RE: Surveilance was: Transhuman fascists?

From: White, Ryan (
Date: Thu Mar 30 2000 - 14:29:44 MST

The way I see it, by the time humanity reaches the level of technological
sophistication required to produce practical applications of distributed
nanotechnology (which i believe was a major impetus for Zero's conclusion of
the necessity of universal transparency - so we can all sleep at night
despite the knowledge that any citizen Joe can build a black-hole generator,
or whatever, with nanobots), the issue of 'SCARCITY of computing power', (a
basis for one opposing argument: the 'strong' will get 'stronger' via
exploitation of a larger part of the video-data-processing rescource pool)
probably won't exist. Perhaps this results from my particular skewed vision
of the implementation of nanotechnology, but I suspect it will require
considerable computational rescources to apply and distribute it to that
level of sophistication in the first place. Additionally, I envision an
upper bound to the efficacy of hoarding and expending such rescources to
'watch all our neighbors', especially when you consider an emergent paranoid
necessity to 'watch all our neighbors watch us watch them', etc., ad


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dan Fabulich []
> Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 1:23 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Surveilance was: Transhuman fascists?
> 'What is your name?' 'Zero Powers.' 'Do you deny having written the
> following?':
> > >Look, my whole argument is that you can't guarantee yourself access to
> the
> > >server, even if you can assure yourself access to the cameras.
> Remember,
> > >these servers are government owned and government run. The government
> can
> > >take away the servers, and THEN where would you be?
> >
> > Now you are assuming that the servers would be government owned and run.
> I
> > never suggested this. I don't even know that the sytem would need to
> depend
> > on any central "servers." Even if some sort of central server were
> > required, it would seem to make much more sense to me if the servers
> were
> > distributed, robust and redundant without any one hierarchical
> controlling
> > body. Think Usenet.
> I am. Part of the trouble here is that Usenet distributes information,
> without much processing after people type it in. This is comparatively
> easy and cheap. In addition, Usenet is a system where the more people who
> are using it, the more useful it becomes.
> The servers you're describing are quite the reverse. Relevance servers
> run best when it's only serving up the information relevant to me,
> (because it's searching the same data only once, for only one list of
> "relevant" things) works about half as well when it's serving up
> information relevant to both of us, etc. With Usenet, I get some benefit
> from sharing it with you. With the Relevance servers, I get much more
> benefit from keeping it away from you.
> > And even if it was necessary to have some sort of central oversight
> > committee (which I doubt) there is no reason why it would have to
> consist
> > solely of government employees.
> You're right. Some private citizens could own a few Relevance servers as
> well. But since they'd be a scarce resource and more useful the fewer get
> to use it, you can bet that they'd be expensive. So, once again, only the
> powerful (this time the rich) get access to the Relevance servers. But
> that still means that the gov't could shut them down if they wanted to;
> or, barring that, simply that the poor get monitored with no access to
> Relevance whereas the rich and gov't officials get monitored with lots of
> access to Relevance.
> > And, further, assuming that (1) it is necessary to have a centralized
> > server
> I don't need it to be singular; I just need there to be a small number of
> centers, which is likely, because, unlike the Internet, this resource is
> less useful as it is shared.
> > system and (2) it is necessary to have a single hierarchical controlling
> > body
> That needn't be the case. So long as there are only a few centers, the
> gov't could seize control of them if it wanted to.
> > again as long as the body and its personnel and its decisions and its
> > actions were sufficiently transparent, it would not matter.
> You keep insisting on that. But even if you doubt my claim that a
> despotism could arise, you must admit that if it DID arise, transparency
> wouldn't matter.
> > Have you ever *heard* of the US? Have you ever been there? I don't
> know
> > what you have read about democracy, but you obviously have never seen
> ours
> > in action.
> Yes, I have.
> > >The most vivid example we have of a
> > >despot rising to power where there was once a democracy was Hitler. If
> > >you wanted to be a despot in America, you'd do it the way he did it.
> >
> > Well much as that might make for an interesting thought experiment, I'm
> not
> > going to pursue it further. I don't see any despot rising to power in
> the
> > US or in *any* similarly constitutional democracy. Keep singing that
> same
> > song if you want, fact of the matter is it ain't gonna happen.
> Look at it this way. If you're right about our country, then it's not a
> fact about transparency that makes you right. It's a fact about the way
> the citizens of the United States are. In a different place, or at some
> other time, you'd be wrong about what the people were like, and under
> those circumstances, a despotism *could* happen. So I could even concede
> to you that, right now, a despotism in America is unthinkable, even with
> ubiquitous surveilance.
> However, American culture need not always be like that. It could one day
> be more like China, or Soviet Russia, or France, or India, or Germany or
> Tibet, or who knows what. So insisting that despotism will NEVER happen
> in this country seems much too strong a principle for anyone to support.
> (I actually DO think that America is prone to despotism today, but I think
> that's too strong a cultural claim to support here; besides, I don't need
> that argument to justify my point, so it's not relevant.)
> Finally, I've argued time and time again that the powerful get more use
> out of this system than the weak. I'll now weaken my claim to the
> following: in the sort of state where despotism is possible, a system
> which empowers the powerful and weakens the weak makes despotism easier
> and more likely.
> But if you bought my line of argument above, despotism is *possible*
> everywhere, though it may be fifty or even 100 years down the road. So
> the fact that this system would make despotism easier when (not if) the
> time is ripe for it implies to me that this system should, to whatever
> extent possible, be avoided.
> > >Not if the despot manages to get a mandate from the people first.
> Hitler,
> > >you'll recall, had the popular vote. How would a transparent society
> have
> > >prevented Hitler from rising to power?
> >
> > A constitutional democracy like that in the US (transparent or not)
> would
> > have prevented Hitler from rising to power. Because it is simply
> > unconstitutional to become a despot in the US. The only way to do it is
> to
> > (1) *drastically* amend, or throw out the constitution or (2) militarily
> > take over. One *last* time, that is *NOT* going to happen.
> Even if I agreed with you here: do you think the Constitution will last
> forever? What happens when the US federal gov't as such is replaced?
> What will become of this country?
> Take the long view on this one.

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