    "Honey come quick, I think sparky died under this tree, he has not been moving for 4 hours already.." Just moments before learning that the tag lies in a pile of poo after Sparky ate it and then... well.. put it out throug the other end.

  • Re:yay, tracking! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:39PM (#6492551) Homepage Journal

    Kids right to privacy from their parents ends where the parents responsibilities to ensure their safety and well being begin.

    And children are not qualified to judge where this line is. Anyone who thinks that children's privacy shouldn't be subject to parental discretion is not a parent.

  • by alienhazard (660628) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:39PM (#6492554)
    although that question is off topic, i think it is a valid one. Looks like whoever posted the story could use some help categorizing things :P go ahead, mod me off topic too, i dont care.
  • How long..? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cspenn (689387) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [tsacdopdialaicnanif]> on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:40PM (#6492565) Homepage Journal
    And how long until WozNet becomes subpoena'd for records by the Department of Homeland Security?

    Yes, each cluster is locally administered, not by a large agency, but there's nothing saying that implementations of the pager/SMS/email must require cc:jashcroft@doj.gov...

    Food for thought.
  • Re:yay, tracking! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stienman (51024) <adavis.ubasics@com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:42PM (#6492597) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, because if my fictitious nine year old decides to have a nike symbol tattooed on his forehead for cool clothes without my permission, then he should be able to do that.

    I mean, come on. We can certianly trust children to make life altering and sometimes threatening decisions without our involvement.

    Parents have a hard enough time keeping their children alive and well until they are past puberty (the age of bad decisions) and a little into their more stable years without adding jibes about how kids today are not much more than slaves.

    I'm not saying I'd use Woz's service - I don't know, my children aren't old enough to be on their own. But you shouldn't dismiss it because it does have some potentially bad abuses.

    Of course, you might have a double standard there. Perhaps you think it's ok to have file sharing even though it can be used in the commision of crimes, but not an object tracking service because it could be used in the commision of crimes?

    I could understand your consternation if this tool only had bad uses, or was designed primarily for 'bad' purposes (ie, the handgun is a weapon whose primary design and use is killing or disabling human beings, but it does have other purposes, such as target practise so you can become better at killing humans instead of just disabling them - but it can be used in both offense and defense) but you can't claim that the service is a bad thing and will bring about Aldus Huxley's futurific version of reality.

    We are a tool using species. Don't bemoan the tool, bemoan the uses.

    -Adam
  • by lazira (651928) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:44PM (#6492628)
    Since when are we opposed to technology? Like freenet and every other technology, this has the potential for both good and bad use. Woz has proposed a perfectly legitimate use for tracking technology. If the government ever proposes tracking us with it, THEN we can start an uproar.
  • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Monday July 21, 2003 @02:52PM (#6492706) Journal

    Since when did the terms "convinence" and "Big Brother" get so confusing for people?

    Since 1984 was written.

  • by nordicfrost (118437) * on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:03PM (#6492818)
    Uh, no. Track what wants to be tracked. Don't wanna be tracked? Fin. Don't carry the Woznet device around with you. Want to have some privacy for a while? Leave it at home.
  • Re:Is this so bad? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Machine9 (627913) on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:07PM (#6492856) Homepage
    I don't know man, but maybe you could watch them?

    that's worked pretty well over the millennia...

  • by eggnet (75425) on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:10PM (#6492893)
    Because pedaphiles have a tough time finding vulnerable children today.
  • by bhawbaker (576764) on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:13PM (#6492925)
    how different is that from hiring a detective to track your wife which you can do now :)
  • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:16PM (#6492963) Homepage Journal
    "If you want your Libertarian minimal-government-involvment society (as many Slashdot posters/readers seem to)"

    No I don't. People can not even be trusted in Sims on line not to be jerks. I like laws. We just have to find the right balance.
  • by mickwd (196449) on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:16PM (#6492970)
    I can't imagine much that will make your children hate you more than treating older teenagers like this. Not to mention the amount of teasing and bullying by other kids you will be setting them up for.

    Please, let any kids you ever have live some sort of decent childhood.
  • Re:Is this so bad? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:17PM (#6492977)
    Heh, where are mod points when you need them?

    A little common sense goes a long way. I mean, what the hell kind of parent leaves their kid alone long enough that they can get two blocks away? Two blocks is no easy feat for a small child. She must have been unattended for at least 10-15 minutes. Where the hell were the parents?

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:24PM (#6493054) Journal
    Indeed. I think this should be under YRO rather than Apple.
  • by Llywelyn (531070) on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:33PM (#6493166) Homepage
    "...that's obscenely naive. So what's stopping me from putting one on your car and knowing everywhere you go? What if your wife does it? What if your boss does it? See, there's nothing at all that implies consent here. "

    The technology for this has been available for years, to the general public, just not in quite this nice or unified a form.

