Re: Surveilance was: Transhuman fascists?

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Wed Mar 29 2000 - 13:58:13 MST

>From: Dan Fabulich <>
> > Believe it or not I'm not stupid enough to believe that power
> > transparency is now in place to any significant extent. I was merely
> > replying to Mike Lorrey who suggested that a system which allowed the
> > guy to know more about the leaders than the leaders knew about the
> > guy would lead to the leaders being assasinated forthwith. I was just
> > pointing out that that is not necessarily the case.
>Nonetheless, the secrecy of our top levels of organization is certainly as
>it should be, as it's hard to imagine these organizaitons doing their jobs
>effectively without this sort of secrecy. This may not have been the
>point to which you were replying, but it's right anyway. ;)

Well yes. As long as we have baggage we must carry such as national
sovereignty. But one day, we will lay that baggage down.

>If the top levels of government are under extreme scrutiny, yet to be
>scrutinize someone about X, you have to reveal X to the scrutinized, how
>is it NOT the case that both the top levels of government and the little
>guy are under extreme scrutiny? Whoever is fully scrutinizing Clinton is
>fully scrutinized by Clinton.

Well since the technology is not yet operational, its a bit difficult for me
to imagine *exactly* how it will work. But generally, this is what I have
in mind. If you want to be a powerful mucky-muck who can effect the lives
of a great many people it is open season on you. Meaning that (much like
Pres. Clinton has gone through) we will release the hounds of the press on
you to dig up anything and everything that they can about you and, unlike
Joe Q. Public, you will little if any right of privacy or recourse against
the press unless you can show that they intentionally lied about you. This
is pretty much the state of the law now.

Now, all this information will be published about you (much as it is today)
and will become part of the public record which anyone will be able to
access without having to give up any tidbits about themselves. This will
contain such boring trivia as your professional curriculum vitae, job
performance ratings, the identity of your friends, acquaintences and lovers,
your medical records, credit history, etc. Basically any data that will
give the voting public an idea of what kind of person they are getting when
they vote for you. But even the mightiest and most powerful might have
*some* data that keeps itself out of the public record. To access *that*
data you would have to give up the same about yourself.

This way the microscope on the President is bigger than the one on me
biggest I start out with a great deal of "free" information, an advantage he
does not have. Moreoever, there will be many, many more people interested
in poking around the president's records than would be interested in seeing
mine. So yes if I was curious, say, to know if Clinton's penis really had
that anomoly that was bandied about in the press, I might have to give him a
picture of mine. But in that case he would be flooded with so many penis
pictures from all over the world, I would have little need to fear that he
would fixate on mine.

>It seems that even if your system works
>flawlessly, the result is simple total surveilance a la Brin, where the
>cameras are everywhere and anyone who wants to can look at any camera at
>any time to find out what you're up to right now.

Yep, that's pretty much the idea.

>How could you guarantee that whatever I learn about you, you learn about
>me? If the information is already organized into facts (telephone
>numbers, addresses, etc.) it's easy to see, but when the question is of
>the form "are they having sex right now?" it's hard to imagine how a
>simple system could reveal that to you and reveal that to the targetted
>party in any useful way, or even answer the question without at least
>human level intelligence.
>The problem gets compounded when I start asking
>"with whom are they having sex right now? How? Are they doing so in the
>approved way?" In general, the whole point of surveilance is to detect
>wrongdoing. I want to ask "are they commiting a wrongdoing?" How would a
>simple system know that? How could a simple system reveal that to others?

I never said it would be a "simple system." It will likely take the help of
strong AI and nanotech.

>Finally, what's stopping the government from using the cameras all the
>time, with your full knowledge? Sure, you'd get lots of information about
>the despot at the head of government, but, it doesn't *matter* how much
>information you get about the despot; indeed, more information only makes
>the despot's threats more plausible. You both know he's a despot making
>unreasonable demands and that he could squash you like a bug if he felt
>like it. How has transparency helped you?

The government *would* be using the cameras all the time. So will any other
nosy busy body who chooses to do so. So what? You will know when you are
being watched. If you are a law-abiding citizen why on Earth would you
care? If you are a criminal, knowing that you are being watched by the
government (and that nosy Mrs. Kravitz down the street) would encourage you
to explore other possibile occupations.

In a truly transparent society there would be no "despots" unless we the
people collectively decided to turn our fates over to a despot. I don't
know about you, but I ain't voting for any despots anytime soon.


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

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