Privacy Forum Shows Regulators Challenges Posed by Technology
NEWS ANALYSIS: The Future of Privacy Forum brings together government officials from home and abroad to show them what they are up against when it comes to safeguarding personal privacy.WASHINGTON—At first the meeting at the Future of Privacy Forum headquarters downtown looked like any other office soiree here, one populated by Millennials and hipsters trying to impress each other with their real or perceived level of official access. But a second look changed that impression. Right behind the check-in desk was a massive flat screen television showing an image of each person as they arrived. Superimposed on each person’s image was a computer’s guess as to our demographics. Were we young or old? Male or female? I was identified as a woman under 30. A friend who works for USA Today was also identified as a woman, but to his annoyance, the computer decided he was over 40. Of course the gender-mangling computer was really there for another purpose, which was to show how far machines had come in determining the sort of person that was in its view finder. The idea is that marketers could get an idea about the makeup of people at an event to see if they were attracting the audience they hoped to attract.
Across the room from the ubiquitous beer-and-wine bar was a table with several aerial drones. Next to that a man was wearing an Oculus VR headset. There was also an Amazon Echo in the room, which I commanded to play some Mozart. There were radio frequency beacons and perhaps the creepiest interactive device ever seen—a Hello Barbie toy.