Marketising Climate Change


In this article, I review the newly formed Coalition’s agenda to repeal the carbon pricing scheme implemented by the Clean Energy Bill 2011, and the policy program of the Clean Energy Plan. These actions are subsidiary to a broader political attack upon the doctrine of State-based initiatives to regulate climate change. It is perhaps most clearly manifested in their initial actions to repeal the Clean Energy Bill, as well as abolishing three agencies incentivising renewable electricity production in Australia: the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the Climate Change Authority (CCA), and the Climate Commission (CC).

That the political debate has moved on from the question of climate change to its solution is worth interrogation, but not within the scope of this article. Instead, by focusing specifically on the interactions of these agencies with potential energy markets a single thread of the debate is analysed debate while contextualising the relevant political components.

…should the policy platform produce the results anticipated by the Coalition, it would be remiss to suggest that it was due entirely due to market forces

Political Climate

Broadly speaking, the political division over climate change falls upon the Clean Energy Plan. The polarisation centres not upon climate change and denial, but the application of political ideology as to the best means to address it. The Coalition’s policy reflects a neoliberal scepticism towards government regulation, deferring instead to market-mechanisms. In counterpoint, the Clean Energy Plan exemplifies a rejection of the market alone as the means for resolution, and places incumbency upon the State to induce sufficient change.

The Clean Energy Plan is and its attendant carbon pricing is a policy program responding to anthropogenic climate change, synthesising the disciplines of environmental sciences and political economy. It emerged after a failed attempt by the Rudd government to secure an Emissions Trading Scheme, and a subsequent compromise through the hung parliament under Gillard. It implicitly entails a classical economic approach that reconciles government agenda with environment concerns, and attempts to model its program on economic rationality. This necessarily filters the debate of climate change through economic discourse, by emphasising the nature of emissions as externalities. Implicit in this position is a contention that the market cannot respond rationally to climate change, and requires government intervention (see such claims as made in this book). Typically such critiques claim that market mechanisms cannot internalise emissions because individual choices within the context of market forces are subject to profit seeking over public interest.

The counter-argument lauds the capacity of market forces in selecting for environmentally sound practices: as the externalities of the environment increase social costs, and as these demands become increasingly urgent, industry and technology are able to respond with a solution by sheer dint of the demand. In this light, the Clean Energy Plan has been criticised on a number of fronts, including an inability to realise its ideals due to economic sleight-of-hand, which prevented incentivisation; another being a failure to engage with the populace on the significance of the carbon price, beyond how it impacts on the daily cost of living. These two arguments are exemplar of climate change denialism that rejects the potential thread of a Malthusian catastrophe, as exemplified in the works of Lomborg. These critiques effectively accuse the Clean Energy Plan of environmental authoritarianism (for example).

Power Dynamics

Having laid the groundwork of these political divisions, the contentions between market-mechanisms and State-based mechanisms become much more apparent. The ‘Carbon Tax’ is easily the most visible component of State-based instruments, and the principle focus of the Coalition’s actions. However, where we see additional complications and nuances on these issues is the Coalition’s focus on the abolishment of the climate change agencies.

Firstly, the CEFC’s principle mandate was the subsidisation of renewable electricity innovation: in the last year the CEFC managed to invest $560 million in projects, including the Moree solar farm and the Taralga wind farm. Moreover, the CEFC has laid claim to having encouraged an additional $1.6 billion worth of private investment towards clean energy projects. Incoming Climate Action Minister, Greg Hunt, has critiqued the CEFC of being a green hedge fund, “borrowed in taxpayers’ name for investing in speculative ventures” . It is worthwhile noting that such actions and positions are perfectly in line with the neoliberal sentiment of deregulating interference with the market.

