What happens when a naive intern is granted unfettered access to people's most private thoughts and actions? Young Stephen Thorpe lands a coveted internship at Ubatoo, an Internet empire that provides its users with popular online services, from a search engine and shopping to e-mail and social networking. When Stephen's boss asks him to work on a project with the American Coalition for Civil Liberties, Stephen innocently obliges, believing he is mining Ubatoo's vast databases to protect the ever-growing number of people unfairly targeted in the name of national security. But nothing is as it seems. Suspicious individuals--do-gooders, voyeurs, government agents, and radicals--surface, doing all they can to access the mass of desires and vulnerabilities gleaned from scouring Ubatoo's wealth of intimate information. Entry into Ubatoo's vaults of personal data need not require technical wizardry--simply knowing how to manipulate a well-intentioned intern may be enough.
Set in today's cutting-edge data mining industry, The Silicon Jungle is a cautionary tale of data mining's promise and peril, and how others can use our online activities for political and personal gain just as easily as for marketing and humanitarian purposes. A timely thriller, The Silicon Jungle raises serious ethical questions about today's technological innovations and how our most confidential activities and minute details can be routinely pieced together into rich profiles that reveal our habits, goals, and secret desires--all ready to be exploited in ways beyond our wildest imaginations.
Shumeet Baluja is a senior staff research scientist at Google. He was formerly the chief technology officer of Jamdat Mobile and chief scientist at Lycos. He holds a PhD in computer science and has served as an adjunct faculty member in both the computer science department and the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
"Baluja's clever, cynical debut explores the frightening possibilities of data mining. . . . A nod to Upton Sinclair's muckraking The Jungle, which scared its readers into regulating the meat-packing industry, this lively if depressing novel suggests that computer snooping is too seductive to control, despite the consequences."--Publishers Weekly
"[F]righteningly convincing. . . . The read is quick, the questions will linger, and the ideas are so intriguing. . . . Baluja simplifies the abstract world of tech-speak for the rest of us while aiming to do for the Internet what Upton Sinclair's The Jungle did for the meat industry: make readers reconsider its safety. For fans of intelligent thrillers."--Stephen Morrow, Library Journal
"In the era of the ubiquitous web company, The Silicon Jungle provides ample food for thought."--Zena Iovino, New Scientist
"[T]his cautionary tale is fascinating for its exploration of technology as a conduit for crime."--Michele Leber, Booklist Online
"The book's central message is fascinating. A company like Google, Baluja points out, has far more information on U.S. citizens than does the FBI and far fewer restrictions on how to use it. It's a chilling message in a fun package."--Kathleen Offenholley, Mathematics Teacher
"A cerebral, cautionary tale. Credible and scary."--Vint Cerf, Google Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist and one of the "Fathers of the Internet"
Table of Contents
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