    I'm sure the tech isn't far behind to scan for these little bugs, so why worry?

    After all, big brother is watching, so there's no need to panic ;-)
  • Re:Is this so bad? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LoveMuscle (42428) on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:37PM (#6493216)
    I dunno. Maybe taking a crap, or taking a shower? Its not physically possible to "check on the kids" every 2 minutes for the next 8 years, and the little guys are faster than you'd think.

    I break to take a piss and my nephew (who isn't even walking yet) has managed to get out of the room, clear down the hall, and out the front door.. If you aren't watching them for more that 10 seconds they'd better be locked up somewhere or there gonna get out...

    You clearly haven't spend much time around children so, maybe you should STFU..

  • by matlokheed (602233) on Monday July 21, 2003 @04:14PM (#6493609)
    This is hard to make invasion of privacy out of. It's completely voluntary and that's what makes it non-evil.

    The initial thoughts from most people is for watching their children and I think it's amazing how many people think that's wrong. I know way too many parents who's burnout kids are their burnout kids because their parents weren't paying enough attention. Kids are stupid and unpredictable. When a friend's brother ran away from home with his underage girlfriend, I'm sure his parents would've loved one of these things. Or the other brother who was a druggie and would disappear for days on end, skipping school... you don't think this would have big advantages?

    This isn't the evil government watching us. It's on too small a scale and most importantly, it's voluntary. How would anyone organize the tracking into useful data? What if I switch around what I mark, so one week my keys are one tag and the next it's my bike... and then my cat.

    If it becomes government mandated, then yes, it becomes evil. But for now? What's the problem with it?

  • by Jeremi (14640) on Monday July 21, 2003 @04:26PM (#6493713) Homepage
    Double standards or what.


    Contrary to popular belief, there are multiple people with differing views posting to slashdot. Seeing these differing views expressed is NOT an indication of hypocrisy, it's an indication of diversity.

  • by sapped (208174) <mstore1@yahCOLAoo.com minus caffeine> on Monday July 21, 2003 @04:28PM (#6493743)
    Consider this: What if a paedophile managed to hack into the system, and then had instant access to the exact locations of thousands of children ? Maybe he can find one on their own, somewhere quiet.

    Consider this: Now the cops can use the GPS ID that you have just supplied to them and they can nail the guy immediately.
  • by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Monday July 21, 2003 @04:57PM (#6493990) Homepage Journal
    In 1984, the problem is not that the government knows what you're doing or not - it is that they are the only authority. They know more than anyone else, because they see more than anyone else. If everyone had access to the data, they could not lie or mislead the public about what is or is not going on.

    The truth is that nobody cares how many condoms you buy, but if they did, they could find out (or at least the government could). Credit card records, receipts, video, or just going through your trash.

    I don't want to live in an aquarium. And putting that aquarium out into the street instead of keeping it in an authorized-access-only place doesn't really help here.

    You do live in an aquarium - though the water may be a little murky, all's that's needed for a clear view is a little effort by the owner of the tank. The only reason you want that aquarium in a secure location is because you trust the government or you haven't considered the issue. That sounds like flamebait, but I don't mean it that way - if you can think of a response that doesn't fall into that category, I'd love to hear it.

    I'm actually NOT advocating putting cameras on every corner. But there are a lot of cameras around... What I am advocating is that everyone should have access to those cameras that are pointed at public spaces.
  • by Ahaldra (534852) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:25PM (#6494215) Homepage
    I think F. S. Fitzgerald once said:
    The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at once

    and still retain the ability to function.

    Apart from that, the picture of that WoZ-mark looks far bigger than these other evil 1mm RFID tags and are therefore far easier to detect. (so less likely to be used to invade your privacy)

  • Stop freaking out (Score:2, Insightful)

    by naner42 (687673) <naner AT naner DOT org> on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:26PM (#6494218)
    Many of you are riled up because it'll be used to track kids, whether they like it or not. IT'S NOT LIKE WE'RE PUTTING THESE THINGS IN A SUPPOSITORY COATED WITH SUPER GLUE AND ASKING OUR KIDS TO PICK UP THE SOAP! It's a removable device, not a subdermal implant.
    This would be great for backpacks, lunch boxes, etc. I used to leave my backpack in the library all the time then freak out. This has great aplications for college and high school campuses.
    Just like every other technology out there, it's got good and bad uses. You can argue which side outweighs the other until the cows come home but it won't do any good. If you like the idea: BUY IT. If you don't, spend your money on an aluminum foil leotard.
    And just like any other tracking device, you'll be able to find a "bug finder." If you think your ex-wife put one on your car, scan your car or take it to the local "Paranoia-Is-Us" and have them do it. Same thing for your underwear drawer or your red swingline stapler.
    For every technology invented, there will be counter-measures created and distributed.
  • by Suidae (162977) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:34PM (#6494280)
    I'd agree that stalking type uses are a potential drawback of locator technology, but I kind of lump it in there with the drawback of driving cars (you know, the whole dying-on-the-highway thing).