The predominant form of electricity production in Australia is coal, comprising 77.2% of the country’s total electricity production

However, the issue is not as reductive as there are other political and commercial interests relevant to these changes; not the least of which is the significance of Australian coal. The predominant form of electricity production in Australia is coal, comprising 77.2% of the country’s total electricity production in 2003. Though different States and Territories have specific energy policies, the aggregate cost of most electricity production is based on the price of coal at the power station: coal also constitutes one of Australia’s principle energy exports to China. So the question remains that if State-based mechanisms are removed to incentivise change and Australia is economically dependent on the coal industry, will market-mechanisms alone be sufficient to achieve the government’s mandated renewable energy targets for 2020. If critiques hold true, then deregulation will simply expose a vulnerable environmental system to greater intrusion by market mechanisms, which cannot redress the issue. If the neoliberal vision holds true, then the market should reach a point of equilibrium as the burden of environmental degradation affects consumer choices.

There are two principle issues that will significantly play into this: the first is the cost of peak coal production, and the latter is the tipping point of solar power energy production. Currently there are a series of predictions suggesting that the production of solar powered electricity may become equivalent to conventional fossil fuel production. That Germany has taken a significant lead in adopting solar powered energy production, and thus growing the global solar market. There is also predictions of the decline of the global coal market, with Citi analysis predicting coal consumption in China could peak as early as 2014. Equally compelling, there is some evidence that renewable energies are gaining confidence in the US market, to the point of being considered reliable. This competition of solar and coal energy markets is made even more pertinent in Australia, as the Climate Commission revealed a significant uptake of solar panels.

To suggest these changes signal the success of the neoliberal vision is flawed, particularly in context of these competing energy markets.

To suggest these changes signal the success of the neoliberal vision is flawed, particularly in context of these competing energy markets. Neither of these energy markets has changed significantly without some form of government intervention. In 2012, the Chinese government invested $68 billion into renewable energy, making it a leader of that investment. In comparison, Germany and its production of solar power is more difficult to determine. At first glance, Germany seems to depict a narrative of a staunchly pro-nuclear power leading changes to become the world’s top photovoltaic installer. However, some later commentary predicts the burst of the solar bubble, and Lomberg specifically critiquing the policy project as being economically unsustainable. While a genuine economic critique is far beyond the scope of this essay, it is reasonable to say that neither the reduced cost of solar power in Germany nor the peak consumption of coal in China are purely the consequence of market mechanisms.

Due to the vagaries of both China and Germany, it is far too early to predict the success or failure of the Coalition’s policy platform to respond to the issue of climate change through a high dependency on market mechanisms. Moreover, should the policy platform produce the results anticipated by the Coalition, it would be remiss to suggest that it was due entirely due to market forces, which are merely capitalising on opportunities produced through contrary political economic agendas.


Technology: the Modern Prometheus

In this article I examine the question of how intrinsically related innovation is to growth. The question is one of environmentalism because it intends to help demonstrate why we seem to consistently position issues of environmentalism through economic lenses. It’s not a perfect argument, because the approach is intended to make broad sweeping generalisations rather than a highly nuanced analysis of all the specifications.

In part, by asking this question, I am actually trying to detangle the philosophy of Prometheism from neoliberalism. As Prometheism isn’t a concept that enjoys a lot of public analysis, it is necessary to outline a few basis points. In doing so, it may seem self-evident as to why it leads to neoliberalism, and the task then becomes one to demonstrate that it is merely a necessary but not sufficient predicate.

Moreover, I wish to argue that Prometheism just as easily lends itself to economic agendas on the other side of the spectrum, including Marxism, but the end point one takes is very much an issue of one’s view on (economic) justice.

The teleology of human innovation is a powerful narrative that can be co-opted for either particular economic endgame (whether Marx or Fukuyama), and used to justify itself in seemingly self-evident ways.

Prometheism: Stealing Fire

The first myth of Prometheus is an Ancient Greek one, wherein a Titan stole the fire of the Olympians and gave it to Man [sic]. This is an allegory for taking the spark of innovation from the heavens. It has come to represent the idea of humanity successfully challenging the status quo set by divinity and often alludes to an element of hubris. Not so for its eponymous philosophy.

