Saturday, November 3, 2012

Many Agent Smiths on social media

Do you remember agent Smith from the Matrix?  In the movie, Agent Smith has a special power to hack the Matrix and turn anyone into a carbon copy of himself.  In effect, he is present wherever any one is present, and can monitor people at will.


As improbable as it may have sounded in 1999 when the movie Matrix was released, we are effectively surrounded Agent Smith when we walk down any city street.  Thanks to cellphone cameras and Facebook, we are now living in an era where anything that you do in presence of others can be recorded and posted on social media site.

Here's a case in point.  Take a look at this video:

This video was uploaded after San Francisco Giants won its 2012 World Series championship.  The night that Giants won its championship, celebration in the S.F. downtown got out of hands, and a handful of people vandalized Muni bus and set it on fire.  Soon there were many videos capturing this incident uploaded to social media, and police was able to track down the suspect to bring him in the custody.

We don't have one Big Brother.  What we have is many Agent Smiths among us who can whip out their smartphone and start recording the footage.  Just like Agent Smiths they are all connected via social network to share information and act as single entity.

In this instance all Agent Smiths will be giving themselves a pat on their back for a job well done.  We should not tolerate wanton violence in our public space in the disguise of celebration.

But it should also raise some concerns.  With all the data that can be uploaded and shared on social network, who gets to decide who are legitimate criminals to go after?  Isn't the reason why we hear about this story is because it's something that everyone can agree on?  Who decides on the borderline cases, like government claiming that people lost their property right when they upload their files on the cloud?

Neo was considered silent public enemy by a few, and a few agents could effectively use the power of the network to track Neo down to kill him.

In other words, who watches the watchmen?

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