Circle

Excerpts from Circle, the movie

4 min read    23 Jul 2017    

So I was just watching the Circle today, where Emma Watson (Hermione) plays (presumably) a dumb internet user, not realising the implications of being tracked. Her character suggests adding tracking to everything, which is a real hazard. To give you a perspective of where I’m coming from, I use google, I know google constantly tracks my data, and facebook does too. And I’m okay with it. Because I know what security risks that implies.But everyone should be okay with it only after knowing what it has to imply. The movie suggests making voting mandatory. That is right. But you cannot force someone to vote, even if that’s their duty to the country. I’m all for being open and transparent, but there is something you need to know. Say, in the distant future, some AI takes over Google’s database and now knows everything that there is to you. How long would you last if this very AI decides to get rid of you?

I told my cousin once you shouldn’t use Google Photos to save your photo, because then google can essentially do whatever they want to do with it, say train their models for facial recognition; use them in training models, etc. She just replied, “I don’t have anything to hide. So I don’t mind”. No, but you should mind. Just because you have nothing to hide does not mean you should openly reveal everything to the world. Now, there have been a lot of people in my immediate vicinity who have shifted to duckduckgo (it’s a browser that does not track your data), but I refuse to do that because google’s search engine is pretty darn better than it. But there were some instances that led me to be all the more concerned:

  • Facebook recently started their recommended section and a “video you may like” section. Now, I’m fat. So I might hace looked up some things on the internet as to how to reduce weight. A recommended video was “how to burn fat” or something similar. This got me concerned. This would mean facebook tracks what posts I click on, what I engage with, everything.
  • A friend of mine shared his story with me. He suggested someone else to use bigrock for hosting a website on messenger. Having never actually searched for bigrock, he was promptly shown an ad for their page on facebook. Another friend of mine who was completely unaware of heroku, after being asked to google heroku, showed me an an ad for the same within 5 minutes.
  • I was in a new place for 2 months, so I had to use Google Maps a lot. It’s a great app. But later I realised, whenever I turn on GPS, google knows what place I am in right now. This is a major security risk. I have almost stopped using maps after this for extended periods of time.
  • Searching for Headphones on Amazon for 10 minutes, promptly shown an ad for headphones. On instagram. 3 weeks after I had already made a purchase. Does Amazon think I have a hobby for buying expensive headphones every day?

The security implications are real. I will definitely be limiting my use of facebook, amazon, and maps after this. [Nope, still not shifting to duckduckgo. Google’s search engine is tough to beat. Altough creepily when I am watching a youtube video and search something related to it, google almost knows what I am going to type based on only 2 letters and an open youtube tab.]

Also, in a weird way, this movie made me realise how entitled or smart some HR people feel, when clearly they are wrong. Watch Silicon Valley HBO’s episode when Pied Piper first move to a big office with cooks and HR people. You’ll understand.

It is also important to understand that the fact that someone who does not accept your idea, or does not agree with you is wrong. We should be okay with denial. Else, it would be peer pressure/ mob rule. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you does not mean you do not value their opinion. This would lead to just filling your circle (no pun intended) with yespeople, who offer no real feedback to your ideas, or actions.

This is just a rant of the movie I’m seeing at this point.

There’s such a low acceptance rate of convicted felons in the world. A person who has committed a crime in the past is later only identified with that one act, which they themselves might regret doing. This could lead them to taking their own lives, like in Shawshank Redemption.

There is a complete disregard of privacy these days. People just take out their cameras to record every thing that’s happening right now. I remember going to Jammu and Kashmir 7 years ago. Whenever I used to draw out the new digital camera, my mother distinctly point out - “ It’s more important that you retain it in your mind, than in a camera”. Fast forward to the present, she herself takes a dozen photos when something worthwhile happens. Is this camera, revolution good or bad? I don’t know. I’m just here to point out.

So the movie proceeds with how Emma is being tracked, and people can tune in the broadcast and comment whatever they feel like. Some screenshots from the movie, which stand out.

“I’m so late to class and I’m wattching this instead”

“And that is really sad”

“Geeks in the sunlight”

“My grandma was funny but she died”

“Prologue of a disaster film?” - truely meta.

“Isn’t this the definition of mob rule?”

“No one at the Circle has kids.”

“No one loves me”

“Your priviledge is showing”

“You need to be rescued ?”

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