protecting against the risk of self-incrimination through our smartphones
but neglected the far-greater risk the
more pervasive Internet of Things (Io T)
poses to our personal liberty and the
future of global e-commerce.
Io T can be traitorous in two ways: to
their users by acting against their interests by exploiting sensitive personal
information and to freedom of global
e-commerce by motivating nations to
prohibit the use of Io T connected to
foreign-domiciled data centers due to
threats of foreign mass surveillance.
In particular, future holographic-type glasses, or “hologlasses,” could
be used against their users in ways
more insidious than smartphones
are today, as discussed by Wicker.
Hologlasses promise all the functionality of today’s smartphones—
but without the disadvantage of having to look down while holding the
device. The world’s largest computer
companies have publicly discussed
their expectation that hologlasses
could be in use at the scale of today’s
smartphones by 2030.
Moreover, hologlasses promise
many applications that are inherently
impractical through smartphones
alone. For example, they likely will include facial recognition to instantly tag
people a user might encounter, providing real-time relevant background
information, including even ongoing analysis of their emotional states.
Some police officers in China are already using early-model hologlasses
with facial recognition to nab those in
a police database as they walk by.
A backdoor in hologlasses could
enable a “we see and hear what you
see, hear, and do” capability to provide extraordinary insight into a user’s
private thoughts. Protection against
self-incrimination through hologlasses could become a contentious
legal (and political) issue, way beyond
Wicker’s discussion of smartphones.
Beyond threats of personal self-incrimination, defending against the
threat of foreign mass surveillance
could also make freedom of global
NEIL SAVAGE DESERVES praise for his informative overview of recent computational re- sults related to Nash equi- librium in his news story
“Always Out of Balance” (Apr. 2018).
I fully agree that the notion of Nash
equilibrium does not always reflect
how competitors behave in competitive situations, and that the fact that
Nash equilibrium is provably computationally intractable makes it less
useful than John Nash himself might
have envisioned when he developed
it. However, Savage also overstated
(somewhat) the effect of intractability
by claiming the intractability of computing Nash equilibrium necessitates
researchers abandon this notion in favor of other competition-related ideas.
While looking for Nash equilibrium yields additional computational complexity, the decision-making
problem is, in general, already computationally intractable (NP-hard) for
non-competitive situations (such as
when a company makes internal planning decisions). In doing so, a company would be looking for an optimal
solution (such as one that would aim
to help produce maximum profit),
but computational optimization is,
in general, NP-hard. Such computational intractability does not mean researchers have to abandon the idea of
optimization and look for other ideas.
Many real-life problems are NP-hard
(such as robotic movement) and what
makes working on them such an intellectual and computational challenge.
Indeed, there is no general feasible
algorithm (unless P = NP), so computer scientists need to be creative when
designing algorithms for specific
Vladik Kreinovich, El Paso, TX, USA
Beware the Internet
of Traitorous Things
Stephen B. Wicker’s Viewpoint “
Smartphones, Contents of the Mind, and
the Fifth Amendment” (Apr. 2018) correctly pointed out the importance of
When to Hold ‘Em
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