Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Controlling new technology

I've always been fascinated with our attempts to control or regulate things we can't see... like radio waves/frequencies.

Also from the NY Times: "The Defense Department, arguing that an increasingly popular form of wireless Internet access could interfere with military radar, is seeking new limits on the technology. WiFi use is increasingly heavy in major American metropolitan areas, and similar systems are becoming popular in Europe and Asia. As the technology is installed in millions of portable computers and in antennas in many areas, industry executives acknowledge that high-speed wireless Internet access will soon crowd the radio frequencies used by the military. But industry executives say new types of frequency spectrum sharing techniques could keep civilian users from interfering with radar systems. The debate, which involves low-power radio emissions that the Defense Department says may jam as many as 10 types of radar systems in use by United States military forces, presents a thorny policy issue for the Bush administration."

This raises interesting ontological and epistemological questions around the visible and invisible. As more and more technologies become "invisible" (i.e. pervasive and ubiquitous) we will require different (more flexible?) means to understand notions of interface and to locate accountability in the design and use of new technologies.

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