Transparency (Was Re: FreeNet downside)

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Thu Mar 23 2000 - 17:59:04 MST

>From: "Michael S. Lorrey" <>
>Zero Powers wrote:
> >
> > As I've said before, privacy is a thing of the present, not of the
> > I'm sure it will take quite some time for everyone to get on board, but
> > only way to real freedom is mutually assured surveillance. Anonymity is
> > worthless to most law abiding citizens. As fewer legal things become
> > "taboo" anonymity will be completely worthless, except to criminals.
> > not Orwellian at all. It's me watching you watching me watching Big
> > watching us all.
>Big Borther, and all of your neighbors, are watching you....Now you
>really feel free now, right? "Slavery is freedom." Yup thats 'real
>freedom' alright.

Well no. No one is watching me now, at least not very closely (at least not
that I'm aware of). And of course, to the extent that I am being watched
right now, it does not give me any sense of freedom. But the reason for
that is that the "watching" is not *mutual*. Mutuality is the key to
freedom in a transparent society.

If you can watch me and I can (1) know the extent to which you are watching
me and (2) watch you to the exact same extent. Yes, my friend, that is
freedom. Especially for law-abiding folks like myself. See, when you live
your life with integrity, you have nothing to fear from people watching how
you live your life. Especially when you know exactly *who* is watching
exactly *which* parts of your life and you can turn the microscope around
and watch them right back. An additional benefit of transparency is that it
encourages people with less integrity (no I'm not pointing any fingers) to
act in more trustworthy ways.

> Prisoners obey the law because they are in prison, not because it is
>virtuous to do so. Treating everyone like a prisoner means the death of
>freedom, not 'real freedom'. Once nobody cares what is virtuous behavior
>in themselves or others, what makes you think that they will care who is
>watching them as they do anything they want to? At that point, the only
>thing keeping the average person in a law abiding state is the threat of
>instant police action.

Prisoners obey the law for the same reason that everyone else does: they
don't want to face the consequences of disobeying the law. For people with
integrity those consequences consist primarily of one's own nagging
conscience. For others the primary consequences include humiliation and
loss of money, liberty or life. This will not change in a transparent
society. The only change will be the swift and sure imposition of the
consequences (which after all is a *good* thing, particularly for those of
us who are law-abiding by nature).

But you miss the point, transparency is not about treating people as
prisoners. It's about treating people as family (which when you think about
it is what they are). I know almost everything about my wife. Her
finances, her hopes, her fears, her weaknesses, her strengths. I know
exactly how she'll react if I kiss the backs of her knees. I know where she
is almost all the time. Does that make her my prisoner? Especially when
(1) she knows that I know these things about her and (2) she knows all these
same things about me?

You may not like it. But no matter. Transparency is the *only* solution
for a society of superhumans. When any given person has the potential to
set in motion things that could lead to the sterilization of the entire
planet, you had better be able to trust (and keep a damn close eye on) your
neighbors. After all, if you could trust me, I mean *really* trust me,
would you really mind so much if I knew everything about you? That
knowledge would make me a much better companion for you and would make me
more fun for you to be around.

Who knows...if I knew everything about you, and you knew everything about
me, and we could both trust the other implicitly, we'd probably become the
best of friends. As it stands I think you are a reactionary gun "nut" and
you probably think I am a sanctimonious and narrow-minded fascist. Surely
we can do better than that.


"I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
--Thomas Jefferson

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