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Imagine a society where the consumer has as much access to information as the corporation.

Where a shopper could easily find out which washing powder really did wash better (and how many streams got polluted by each company in order to manafacture it).
2008 update - phones (eg Android) can now read barcodes --DR

Ah - there's a subtle point.  If all information is filtered through trust structures, 'truth' becomes diluted.  Now, admittedly, truth today is mostly an illusion - but given that there can be facts as to which powder washes better, how do you differentiate these from trusted opinions?  Since most people can't and won't take the time to work out the various factors, the interpretations put upon it by various people will become the important thing.  Then you get runaway UrbanLegends? and such - hysterical reactions by the mass populous that cause damage.  --Vitenka (Just pointing out that not all consequences are good ones - and we already have some of the trends starting now)

How do you differentiate facts from trusted opinions now? Unless you've done the experiment yourself, knowledge you have is not a fact - merely someone's trusted opinion that something is a fact. If, OTOH, you've obtained the fact yourself and don't want to share the results with anyone, you have no need to incorporate the fact into the trust system. This probably needs a separate page - NatureOfKnowledge or some such; with links to ScientificMethod and wherever else we've discussed similar points previously. - MoonShadow

What is the Capital of China?  I belive it is Beijing (modulo spelling and transliteration stuff).  But do I know that for a fact?  Or am I having to trust other people when they make that claim?  I would say, not having gone there myself, that it is an opinion supported by a great deal of circumstancial evidence.  Sufficient indeed that I would bet my life upon it being true.
Do a google search for "aids needle telephone".  You'll find snopes.com in the top 10.  Why?  Not because a majority of people have taken the time to work the various factors and do the research to show that particular story to be an urban legend.  But because snopes is trusted (linked to) by many sites that are themselves highly popular (highly linked to).  Perhaps I'm an optimist, but I believe that given a medium where discussion can build upon itself (eg FAQs for balanced usenet newsgroups) truth tends to float to the top (or at least obvious untruths tend to get shot down, which has a comparable effect). --DR
Google can be, and is, gamed.  As a service becomes more important, the amount of effort attackers spend increases.  The social consequence of automating trust is NigritudeUltramarine.  --Vitenka  (Slightly DevilsAdvocate, slightly scared.  At least currently there are multiple avenues for deciding trust and objective truth can be determined, or determined to not exist.  If that changes, if the kinds of people who wish to deliberately influence the meanings of terms can put their rumours at the level of 'truth' then... well, this is a problem.)

Something similar to this could be done now.  Suppose someone published a firefox plugin that added information to your online shopping view of http://www.tesco.com/  When you came to buy a pot of honey and looked at two alternative brands to compare them, the plugin would add a gold star by one and a death's head by the other (or possibly more more detailed info, depending on how you configured it).  When setting up the plugin you could decide which review sources to subscribe to and how much weight to give each.  So Gourmets would say which tasted better to their members, Moneysavers would say which was better value for money in their opinion, Weightwatchers would say which contained more calories and Eco-nice-people would say which producing company paid low wages to their bee keepers and used DDT on their clover.  Note, this would only be 2nd order /MediatedTrust.  --DR

Imagine if a frisbee sitting on the grass in a park could detect when there were sufficient people walking around within range who would be interested in a game of Ultimate Frisbee and start a game.
Ok, now, I may be a TechnoPhobe? here, but I'd much prefer a frisbee to shut up and play what I tell it to play.  The frisbee is not the conveyer of intelligence, nor should it be.  (Makes warding sign against the quote-scout)  Right now a bunch of people can see a frisbee and say "Hey, let's play!" - why does this change?  --Vitenka
I think the point is, if you're in the park you could notify the frisbee that you'd like a game, and let it tell you when enough other people are around who've also done that.  Although it would need quite some level of techno advancement for people to actually get into the habit of notifying frisbees when they arrive in a park.  --AlexChurchill, similarly attempting to deflect the UnnaturallyKeenQuoteScout
I was actually thinking of something more general here.  People and objects can register interests in group activities, whether that's quartet singing, morris dancing or frisbee playing.  When a critical mass of people and objects required for an activity are all in the same place, then they all receive notification of that fact.  Bear in mind that if most people have vr overlay goggles you could do things like giant chess games without any physical equipment - just consensual reality.  Hell, even the frisbee game could be played without an actual frisbee, as long as everyone 'sees' a frisbee being in the same place and reacting to a virtual wind in the same way. --DR
difficult to catch, though

Imagine walking up a street in a strange town, and being able to read on your PDA/camera/telephone the digital graffiti left by previous wanderers (including trusted food and drink reviews).
2008 update - phones (eg iPhone) now come with built in GPS. --DR

Imagine being able to play RealLife Quake?, with the monsters projected onto your glasses as an overlay, and your PDA acting as your gun.
nice way to get run over

I'm sure you're aware of this - but both of these exist.  --Vitenka
For example [Human Pacman] and [here]
[WirelessGames] (Which just so needs to be crossed with [Improv])

Imagine walking down the street needing help carrying your shopping, and being able to rely on people you have never met before like they were your best friends, because an /AmiCog you have a strong reputation within has credit with an /AmiCog the stranger participates in. but pity the poor person who gets everyone asking them for help with their shopping, without realising why