The central premise of Prometheism is one that vaunts human innovation, and does so in such a way that it predicts that human innovation will provide a solution either leading up to or as a result of any major crises we may encounter. Specifically, it often positions itself against arguments denouncing economic growth, which claim that unlimited growth will lead to a catastrophic environmental collapse. Its response is that the potential power of human ingenuity and ability to provide technological solutions far surpasses the magnitude of these issues.
One of the best ways to see this dialect is through a comparison of these following videos, first Paul Guilding’s ‘The Earth is Full’. Followed by Peter Diamandis ‘Abundance is Our Future’.

Both provide a vision of the eventual trajectory of human development, one suggesting that the only genuine way to preclude a catastrophic environmental failure is through a steady-state economic system, the other suggesting that any limits to growth will ultimately hinder humanity’s potential to discover a solution by strangling resources. In essence, the position that vaunts human innovation to provide technological solutions seems to require access to as many resources as we can provide for research.

This is a position argued strongly by such theorists like Lomborg who takes the apparently next logical step to suggest that there is no environmental crisis, “The Truth about the Environment”. A position that was iterated by other historic economists like Simon in his work, the Ultimate Resource, which places human ingenuity as a far more valuable resource than most natural resources. It was the thinking of Simon that underscored the attempts to combat ‘radical environmentalism’ articulated in Reagonomics and Thatcherism.

Technology with a big T

The reason that I consider these arguments to be falsely equivalent, that growth is inextricably linked with innovation, is because it begins with an economic premise and imposes that regime onto a technological impetus. By this I mean to allude to the way we have collectively invested some kind of agency into a shared notion of Technology and what it does for our society. That this ideal is deeply implicated, and even integrated, into almost every aspect of Western society. It is this social constructivist view of technology that makes me capitalise the word: to separate Technology as phenomenon as it interacts with society, rather than to describe an assemblage of objects and devices that humanity creates.

Technology is composed of a number of artifacts, objects and instruments that humanity has created towards a particular purpose, but whose very nature we have imposed a particular meaning upon.

Technology is composed of a number of artifacts, objects and instruments that humanity has created towards a particular purpose, but whose very nature we have imposed a particular meaning upon. As a type of technology becomes ubiquitous its meaning is subsequently replicated throughout our society until it becomes invisible. We cease to make a conscientious connection between the two and start to unconsciously associate them. In certain extreme cases, the value we attribute to an artifact can excite and even elicit strong emotions from us, to the point where the artifact is fetishised. We need look no further than the Apple Cult for a recognisable example.

As Technology comes to represent the aggregate aspirations of human innovation, it foments an implicit teleology into the ideal it represents. Technology becomes embedded into nearly every aspect of our environment (social and physical), even serving as an intermediary for our socialisation. It begins to shape our fundamental experience of being human and lends itself to some notion of a shared manifest destiny, which is purportedly realised through humanity’s innovation.

Such notions reinforce the value of things from a humanocentric point of view (or even technocentric). Not to say that a humanist perspective is bad, but that in terms of making assessments about Technology, it comes pre-packaged with its own value system. This makes it difficult to decouple any notion of technology from a human framework. This tends to position Technology in line with human progress, and against a commonly held view of Nature. It places technology (and human capacity) in opposition to the environment, creating a crude dialectic between them. However, any conceptualisation of Nature is just as much an imaginary construct as Technology: they are both the result of humanity ascribing particular qualities onto a complex system.

The Economics of Environmentalism

I briefly mentioned how one side of the debate lent itself to Reagonomics and Thatcherism. I mention this because at the heart of this debate is how a given society responds to the systematic issues of and within the environment. Environmentalism as part of a counter-cultural movement is a decidedly Western phenomenon, positioning itself against State authority and a lack of corporate accountability. Outside the West, socio-cultural dispositions towards the environment are not politicised in the same way, and when they are they have often been a Western import.

