Re: An Argument Against Privacy was: Openness.

Paul Hughes (
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 15:40:10 -0800

Hal Finney wrote:

> Paul Hughes, <>, writes:
> > However, David Brine make avery good point. It is only a matter of time
> [Slight typo, you meant David Brin]
> > before 'gnat' bots become widely available - equipped with the latest
> > micro-sized video cameras and solid-state recording. With a plethora of
> > such flying solid-state devices, what is to keep anyone from spying on anyone
> > else? Not much, considering that such gnatbots could conceivably infiltrate
> > even the most heavily guarded top-secret facilities.
> In fact, we have often discussed technologies which would make the
> gnat's job more difficult or even impossible. Lightweight head mounted
> displays will paint an image directly onto the retina. This would make
> it pretty tough for the gnat to see what you were viewing online. At a
> later stage, implants could do the same thing to the optic nerve, and
> later to other parts of the brain. Eventually you have technologically
> mediated mental telepathy, full-sense VR and direct brain access to the
> information nets. At that point it all comes down to the security of
> the software and encryption which is used.

I agree that when we enter a world where full VR mediated mental telepathy exists with very strong encryption, a couple of the points I made become moot. However, I still think gnatbots will make it nearly impossible in the foreseeable future for people to hide what they do in *meatspace* - from their sex lives to hiding the latest top-secret test vehicle at 'Area 51'.

For the fun of it, lets imagine that all of the scenarios in 'X-Files' are occurring at some level or another within the echelons of government. Granted they may be able to hide all of their communications while plotting against the rest of us; however, once they start to implement their plans in meatspace, I find it hard to imagine how they could possible hide their actions any further. Once they attempt to implement those plans in meatspace it becomes public knowledge.

I think this also applies to many of the scenarios of run-away nanotech development. Rather than one party achieving the assembler breakthrough and leveraging that advantage to prohibit others from reaching it, it's quite possible that several other research groups will have gnatbots spying on each other - such that the knowledge of each groups advancements assist the others.

Paul Hughes