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Salon Six Notes

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Disclaimer: I'm writing these notes late, but aside from not remembering all the discussion topics, I'm not sure my list of attendees is very accurate.

Notes from Salon

Attending: Jocelyn, Claudia, Michael, Bergey, Talia, Dmitriy, Lisa, Tristram, Kate, Jimmy

We started with a discussion of the implications of AOL's recent release of a huge database of search queries for "research purposes" (and subsequent withdraw and apologies). The group sense was one of unsurprise at AOL's foolishness, and jaded acknowledgement of the dangers of corporate information gathering. Comments included:

The NSA may have the resources to use that information, but we can take comfort in the inability of corporations to analyze the huge mass of data to a level that infringes on our liberties.

Everyone understands that the internet is public. This sparked a brief discussion of the participatory panopticon: our lives are set to change hugely as our lives are recorded under the public eye.

There was a brief discussion of making a sensory deprivation chamber at ESG. We'll have to revisit that one.

Tristram introduced the problem of spin: if we are so easily led to believe different ethical conclusions out of the same facts based on the way that their presented or when we see them as entertainment, what reason do we have to believe that we have any ethical compass? Comments included:

Our ability to identify with people even when they do things we wouldn't is a feature to our credit.

Just because we don't always respond from our ethical principles, it doesn't mean that we don't have them when we want them.

The question doesn't sufficiently distinguish the different effects of context (our relation to the information) and our limited knowledge of the information.

Claudia said she didn't understand time, so we discussed the metaphysical underpinnings of time, and decided we didn't understand it, per se, either. Our memory and our experience cannot justify a conception of time. This led to a discussion of lucid dreams: the uses and lack of sense of controlling ones dreams, and whether we were all dreaming.

As things were breaking up, we discussed a project Claudia and I have started to create community-edited ideas.