This leads me to my next major point, being that almost entirely our sense of environmentalism is couched in economic terms. In part, this is because it is a political agenda, meaning is it a social product, and in part because it seems to be the closest type of systematic rationality we can apply to its issue. I say this, because on both sides of the debate (whether stable-state or unfettered growth), the arguments seemed to have started with an economic position, and worked their way back to the environmental system. That is, both neoliberalism and Marxism are world views of an economic nature, each predicated on a set of values. Those values can roughly be reduced to the fundamental concepts of liberty and equality respectively.

From these original positions, a kind of economical reasoning allows its relevant proponents to extrapolate a political regime of a just society and does so in such a manner as to bury the original dialectic far from sight. This was the dialect of the Cold War: iterated and reified through politics and societies; the collapse of the Soviet Union prompting the pronouncement of the victory of liberal democracy (read neoliberalism) by Fukuyama. Though hardly an original contention for student of international relations, we are now twenty years on and our retrospection of this becomes increasing removed and academic.

Let us re-examine the Western response to the environmental protests of the 60s and 70s, one that was almost Weberian in its approach. During this period we see a State treat radical environmentalism as being equivalent to the imposition of Communism, and subjected to a kind of new McCarthyism; a Green Scare if you will. The State response was much more subtle, by instating environmental ministries, by bureaucratising environmental issues, it was able to systematise the issue and placate a public demanding a response as a kind of governmentality. However, like many Western state-led environmental initiatives, the actual outcomes of any given program have often fallen far from their purported objects.

Rational Discord

If you’ve followed the monologue so far, I have attempted to demonstrate that both Technology and Nature are vulnerable to the constructivist black box. That we can interact with these things, but we cannot fundamentally know them independently of the meaning we already impose upon them. In doing so, we tend to arrive at notions of both the environment and technology with predispositions towards them.

I have also attempted to demonstrate many of the arguments and approached towards engaging with the environment are informed by underlying economic ontologies. So while on the surface the debate seems to be a contention between Technology (that human innovation is our greatest resource and therefore it should be unlimited) and Nature (that nature is a finite natural resource and therefore humanity’s impact upon it should be regulated), in reality they are built upon much more fundamental issues about how we, as societies, should organise economically: whether more towards an entirely unregulated market with an ultimate goal of prosperity (neoliberalism), or more towards a heavily regulated market that removes many individual liberties for a greater good (Communism).

Prometheism: Love Your Monsters

The second part of this article explores the other main allegory making claim to the name Promethean, namely Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (or the Modern Prometheus). In her book, Dr Frankenstein uses (pseudo) science to defy the assumed natural order to revivify a dead body into an unnamed man. The scientific allegory is almost self-apparent, in a “What Has Science Done?” kind of way. Again, the parallel is one that science is humanity’s hubris against the natural order. Specifically, it is invoked in lieu of the precautionary principle.

It is to this notion that I return to one of the extrapolations of Prometheism that responds to this accusation of hubris, namely that we should love our monsters. In summary, the responding position claims that science, and all its artifacts are the consequences of human innovation; specifically that “Dr. Frankenstein’s sin was not his hubris to create life but rather his fright that led him to abandon rather than care for his creation”. In other words, it is something of an extension the original position advanced by the Prometheans. It argues that science itself provides its own solutions, and that our approach should be one of loving the works of our creation instead of abjuring them. However, there is a kind of rationality implicit in the scientific method, which doesn’t always translate into the political arena. Rather the rationality of any evidence-based position is almost always subsequently co-opted by an economic framework and it’s own particular rationality. That is, the scientific method is subsumed by rational choice theory (which means its findings are often subjected to the Tragedy of the Commons).