I'll argue that one on its page.  Personally, I prefer just being able to trust everyone without having, effectively, a negative bias towards most people who don't pay me.  --Vitenka
Ok, think of it this way.  Digital Graffiti is where instead of writing on real brick walls, you attach electronic info to a virtual representation of the brick wall, like the popup box saying "Virtual Reality Checkpoint" attached to the google map of Parker's Piece, Cambridge.  There is no reason why this digital annotation cannot also be applied to people.  So on meeting Joe Bloggs for the first time, if he is someone your amicog has met and formed opinions upon, you might see a green groan icon warning of bad puns, a cartoon figure summarising their personality, etc.  Whatever your amicog felt important - different cogs would collect or display different opinions (how someone from Moneysavers would see Joe might be very different from how a ToothyCogizan? might see them) In fact that could be literally true; with real time digital image manipulation software you might even see Joe as that cartoon figure, his body posture and facial expressions transferred to it like Andy Sirkis in King Kong. --DR
AugmentedReality? is an insteresting prospect.  I think, in reality, too many people would say "Oh, this is hard to sort out" and would just default to using a single large identity broker - with horrendous privacy implications - but yes, I can see how it might be helpful to replace your gut feeling based on happenstance appearance to one based upon previous encounters of those you trust.  I still feel that you'll end up spreading a lot of needless distrust (people, quite reasonably keep bad reps longer than good ones), people gaming the system (what a wonderful tool for a ConArtist? to be able to see exactly how much they are trusted!) and generally making people feel more isolated.  --Vitenka  (A zero rep is likely to be interpreted as a bad rep...)
Or perhaps like anonymous posts on /. ? --DR
The interpretation of "unknown/anonymous" varies depending upon the seriousnes of the application.  If the worst they can do is spout nonesense, then trust is fairly easy to come by.  In RealLife, they could kill you.  So you're going to treat seeing them as a faceless figure a little bit more harshly...  --Vitenka

Instant collaboration has wider implications than frisbee games.  The critical accumulation of information on availability, interests and trust has implications for one off business ventures.  Think BurningMan? or the creation of raves and festivals.  Much has been written on self assembling structures (see the science fiction example where a house is built by each brick having a virtual tag showing where and when it needs to be placed).  If people have home fabricators (or just the items laying around their house) needed to put together a jumble sale stall, or a performance art piece, an amicog can bring them together at the right time, with people having the right skills and interests to assemble it. --DR
Query - are you seeing an AmiCog? as being something you are only a member of one of?  Or am I misparsing your  ShortHand??  --Vitenka
I would see people as being able to access information from and supply information to an unlimited number of AmiCogs?.  I would see people being able to interact (ie supply information to an AmiCog? that depends on the information from the AmiCog?, in a human personalised manner) with a more limited number because that sort of interaction takes time and attention which are limiting factors.  If you want an analogy, think Usenet.  You can use google groups to scan an unlimited number of groups for stuff containing a particular phrase.  You can post spam to an unlimited number of groups (alas).  But it takes time to become a well known participant on a group, and so few people have the time to become well known on more than two or three groups. --DR 

See also: [Team Buying] [Hive Mind]

Potential Problems

Do you remember the days of dial up internet, when you were charged by the minute?  Or when phone providers did not provide deals for unlimited time?  We are moving towards an "always on" world, but have you considered the implications of this for camera phones?  Let's follow the stages
* Having your personal electronic swarm be able to translate faces to names makes sense.  It is useful functionality.  It might even be automatable, if your devices are context aware enough.  Does your calender say you are currently meeting with Joe Bloggs?  Does Joe send you an electronic business card bearing his name?  Do you greet  him as "Joe" in such a way that voice recognition could pick it up?  That would be enough.
* It is beneficial for individual users to share such information with others.  Even to share times and places the person was sighted at.
* Even if governments get banned from creating BigBrother databases, if the information is out there, it is in the interests of other bodies (eg companies) to gather as much personal data as they can and make it processable for their own uses.
* If companies can do it, then a distributed open peer version of the big database could also be constructed.  Voila - GoldfishBowl

False Recommendations
Imagine a school where the most popular girl tells those in her group that any girl who refuses to give negative feedback to Amy will be added to the list of 'unpopular' people.

I was reading [Ray Ozzie's blog on wiring the web].  It seems to me that given a stable functioning AmiCog? in a fluid evolving software environment, people would want to take it a step further.  No just using it for information, but for things like recommended software configurations, translation sites, plugins, extensions and skins.  You all know how often people ignore security (hands up everyone who has ever read a web browser "site security certificate out of date or does not match" and gone ahead anyway).  Sure, most people will trust someone who is worthy of their trust.  But let's assume that just 5% do something silly and trust the wrong person.  What might happen?
* The machines of the 5% get taken over
* Those machines are then used to boost the reliability rating of the virus plugin
* The effect snowballs

See also: /TheFuture /DistributedComputing /LivingApplications /KnowledgeStructures /MediatedTrust /SocialConsequences /AmiCog /ToothyCog

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