    The 'protecting the children from rapists' thing is a dumb argument anyway, the large majority of assults are by family members or other trusted non-strangers.

    Locator technology will be extremely useful, and as technology advances, difficult to avoid. It does kind of open up some sticky privacy issues, mostly if the locators are small enough to be easily hidden. Even if normal consumer devices advertised their presence to any scanner (allowing any person to scan their general area and remove unwanted locators) I can imagine that the government would be pretty keen to have their own version that didn't identify itself. These would both be useful from a law enforcement prespective (unubtrusive monitoring of probationary subjects, warranted tracking of suspects, etc), and easy to abuse if not handled pretty strictly, like wire taps.
  • by Zan Zu from Eridu (165657) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:58PM (#6494494) Journal
    I'm actually NOT advocating putting cameras on every corner. But there are a lot of cameras around... What I am advocating is that everyone should have access to those cameras that are pointed at public spaces.

    I think this is a very bad idea for different reasons. a) If these images become public domain, victims of rape, assault, etc. might find they have become some pervert's all time favorite moviestar. b) It might be very useful for criminal activity also. c) If you're worried about companies tracking your activities, realize you've just locked the kid in the candystore.

  • Re:I told you so! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by paganizer (566360) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .1evorgeht.> on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:51PM (#6494806) Homepage Journal
    I'm a lot more paranoid than the next guy (who IS out to get me, BTW), but given The Great Woz's history, I would be hard pressed to name someone I would trust MORE at the controls of a big brother type apparatus.
    Seriously, if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Donald Trump, etc started something like this, there would be no doubt in ANYONES minds that they had plans to take over the world.
    But Woz I can see doing this to keep kids safe, and not allowing the system to be abused.
    And no, I hate Mac.
  • by stmfreak (230369) <(stmfreak) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:51PM (#6494810) Journal
    I can BET that once those tags are out kids will figure out how to fool them. The simplest thing comes to mind right away.... Because the system tracks TAGS and not KIDS, young ones figure out a good scheme: give the tag to a "keeper" for few classes and then skip school. Once you come back, pick up the tag from the keeper and go home without attending school, all while the parents think their loved one is learning.

    Sure and the ruse goes on for weeks and the kid thinks they're soooo smart and have their parents fooled. Then mom gets a call from the principal asking why little-billy hasn't been attending home-economics for the last few weeks and the game is up. Mom does a surprise visit to school to check on billy and finds out that while his TAG is in home-economics, billy is not.

    Billy is now soooooo busted and his parents have learned that Billy is not the responsible little boy they thought he was, despite all his assurances. Privileges disappear and Billy has to work his ass off to make up for lost grace with the folks.

    Monitoring kids is not about Big Brother or just putting a hammer down on them, it's about monitoring their development into adults. It's about determining if your children are ready for life's next set of challenges, like car keys or extended curfews, or making their own decisions regarding money or friends.

    It's not to be confused with Big Brother snooping because it is individually applied, not one size fits all. Most importantly, kids eventually grow up, leave home and can throw off the leash. There is no light at the end of the tunnel with Big Brother spying on us.

    I would really like to have this sort of system for my children just so I know where they are. Not, "what are they doing" snooping, but in a, "I haven't seen billy in a while, I wonder if he's okay? Oh, he's on I-5 heading south, better call the police now" way of caring. Our kids blow through their curfew frequently. It would be nice to know whether to head South, North, East or West when we go out looking for them, or whose house to call. I can see this sort of thing actually increasing freedom of movement for children because the act of "reporting in" which they do so poorly, would be automatically taken care of by technology.

    And when they circumvent it, you know they're ready for one of those, "importance of trust" talks.
  • Re:Woz vs Joy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swordgeek (112599) on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:58PM (#6494850) Journal
    Hmm.

    I never said that I agreed with Bill's view that we Must Stop Research in some fields, for the very same reason that you stated: It's going to happen. You can't stop it. If you try to prevent it, then it will likely be developed by the WORST group to have that sort of power, whatever it is.

    That said, I do still believe that as technologists, we have a moral responsibility to at least look at the research we do. We can't stop it, but if we see the potential for danger, then we can potentially sidetrack it--push hard for development in the "good" ways, and development of the worst aspects will lag.