On Energy and Emissions

In the context of modern environmentalism, there are two core issues that are visited frequently. One reflects the source of our production (typically energy, but also acquisition of raw materials) and the other reflects the waste of our production (pollution). While there are a number of ways that these issues can be explored, the most prominent ones relate to energy, such as in renewable energy sources, and its almost directly related issue of emissions, such as in climate change. One side seeks to address what it considers to be a depletion of natural resources, and the other an impact on the environment we exist in. Rather than revisit the specifics of those debates (some of which is already alluded to in the growth vs stable-state debate above), I will instead highlight that both these debates are very frequently framed as economic issues. This is more true for energy than it is for emissions, and it is this comparison that I wish to use to help show why we tend to fall back on economic conceptualisations of the environment in order to address environmental problems.

Perhaps the most constantly visited argument relevant to energy production is its absence and our current societal dependency on a certain amount of energy production. The core issue at play is one of abundance. There is a certain amount of a resource that our society must acquire in order to produce or perform baseline functions. As the population increases, and as more of the global population modernises and industrialises, the amount of energy required increases. According to the International Energy Agency, the average energy used per person in the last decade increased by 10%, as the world population increased 27%. So the question of how much energy is available from our current sources is an important question, and one that very much aligns with some of the attendant issues with arguments for the limits of growth, viz. if there are finite energy resources then there cannot be infinite growth. Naturally, this tends to shift the burden of energy production to renewable energy sources, which are limitless (at least as far as our foreseeable future is concerned in any meaningful sense). That we are reaching a point where the production cost of solar energy (possibly our most abundant renewable energy) is able to challenge the production cost of fossil fuels. In 2008 energy power source for oil was 33.5%, coal was 26.8%, gas was 20.8% (meaning fossil fuel was a total of 81%), ‘other’ (hydro, peat, solar, wind, geothermal power, biofuels etc.) was at 12.9%, and nuclear was 5.8%. Oil and coal alone combined represented over 60% of the world energy supply in 2008.

If the production cost is the only relevant factor in changing our source of energy from a fossil fuel source, to something renewable or at least comparatively abundant and cheap like thorium and/or nuclear, or indeed the use of garbage to create fuel, those changes would be widespread. Lamentably, energy production contains other issues, including safety and emissions, which are much harder to reconcile into that equation. At this point, we naturally segue to the other half of this section: emissions.

This means that both types of initiatives [carbon pricing and emissions trading] depend intrinsically on using market forces for solutions, which necessarily frames environmental issues as economic problems first.

I won’t iterate the lengthy debates on climate change, but provide my agreement with the scientific consensus that climate change is real and very likely to be anthropogenic. Most of the major international programs that are seriously attempting to off-set climate change relate to market mechanisms, including pricing carbon or emissions trading. Both of these attempt to reconcile the externalities of emissions, by including them into the market. This means that both types of initiatives depend intrinsically on using market forces for solutions, which necessarily frames environmental issues as economic problems first. Thus, we come full circle.


So we return to my original challenge: that is that Prometheism isn’t inherently neoliberal. The above comparison of energy and emissions politics has proved useful for the last step of this argument. Specifically, it will show how both are issues relevant to human impact upon the environment, but that there is actually a distinction between matters of allocation and distribution (how resources are applied vs. who benefits from those resources).

One of the reasons why programs turn to market-like mechanisms to help resolve energy and emission problems is because of the real costs associated with those problems, whether that’s the production cost of energy or the externalities of emissions. The prevailing system of liberal democracy in the West means that any such broad and systematic program has to somehow reconcile the private benefits that we seek to acquire as consumers versus the public goods we hope to enjoy as public citizens. However, there is a very symbiotic relationship between the market and liberal democracy. So attempting to resolve the issue of environmentalism through this framework simply reinforces the idea that the market mechanisms will provide the solutions. I say this, not because I’m about to lead to rejection of market forces (and/or capitalism), but merely to reiterate how deeply entrenched they are in almost every aspect of Western culture (I am somewhat skeptical that we can actually engage with large complex systems without filtering it through an economic lens on some level, but that’s an article for another day).

Effectively, the innovation implicit to Prometheism might actually prove a means of achieving abundance, which would change fundamental assumptions of current modern economics, being scarcity.

