Already robust technologies for data mining and further improvements over the next decade will head technologies that are leading to an era of ubiquitous computing, when networked devices used by government, business and individuals will eliminate privacy, a Gartner Inc. executive says.

Richard Hunter, vice president and director of research for applications development at Gartner, says that Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which had 15 terabyte data mining capability two years ago, expects to data mining capabilities in the high hundreds of terabytes within 10 years.

Hunter, the author of a new book entitled “World Without Secrets: Business, Crime and Privacy in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing,” spoke after a keynote session at Gartner’s Sympositum/ITxpo 2002 in San Diego, where he told an audience that robust technologies for data mining would combine with other technologies in ubiquitous law enforcement tools.

The other technologies that will be needed for this development include facial geometry scanning, which is already being tested by some law enforcement agencies; high bandwidth wireless, which will emerge in the next year or two; miniaturized alert technologies, which are expected to appear between 2005 and 2008; and semantic analysis technologies, expected to be perfected at the end of this decade.

"It's not just about Orwell," Hunter says. "In Orwell's '1984,' the government owned all the technology. In our world, everybody's got the technology, and the threats to privacy are far more widespread."

Hunter says the rise of ubiquitous computing is also behind a phenomena he calls “networked armies,” which are stirring e-mail attacks on businesses, the anti-globalization attack on the World Trade Organization and the anti-Western attacks of the Al Quaeda terrorist organization.

"Individuals and businesses," Hunter notes, "will join network armies and fight them. Business and government leaders everywhere should avoid becoming the nemesis of an angry network army. You can't negotiate yourself out of a war with one. There's no one to negotiate with."

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