    It's an interesting problem. We can't stop technology from arriving, but we can't (or at least I can't) morally justify throwing up our hands and saying, "oh well--nothing we could have done." If technology--hell, ANYTHING--is going to be an asset to society, then we have to thoughtfully approach it from a social aspect.
  • Wozniak and Gibson (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TygerFish (176957) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:03PM (#6495258)
    The debate that arises from Steven Wozniak's company and its innovation is nothing new and neither are the debates surrounding it. The potential convenience applications that the device offers are swallowed up and ignored in the face of the device's obvious potential for applications in security and surveillance.

    The most intriguing aspect of all the back-and-forth in the debate is that it is not demonstrable that either side is wrong. What the article in the Times shows is only the prototype of a short-range locator device with the potential for information transfer.

    As an examination of William Gibson's work reveals, the problem is one of increasing efficiency and efficacy in that as the technologies behind the technology become more sophisticated--as the devices become smaller and achieve greater range, information-transfer potential and ubiquity--their potential usefulness and their potential for danger can only increase.

    William Gibson's main perception in one of his least-enjoyable stories, 'The Gernsbach Continuum,' contains the central idea of his one of his most important themes: 'the street finds it's own uses for things.'

    Gibson's greatest perceptions is that technical innovations in the use and shaping of society in unpredictable ways that the creators of the technology can't foresee and can't consider as the humble telephone pager illustrates.

    Originally, the pager allowed busy people to whom other people needed access to get out of their offices and hospitals. It freed doctors and lawyers to either live more life or get more done. The unpredictable, socially transformative downside of the technology entered into the equation the moment it became available to the masses.

    Among the many changes that the spread of pager technology made was that it made drug-dealers a lot safer and set the police new problems: instead of having to stay in one place where they and their contacts could be subject to observation or chained to specific telephone landlines that could be tapped by law-enforcement agencies, the pager cut the link between the drug-dealer and his territory and allowed street-level dealers to arrange meetings with their clients in locations of their own choosing.

    This phenomenon was the source of a small but very real transformation in society as the rise of cheap pagers changed things. A block of Motorola circuitry in a casing, changed society; it changed the notion of presence and absence and leisure time and physical distance. It changed the law and investigative procedure, the notion of privacy and tens of other things that no one had any tiniest inkling might spring up from using radio receivers attached to a POTs telephone system to transmit phone numbers.

    As it concerns the debate here, it is easy to see that the notes talking about pedophiles are actually a valid cause of concern as are a thousand other things that are just as wonderful as the police's finding a lost child and just as dangerous as a pedophile's doing the same that we'll just have to wait for.

  • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by carambola5 (456983) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:27PM (#6495728) Homepage
    Kids will always find ways to outsmart their parents. It's called progress!

    First of all, we are forgetting the rule that kids are always smarter than their parents when it comes to computers. Always. Next, enter the fact that kids could construct their own nets and attach a tag somewhere underneath their parents' cars.

    Can you say "proximity alert"? Works a helluva lot better with a range of 1 or 2 miles compared to hearing the garage door open.
  • by crazyhorse44 (242315) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:39PM (#6495788)
    Imagine the possibilities for pimps:

    monitor all your hos... know when they're working it and when you need to go put the smack down. plus you can tell how many cars they got in and how much they need to be coughing up once you roll past in your Caddy.
  • 6) I'll not have to worry so much about losing my keys.

    7) A group of people in a forest will be able to stay together easier, and thus be able to explore more.

    8) Pets could be less likely to be lost.

    9) Marathon runners could be tracked by audiences.

    10) Parents could keep track of young kids in a store.
  • by plover (150551) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:24PM (#6500392) Homepage Journal
    As parents of a fifteen year old son, my wife and I have found the best mechanism for addressing all of this are the same mechanisms our parents used: raise him well enough that we can trust him, and smart enough to avoid problems. Sure, I expect he's going to do something very stupid before he's 18 (or he won't do enough growing up,) but our hope is that the damage won't be permanent. So far, we've been very pleased with the results. He's a great kid, very responsible, very smart, and not a social leper (but definitely a geek-in-training.)

    We gave him a cell-phone for his 15th birthday, but haven't placed any "you must answer under penalty of X" restrictions on him. It's mostly so he can call us if he feels like he's in trouble or in over his head. The only real use we've gotten out of it so far is that he can call us to give him a ride after the movie's over.

    I personally think the promise of child-tracking devices are highly overrated; sales are driven by FUD news stories of "molesters" and "kidnappers". It's way better to keep an eye on your kids when they're little, and raise children you can trust when they're older.

The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.

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