The question remains: how would Prometheism potentially align with more socialist economic systems like Marxism? Simply put, because most of them also assume some kind of technological teleology, which will drive them towards a particular economic state. Effectively, the innovation implicit to Prometheism might actually prove a means of achieving abundance, which would change fundamental assumptions of current modern economics, being scarcity. Scarcity, holds that society attempts to balance human needs against the scarcity of material resources; a technology that produces energy sufficiently cheaply would reduce its production costs to a negligible cost, meaning it would be abundant for all practical considerations: thus, achieving post-scarcity status. Albeit, post-scarcity is still a live debate, being hailed alternatively as utopia and as a pipe dream. However, both these arguments seem to be reduced to either an acceptance or a rejection of an impending Malthusian catastrophe, which is itself the core contention of growth vs stable-state economics.

In summary, the teleology of human innovation is a powerful narrative that can be co-opted for either particular economic endgame (whether Marx or Fukuyama), and used to justify itself in seemingly self-evident ways.

Are MOOCs a Smart Investment?

Today’s article is actually a research paper on the comparative economic benefits of forms of eLearning and base funding within the higher education sector in Australia.

You can download the brief here:

eLearning Economics

You are welcome to share this document, provided that it is linked back to this source.

Our evolution will be televised

Following my recent article, which explored the relationship between privacy and social media, I wanted to explore this issue from a slightly different angle. Apple will be introducing a kill-switch into the operating systems of its mobile devices this August. I find it interesting that the last time a smart phone kill-switch was mentioned, it elicited a significantly different response.

Namely, U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902 by Apple last year described an option to grant governments the ability intervene into wireless devices. Effectively, this patent could create an area-based kill-switch, which would impede the recording, collection, and transmission of media recorded through mobile devices. Why is the media much more forgiving this time around, and how much of this has to do with the purported use of the technology?

The abovementioned patent was ostensibly designed for socially permissible blackouts, such as for concerts, cinemas, and similar, but the explicit patent statement outlining potential use for covert police or government operations demonstrates this ability; one that could manage and control the dissemination of information from the emerging practice of ‘point-of-view’ media from the general population.

The fact that we have two such contrasting attitudes over similar technologies speaks more to our notions of security, than privacy. Accordingly, the article concerns itself with differences in public perception, particularly in relation to subtle issues around asymmetric privacy controls. To do so I will make a point of comparison with this technology and the impending distribution of Google Glass. Both devices entail an intrusion of privacy: Apple’s  intrusion is consigned to government control, while Google’s is consigned to the people.

I predict that in about five years, some of our fundamental notions of privacy will be continually contested, if not substantially rewritten.

The Price of Information

To understand the importance of this comparison, I will detail a few issues on the business models of Google and Apple. However, rather than rehashing this particular debate, I will extract a few salient points and synthesise them here. For a more detailed background information, I recommend this article by Forbes.

Roughly speaking, Google’s business model profits from advertisement revenue, and most of its products are designed to be as open as possible to maximise usage. Contrast this with Apple’s model, which profits directly from product purchases through a proprietary store of devices and applications, and therefore seeks to create brand loyalty within a closed iWorld.

These deeply contrasting models produce divergent behaviours. It is a principle reason behind Apple wanting to tether its software platforms to Apple devices, and why Google wants to make its platform as available as possible on whatever device necessary. Both of these models suggest something about how their organisations wish to exploit the commercial value of (personal) information. Apple’s imperative is the containment of particular information, including data and applications, within a closed ecosystem. So their practice is one of protectionism, but in a manner that ostensibly autopoietic. Conversely, Google’s imperative is the deregulation of information usage and custody, which is why its practice is one of ubiquity, for the broadest possible penetration of its market reach.

