Re: Transparent Society

From: phil osborn (
Date: Sat May 13 2000 - 00:14:08 MDT

>From: "John Calvin" <>
>Subject: Transparent Society
>Date: 7 May 2000 02:04:00 -0000

Re: your scenario - the following scenario.

The problem is not the transparent society; it's the state. In the only
kind of meta-stable society - one that can survive long-term past the
singularity - the monopoloy state and its police have been replaced by more
effective and less bothersome means.

In general, in such a society, while someone could indeed act in response to
a (mis)perceived threat, your recourse would be to demand compensation for
the costs you incurred due to their error, innocent or otherwise. Probably
your insurance agency would compensate you up front and then examine how to
dun the offenders in the best way for them.

Also, while preventative measures might indeed be taken, depending upon how
seriously someone took the perceived threat, any report of such suspicious
activity might first bring a call or visit from your insurance inspector, as
they would be hit for the costs if you did in fact commit a terrorist act.
If it was just an AI mistake, then no problem. If you habitually did things
that triggered investigations, then eventually your insurance agency might
notify you of a rate increase to cover their additional costs, or they might
just average it in.

In addition to the insurance call or investigation, there might well be
free-lancers checking up on you in the hopes of catching a would-be
terrorist and collecting on rewards posted by the various insurance agencies
for information regarding premium fraud artists, such as guys with basement
nukes or secret biocapable nanoassemblers, who could not hope to pay a high
enough premium to cover the risks they secretly imposed on their neighbors.
These people would be shut down in short order.

I suspect that the actual number of such violations would be fairly minimal.
  With real transparency and accountability, it would be as unnecessary as
it is unjust to punish someone on the theory of deterence, or on the basis
that for every crime successfully caught and prosecuted, fifty others get
away. Punishment, as such, itself only works to the extent that it deters
future crime, and it doesn't do that very efficiently. How much better to
charge actual costs to those responsible.

Instead of taxes for hit-or-miss Skinnerian justice, the price of knowledge
would be factored into the actuarial costs of your insurance premiums.
There would be an always shifting actuarial breaking even point in terms of
absolute knowledge versus total risk, a marginal returns function that
through good analytical tools and competition among providers would tend to
optimize the cost of ensuring reasonable safety.

>A possible scenario in a transparent society.
>I currently live on an acre lot, large lawn and about a third of the lot is
>the scenario:
>One day I happen to have an argument with my boss (I happen to work in a
>federal building) We occasionally have differences of opinion the
>difference is now we live in a "Transparent Society" with ubiquitous
>surveilance and AI watching it all happen.
>On my way home I stop and get fertilizer for my lawn cause its spring and
>its time to get out in the yard. I also stop and get a couple gallons of
>gas for my chainsaw because I need to cut up the tree limbs that have
>fallen due to the winter storms. While I'm at it I get a large rain barrell
>because I want to save on my water bill and use rainwater (I live near
>Seattle) to water my gardens.
>All in and of themselves innocent things.
>However the AI, not yet being able to read my mind alerts the Police who
>are sent to investigate why I have purchased the makings of a bomb so
>recently after having had an argument with my boss. The police are also
>unable to read my mind, but checking past records they would be able to
>determine that I have been in the military, have once purchased a copy of
>the Anarchist cookbook, and occasionally veiwed websites on Anarchy. They
>are unable to determine (No mind reading tech yet) that my actual
>miotivations for these things were Duty, curiosity, and academic research
>(in that order). Being an innocent civilian I ought never be subject to
>this kind of questioning in the first place, yet (In the interest of public
>safety)I find myself in just such a position. What do the police officers
>do now, take my word that I intend no harm and hope that I am not deceiving
>them. Confiscate the "Bomb" making material depriving me of its use for
>harmless purposes, or maybe they ought to !
>arrest me as a potential threat to public safety.
>I don't have an answer to these questions, they however give me reason to
>be extremely wary of "Transparent Society"
>John Calvin<-- enjoying a rare sunny day in the northwest by staying inside
>and posting to this list.
>Email your boss can't read - sign up for free email
>at, your gateway to the underground

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