The Augmentation of the Gaze

It is very easy to make Orwellian comparisons of Apple’s new patent, because giving government the capacity to control the flow of personally acquiredinformation  holds the overtones of a Big Brother in the vein of Orwell’s seminal Nineteen Eighty-Four (a point of high irony considering Macintosh’s equally seminal launch video during the 1984 Superbowl). In fact, it is the seemingly self-evident nature of this technology’s oppressive potential that is pertinent. That is, while the Apple technology was signified as an imposition on our public experience and our civil liberties, the same could be said of Google Glass, and yet the Glass technology does not seem to evoke the same public outcry.

Now granted, there are some adverse reactions to the launch of Google Glass, including privately owned establishments banning them from their premises, similar to the prohibition of other recording devices. However, the immense popularity of the device has managed to produce a demand long before there was a supply, suggests that these concerns are a dissenting minority. Furthermore, some of the running commentary has already observed that the potential for Google Glass to intrude upon our privacy is far more pervasive. It is this ubiquity that is exemplar of the Google model, because it has the possibility of creating a true panopticon: making every observer simultaneously the subject of observation. This dissemination of technology is ultimately in Google’s interests; this reflects Google’s business model as it means much more personal information is made available to be mined.

One of the most blatant ways to demonstrate the distinctiveness of this intrusion is to compare the device to Apple’s competition device, the iWatch. Both are intended to be wearable smart computers, but the difference is that Glass are affixed directly onto our subjective point of view. My conjecture is that the very fact that the observational device is mounted upon our gaze is what renders it invisible.

That is to say that there is already a native social context for person-to-person observation, and we actually have an implicit expectation to be the subject of another person’s attention. To piggy-back a sensory device upon a socially acceptable form of scrutiny obscures the intrusive nature of that technology. The iWatch, in comparison, requires a mode of interaction that does not naturally integrate into unspoken forms of social communion; its intrusion would be much more apparent.

My conjecture is that the very fact that the observational device is mounted upon our gaze is what renders it invisible.

The Asymmetry of Information

I contend that the reason the Apple technology appears more intrusive is because it reveals a mechanism of control, rather than because it is an actual intrusion: indeed, one could reasonably argue that the shutting down of information gathering in a public sphere is the amelioration of intrusion. What provokes concern is the way the Apple technology enables a governmental body to control the media we collect through our private devices. It signals a type of complacency with the brokering of power and control over our experience of liberty, even when they relate to the impact of our personal actions in public.

Rather, I suspect we frame the visceral experience of insecurity this technology evokes as a sense of intrusion, which we then articulate as an invasion of privacy because it readily maps onto that concept. I also suspect that the objection relates to the asymmetry of information control, more than the intrusion of privacy. However, the issue of custody of personal information and the issue of asymmetry is a much more abstract notion to describe subjectively without some awareness of how our identity is situated and expressed through the medium of the internet.

Given these prepositions, the reaction to a centralised control of information by some third party generates suspicion, but the new mode of social scrutiny is simply integrated into our socialisation; partly because we have adapted to virtual interlocution, and partly because the (potential) ubiquity of the device is incredibly democratic. That is, Google Glass is much more likely to transfigure social norms, by virtue of its integration, and yet because its intrusion is much more invisible. I also believe that we, as a society, will adapt to this intrusion more quickly.

It is very easy to think that Google Glass marks the inception of a convergence of the human lived experience and the imprecation of technology upon our lives, but in reality it is merely the continuation of a process that has been happening since the proliferation of mobile technologies. Considering it took less than a year or so to adapt to smart phones and how they their use meant the intrusion of the internet into our intimate spaces, I doubt that we will have much difficulty adapting to this new intrusion.

Google Glass is much more likely to transfigure social norms, by virtue of its integration, and yet because its intrusion is much more invisible.

I predict that in about five years, some of our fundamental notions of privacy will be continually contested, if not substantially rewritten. That in perhaps ten to fifteen years our notions of what constitutes a public space and a private space will seem almost unrecognisable to today. Part of this contest will emerge over issues of copyright, particularly in the context of social participation at events and public gatherings where ownership is recognised, such as galleries and theatres.